h-1b-visa-and-coronavirus:-application-processing-delayed

Coronavirus will delay processing of H-1B visa applications that are subject to the annual cap, federal authorities said.

Although the application period for cap-subject H-1B visas opened April 1, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration said it will not start entering application data into its systems until at least May 1 “due to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

This is the first year of a new application process for the H-1B, under which companies seeking foreign workers electronically register with Citizenship and Immigration for each visa they are seeking. On April 1, the agency said companies whose registrations were accepted had “at least 90 days” to submit applications for the visa. Companies were given “filing windows” specifying deadlines for application submissions, the agency said.

The H-1B, intended for jobs requiring specialized skills, is heavily relied upon by Silicon Valley technology giants, who push to expand the annual 85,000 cap on new visas, arguing that they need more visas to obtain the world’s top talent. Critics say IT staffing firms and tech giants use the H-1B to supplant U.S. workers, drive down wages and move jobs overseas.

Citizenship and Immigration said that once it starts entering H-1B application data into its systems, it will process applications in the order received. “We are mindful of petitions with sensitive expiration and start dates,” the agency said this week in a notice to stakeholders posted online by immigration law firm Berry, Appleman & Leiden, “and will strive to process these petitions as efficiently as possible.”

Citizenship and Immigration this year suspended the $1,440 accelerated “premium processing” service for H-1B applications, as it has done every year since 2017.

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By Arlene Huff

Arlene Huff is the founding member of Golden State Online. Before that She was a general assignment reporter. A native Californian, she graduated from the University of California with a degree in medical anthropology and global health. She currently lives in Los Angeles.

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