The US agency’s announcement also comes as some relief for Indian IT companies and professionals as it signals that there would be no change in the H-1B visa regime as was being anticipated in view of flurry of bills introduced to tighten it. The White House says that H1-B visas would be part of a comprehensive immigration reform agenda. In the last few years, the department has received enough petitions to fill in the Congressional mandated 85,000 H-1B visas.
This 85,000 Congressional mandated limit on H-1B visas include 65,000 in the general category and another 20,000 for those foreign students who have masters or higher degree from a US academic institution.
USCIS said H-1B programme allows companies in the US to temporarily employ foreign workers in occupations that require the application of a body of highly specialised knowledge and a bachelor’s degree or higher in the specific speciality, or its equivalent. H-1B speciality occupations may include fields such as science, engineering and information technology.
“Congress set a cap of 65,000 H-1B visas per fiscal year. An advanced degree exemption from the H-1B cap is available for 20,000 beneficiaries who have earned a US master’s degree or higher. The agency will monitor the number of petitions received and notify the public when the H-1B cap has been met,” it said.
The US agency had recently announced a temporary suspension of premium processing for all H-1B petitions starting April 3 for up to six months. “H-1B petitioners must follow all statutory and regulatory requirements as they prepare petitions to avoid delays in processing and possible requests for evidence,” it said. The filing fee for Form I-129 has increased to $460, and petitioners no longer have 14 days to correct a dishonoured payment.