The United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is trying to fasten the process of granting H-1B visas to foreign workers in the US, amid a health crisis due to the COVID-19.

The acceleration of visa application processing was announced on March 16 when DHS’s immigration services agency announced it would limit the use of “premium processing” to “help us to reduce overall H-1B processing times.”

The temporary suspension of premium processing has been applied in a bid to reduce overall H-1B processing times. USCIS  has suspended the premium process every year, since 2017, VisaGuide.World reports.

The latest Department of Homeland Security decision has been functionalized from March 20, for all I-129 petition for nonimmigrant workers as well as for I-140 petitions for immigration, for an indefinite period.

But, so far the applicants have already made some petitions that led a Form 1-129, or other forms such as Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker or Form 1-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Workers for premium processing. By now, they have not received any information from the agency. In these cases, within 15 days they will be receiving a refund.

USCIS also revealed that the public would be informed about the date for resumption of premium processing service.

Through premium processing, companies are enabled to pay a premium in order to get nearly 100,000 H-1B work visas each year.

A total of 85,000 H-1B visas are awarded to US companies via application and lottery process.  The H1-B visas are awarded by the Department of Homeland Security and Citizenship and Immigration Services agency every April.

An extra “cap-exempt” 15,000 of H1-B visas are awarded to non-profit employers at universities, as well as hospitals and research laboratories, within one fiscal year.

Chad Wolf, the head of DHS worked as a lobbyist for the outsourcing industry that is based in India. The Indian and the US mixed group use the H-1B visa program to hire citizens of India that are graduated for jobs in the US, and the economic gains are split among both countries’ companies, investors and executives.

The business groups are looking forward to expanding the H-1B visa program. Amid the coronavirus, pandemic activists are using the disease as an excuse for Congress to increase the number of foreigners who are graduated for the healthcare sector.

In the fiscal year 2021, premium processing will resume in two phases, according to USCIS.

The agency has taken similar measures before, to facilitate the requests for the premium process.

In the first phase of premium, processing will be included those eligible for advanced degree exemption, which are also requested to switch from the status of F1 nonimmigrant, while in the second phase will be included all the other cap-subject H1-B visa petitions, within the 2021 fiscal year.

 H-1B visa provides overseas workers to work for US companies. The applicants are required to have a higher education degree and to be specialized in fields like IT, professors, doctors, architects, etc.

Last week, some of the high skilled immigrants from India, urged President Trump, to fasten the processing of Green Card or legal permanent residency applications, as well as to remove bureaucratic difficulties, from the H-1B visa.

According to a study from official figures, one in every fifth petition for H-1B visas were denied in 2019, by the American government, while the Indians had a higher denial rate.

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