The entire world waited with anticipation to hear the news about visa applications and immigration bans with the coming of the Trump administration. President Trump had time and again indicated that under his administration, the United States of America would be tightening controls on immigration and other forms of visas.
After the ill-advised immigration ban on a few Muslim-majority countries, it has transpired that the Trump administration has set its sights on making the H-1B visa tougher to get, a visa that allows foreigners looking for temporary jobs in high-tech U.S. companies. The proposed reforms to the H1-B1 visa program will actually make the process a bit longer, and that foreigners with sought-after skills won’t be fast-tracked anymore. For now the Trump administration has also revealed that it will be temporarily suspending expedited applications for this type of visa.
The H-1B visa type is applicable only for highly skilled workers who want to work at high-tech US companies. It is also applicable for fresh graduates looking for jobs in their particular fields.
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has basically cancelled premium processing for the next six months. These premium processing queues took as long as 15 days to get visas approved for H1-B1 program.
The highest number of foreign workers employed anywhere in the USA are at the Silicon Valley. These new tough rules will adversely affect tech companies based there. Furthermore, this also means that waiting times for approval can get much longer and while companies are allowed to petition on behalf of or sponsor their employees, they still have to pay an additional fee of $1225 and then the USCIS (US Citizenship and Immigration Services) will respond in a matter of two weeks. The newly proposed normal H-1B visa application can take anywhere between three and six months for a response from the USCIS.
Currently the number of H-1B visas that are approved in a year stand at 65,000 applicants, with an addition of 20,000 applicants who have earned their advanced degrees from the US. The original visa is valid for only three years but people can apply to have it extended for another three-year period but that is the maximum limit.
The official reason given for this decision is to decrease the backlog of requests that are already waiting to be processed. However, if this keeps up the Trump administration might just see its relationship with Silicon Valley decline very fast. Almost every big Silicon Valley-based technology company has criticized Trump’s immigration ban in varying degrees since it is in complete contrast to the country’s long-standing history of welcoming immigrants from all over the world.