The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will start accepting H-1B visa applications for the fiscal year 2018 April 3 onwards. However, it has said that all cap-subject H-1B petitions filed before April 3 for the FY2018 cap will not be entertained. It has also banned all premium processing of H1-B visas for an indefinite period, starting from April 3.
H1-B visas are highly popular with Indian as well as US-based IT companies, which often use them to take Indian IT professionals to the US to fill jobs or on a temporary basis. As of now, a total of 85,000 professionals can avail this visa, with 20,000 of them being reserved for those who have higher or advanced degrees.
With premium processing suspended for an indefinite period, the USCIS has said in a statement: "H-1B petitioners must follow all statutory and regulatory requirements as they prepare petitions to avoid delays in processing and possible requests for evidence. The filing fee for Form I-129 has increased to $460, and petitioners no longer have 14 days to correct a dishonoured payment. If any fee payments are not honoured by the bank or financial institution, USCIS will reject the entire H-1B petition without the option for the petitioner to correct it."
The US agency has also said: "While premium processing is suspended, we will reject any Form I-907 filed with an H-1B petition. If the petitioner submits one combined check for both the Form I-907 and Form I-129 H-1B fees, we will have to reject both forms."
Form I-907 pertains to the premium processing of visas. Since it is suspended, the form cannot be filed, and if it is, it will be rejected. If payment for it is filed along with payment for Form I-129, which pertains to visas for non-immigrant workers, both applications will end up rejected.
The USCIS, however, will continue to issue premium process visas whose applications were made before April 3. It said in its statement: "We will continue to premium process Form I-129 H-1B petitions if the petitioner properly filed an associated Form I-907 before April 3, 2017."