The US has resumed premium processing of H-1B work visa petitions, six months after it was suspended in March to clear the backlog of long-pending petitions. This will help Indian IT companies, who are the biggest users of these visas, to better plan their projects and deal with exigencies.
Companies use premium processing to expedite the processing of H-1B petitions paying $1,225, in addition to the regular filing fee of over $4,000. The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) guarantees processing these petitions within 15 calendar days.
Vikram Shroff, lead for HR law at law firm Nishith Desai Associates, said, the latest move brings back on track the H-1B visa programme and allows Indian IT companies to fast track applications to meet urgent client de liverables. Stephen Yale-Loehr, professor of immigration law practice at Cornell Law School, said companies are very glad that premium processing has resumed. “Normal processing times for H-1B petitions can be several months. By paying the premi um processing fee, companies and employees can get an answer in 15 days. This helps companies and employees better plan, especially on time-sensitive projects,” he said. He estimates that more than half of H-1B applications use premium processing.
Cyrus D Mehta, managing partner of New York-based Cyrus D Mehta & Partners, said, the employment start date for applicants this fiscal is October 1, “and so by expediting the case under premium processing, the employee can start work on October 1 itself.”
In March, USCIS had suspended premium processing in order to “process long-pending petitions, which we have currently been unable to process due to the high volume of incoming petitions and the significant surge in premium processing requests over the past few years.”