US Immigration agency suspends fast-track H-1B processing
- The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) suspended the fast-tracking process for H-1B visas, leaving foreign workers with nowhere to turn and U.S. recruiters out of money, The Guardian reports. H-1B visas allow highly skilled workers from abroad to take jobs in the U.S.
- Premium processing permitted H-1B applicants to pay $1,225 in extra fees to speed up a response within 15 days. The USCIS claimed the suspension would help the agency clear a backlog of applications. But the move has raised suspicion that the agency was following through on President Donald Trump’s promise to clamp down on the entry of immigrants into the U.S. and uphold the immigration ban.
- The suspension halts recruitment that is already in progress, Amy Caruso, a recruiter with Grit Matters, told the Guardian. She said she has two job candidates who can’t go forward in the recruitment process, plus she’ll need to cover the legal fees involved.
Employers, especially high-tech firms who need highly specialized workers, might have to postpone their recruiting plans for visa holders. The wait could be as long as six months, says the Guardian. But even if the stay is lifted, change is likely on the horizon. Republicans and the Trump administration want to overhaul the lottery-based H-1B visa program and possibly replace it with a petition system.
Trump made saving Americans’ jobs the center of his presidential campaign. But, as tech firm leaders recently told him in a closed-door White House meeting, there’s no jobs shortage in the U.S.; instead, there’s a shortage of highly skilled, specialized workers.
Many foreign workers have the skills U.S. firms say they need, but if immigration limitations extend, companies will need to invest in training the workers they currently have for the jobs that need filling.