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WASHINGTON Foreigners aiming for temporary jobs
at high-tech U.S. companies will undergo a longer visa approval
process after the Trump administration announced it will
temporarily suspend expedited applications for H-1B visas.
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) said
on Friday that starting April 3 it will suspend “premium
processing” for up to six months. Under this expedited
procedure, applicants can be eligible for visa approvals within
15 days, instead of a regular review period that can last for up
to a few months.
The H-1B non-immigrant visa allows U.S. companies to employ
graduate-level workers in several specialized fields, including
information technology, medicine, engineering and mathematics.
USCIS said that during the suspension period, individuals
still can request expedited consideration, but must meet certain
criteria, such as humanitarian reasons, an emergency situation
or the prospect of severe financial loss to a company or
The United States currently caps H-1B visas at 65,000 a
year, with an additional 20,000 allowed for those who have
earned advanced college degrees in the United States.
The visa is valid for three years but can be extended for an
additional three years.
The agency said that suspending premium processing will
allow it to reduce a backlog of long-pending visa petitions and
thus reduce overall H-1B processing times.
The move comes as the Trump administration also has been
implementing tougher deportation procedures against illegal
immigrants in the United States and has attempted to impose a
visa ban on people from seven primarily Muslim countries. That
ban was put on hold by a federal court.
President Donald Trump campaigned last year on a promise to
crack down on immigrants who he said were taking jobs from U.S.
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