US sus­pends fast-track­ing of visas for skilled work­ers

New Straits Times - - World -

United States au­thor­i­ties are tem­po­rar­ily sus­pend­ing the speedy, pre­mium pro­cess­ing of a visa, which is of­ten used by tech firms to re­cruit foreign skilled work­ers.

Al­though the move comes as Trump pledges to pri­ori­tise jobs for Amer­i­cans, the US Ci­ti­zen­ship and Im­mi­gra­tion Ser­vices (USCIS) said the sus­pen­sion is only meant to help the agency re­duce over­all pro­cess­ing time.

The H-1B visa is is­sued to tens of thou­sands of highly skilled foreign na­tion­als each year, but as of April 3, ap­pli­cants will no longer be able to use a costly short­cut to rush their visa pro­cess­ing.

On Fri­day, USCIS an­nounced that the “pre­mium pro­cess­ing” of H-1B visas — which re­duced wait­ing time from sev­eral months to 15 days for the price of US$1,225 (RM5,390) — would be tem­po­rar­ily sus­pended for up to six months.

Ac­cord­ing to USCIS, the visas are is­sued for spe­cialised oc­cu­pa­tions like sci­en­tists, en­gi­neers and com­puter pro­gram­mers.

The US of­fers 85,000 H-1B visas ev­ery year, most be­ing snapped up by In­dian out­sourcers, whose em­ploy­ees filled a skill gap in en­gi­neer­ing.

Trump is also ex­pected to sign a re­vised travel ban to­day, just over a month af­ter his orig­i­nal de­cree sowed con­tro­versy across the US and chaos at air­ports.

The pres­i­dent will sign the new ex­ec­u­tive or­der at the De­part­ment of Home­land Se­cu­rity, ac­cord­ing to Politico, which cited se­nior gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials.

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