The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that to clear a backlog of regular H-1B visa applications, it is suspending for six months a programme that allowed some companies to jump to the head of the queue for quicker processing of H-1B visas by paying a special fee.
This is not a suspension of the H-1B visas, but only of the “Premium Processing”, which allows companies to pay $1,125 to go to the top of the line ahead of those waiting for applications to be processed, the USCIS said on Friday.
“This temporary suspension will help us to reduce overall H-1B processing times”, it added.
H-1B visas are temporary work visas for people with special qualifications and it is used mostly by Indian techies.
The “Premium Programme” suspension is to come into effect from April 3.
Under “Premium Processing”, a decision is made on H-1B application within 15 days, while the regular applications take more than three months – period that has lengthened because of the surge in “Premium Processing” applications.