H1 Visas in news again: Applications for Fiscal Year 2018 Beginning April 3

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, USCIS,  announced on March 15, 2017 that it will accept H-1B Petitions for Fiscal Year 2018 Beginning April 3 (Link: USCIS Announcement). The announcement added

The H-1B program allows companies in the United States to temporarily employ foreign workers in occupations that require the application of a body of highly specialized knowledge and a bachelor’s degree or higher in the specific specialty, or its equivalent. H-1B specialty 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 U.S. 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. 
USCIS recently announced a temporary suspension of premium processing for all H-1B petitions starting April 3 for up to six months. While H-1B premium processing is suspended, petitioners will not be able to file Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing Service, for a Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker which requests the H1B nonimmigrant classification.
In the past years, USCIS had been accepting the applications during first five business days. During the initial few days, they would receive enough petitions to fill in the Congressional mandated 85,000 H-1B visas. Media and immigration consultants are speculating if this year be different.  This 85,000 Congressional mandated limit on H-1B visas include 65,000 in the general category and another 20,000 for foreign students who have masters or higher degree from a US academic institutions.
Top H1 sponsoring companies (link to list) include Indian, American and European software service firms including Infosys, Capgemini, Tata Consultancy Services, IBM, Wipro, Accenture, Tech Mahindra (Americas), Deloitte Consulting, Cognizant Technology Solutions. The top-20 list includes software companies like Google, Microsoft and Amazon.

Other articles and blogs on the topic

Premium Processing for All H-1B Petitions to be suspended starting April 3, 2017 : what should you know

Here is a recent announcement by US’s Immigration services that is making headlines

USCIS Will Temporarily Suspend Premium Processing for All H-1B Petitions starting April 3, 2017 (link)

Image: Reuters

Text of official announcement follows:

Starting April 3, 2017, USCIS will temporarily suspend premium processing for all H-1B petitions. This suspension may last up to 6 months. While H-1B premium processing is suspended, petitioners will not be able to file Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing Service for a Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker which requests the H-1B nonimmigrant classification. We will notify the public before resuming premium processing for H-1B petitions.

Who Is Affected

The temporary suspension applies to all H-1B petitions filed on or after April 3, 2017. Since FY18 cap-subject H-1B petitions cannot be filed before April 3, 2017, this suspension will apply to all petitions filed for the FY18 H-1B regular cap and master’s advanced degree cap exemption (the “master’s cap”). The suspension also applies to petitions that may be cap-exempt.

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.

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. Therefore, we will refund the premium processing fee if:

  1. The petitioner filed the Form I-907 for an H-1B petition before April 3, 2017, and
  2. We did not take adjudicative action on the case within the 15-calendar-day processing period.

This temporary suspension of premium processing does not apply to other eligible nonimmigrant classifications filed on Form I-129.

The suspension of premium processing of H1 Visa applications is making headlines in Tech and business media around the world. This is being seen as yet another move by President Trump’s administration to tighten and control the processing of work-visa applications to the US.

As per GaramChai.com’s report, top 10 Indian Software services companies including Infosys, Wipro, TCS, Cognizant and others are the top H1 visa sponsors (list of top sponsors in 2016-2017).

The premium processing basically guarantees a decision in 15 days, which makes it extremely useful for businesses looking to hire someone at short notice. Most employers will not be in a position to wait for 8-10 months for a regular processing.

Although media is focused on the impact of the visas on Software service companies, many of these firms – including IBM, Accenture, Deloitte, Infosys, Wipro, TCS, Cognizant – sponsor H1 Visa applications for scores of employees much in advance of specific client requests. Such applications are unlikely to be hit by any backlog. At least not in the long term.

Media reaction to the announcement:

Q&A: What is Eb5 visa?

Given the hype in the media over potential changes to American visa and immigration regulations, EB5 is being touted by immigration consultants and an “easy” way to get an American Green Card.

Let us start with the Official: USCIS Link EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program

USCIS administers the EB-5 Program. Under this program, entrepreneurs (and their spouses and unmarried children under 21) are eligible to apply for a green card (permanent residence) if they:

– Make the necessary investment in a commercial enterprise in the United States; and

 

– Plan to create or preserve 10 permanent full-time jobs for qualified U.S. workers.

The following link to GaramChai.com Eb5 visa section has a more detailed description and analysis of the EB5 program

EB5 is an American “investor” visa. The EB-5 visa provides a method of obtaining a green card for foreign nationals who invest money in the United States. To obtain the visa, individuals must invest $1,000,000 (or at least $500,000 in a Targeted Employment Area – high unemployment or rural area), creating or preserving at least 10 jobs for U.S.

Assuming you are a high-net worth individual who can afford to invest US$ 0.5 to 1 million, it is still worth heeding the Investor Alert: Investment Scams Exploit Immigrant Investor Program (USCIS and SEC caution investors)

If your investment through EB-5 turns out to be in a fraudulent securities offering, you may lose both your money and your path to lawful permanent residency in the United States. Carefully vet any EB-5 offering before investing your money and your hope of becoming a lawful permanent resident of the United States.

In your own words: Stories of those affected by Trump’s visa ban in US

Here are a few personal accounts of people affected by President Trump’s Executive action on Visa bans.

Kamran Khan, works at Microsoft
My wife and I are legal permanent residents of US. Our two-year old son was born here. Pakistan has not been placed on the list, yet.

But we are not leaving the country for foreseeable future. Trump’s absolutely bonkers and random. His executive orders come as surprise to even his own cabinet. Who knows, maybe we’ll drive to Vancouver and upon returning a few hours later we’ll be told that we cannot enter USA anymore. We’re not going back home to visit family or relatives.

We are thankfully, not refugees. But the general atmosphere now is that of fear and apprehension. I don’t go to the mosque — or for that matter, I’m not even a religious person — but that does not mean that I’m not afraid.


Pourya Darnihamedani, ; Entrepreneurship Researcher

I was planning to go to a conference in Atlanta in the summer, Academy of Management to present my paper and get to know other scholars. But this idea is shattered by Mr. Trump’s order. When I think about it, it feels horrible and unjust to be banned only because of my nationality (Iranian); something that is randomly assigned to you and you have no control over it.

I have nothing to do with terrorism as I am merely an academician and entrepreneurship writer. Yet, they imposed a ban on someone like me. I really like the US as a country since I traveled four times before but now it seems unlikely..

Iranians form a successful and intellectual community in the US and there has never been ANY terrorist attack by Iranians so I am sure that there are other reasons to put my country in the list.


Niyati Vishwanath

My cousin’s H4 Visa was recently rejected, so he moved from where he was working in Orlando and stayed with us for a few weeks before his flight back to India. He left SFO on a Thursday red-eye and, due to flight pricing, decided to take a 3-leg flight East instead of flying West over the Pacific, which is what we usually do when going to India.

He had a stopover in Dallas/Ft Wth right after Trump announced the visa ban, and had no idea what was going on.

We got a call from him on Friday morning that went something like this (translated into English)-
“Did something important happen during my flight?”
“No, not really, why? Did your flight get cancelled??” (He had a two hour stopover so any delays would have made him miss two more subsequent flights)

“No, no, that’s all fine, but I was just randomly stopped and asked for a passport check and they said it was new protocol, do you know anything about that?”

After some digging we realized that he was randomly stopped while walking from one terminal to the other and asked to show his passport by an airport official. He said they asked him several question about his Indian passport and checked it for its authenticity before letting him go.


Benyamin Jamshideyan, Swedish, Aspiring Writer/Poet, Dreamer

I was actually planning on traveling to USA during spring, which has always been my dream. I was planning on traveling to Venice at first, but then I said to myself: “why not New York or Los Angeles, like you always wanted?”

I love New York. My fictional work is based on a lot of things about the city and the vibe that I’ve always felt vibrating from it whenever seeing it in art, film or reading it in a book. I actually know some streets now, because of research for my book. The city, in my opinion, is breathtaking and unique. I played GTA IV, just so that I could feel the dark, rainy New York City feel washing into my soul here in Sweden.

I’ve never been a fan of the American government (as one may know if they’ve been following me on Quora). Not that I’m much of a fan of any state’s government in the world, really.

Now I obviously can’t since I’m of Iranian descent and a national through my parents, despite the fact that I was raised in Sweden from the age of 1.5. I’m not politically involved, not an activist in any form, just a normal Swedish national who aspires to be a writer and is deeply both influenced and inspired by the culture of USA.


Faria Ali, Studying mind basis of politics
We are US citizens born in Pakistan. My spouse’s parents are legal Permanent residents from Pakistan. Although Pakistan is not on the list yet, like Kamran Khan mentioned who the heck knows.

They are visiting Pakistan right now for a wedding. Who knows if they will be allowed back in and how long my two children aged two and four will be waiting for their Grammy and granddaddy whom they adore.

What is disturbing about this EO is that it undermines the promise of the United States government. A legal Permanent Resident is essentially a United States citizen minus voting and jury duty. Lawful Permanent Residents | Homeland Security so going forward this does not mean anything if you happen to be Muslim. You are not welcome in your own country where you have your life, your home, the people you love.

I’m also not a practicing Muslim but who cares. Now we wait if our kids grandparents make it back in a few weeks and how much of the “extreme vetting” 75 year olds with health issues can endure.

This is not the country we made home two decades ago as aspiring teenagers. We don’t recognize this America.

Read the rest of the accounts on Quora