Just last week (April 1), people began submitting their petitions for H-1B visas. Within days, the overall cap reached its limit for the H-1B application. Now, the country will have to determine which individuals should be prioritized in this process.

What is H-1B?

It is one of the many components affected by the recent wave of executive orders.

In a nutshell, H-1B is a three-year long visa which an individual applies for if they’re planning to work for a business in the United States that would normally require at least a bachelor’s degree.

There are some requirements to apply for an H-1B. These requirements, as set by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, are:

  1. The U.S. employer and the employee they’re petitioning for must have a stable relationship
  2. The job must be categorized as a specialized occupation
  3. The job must be related to the individual’s field of study
  4. If the individual does not obtain a bachelor’s degree, the individual must be paid the actual or prevailing wage of the occupation
  5. H-1B visas should still be available

The original cap for limited visas has been set at 65,000 each fiscal year: with 20,000 more for those with a master’s degree or higher.

So what does the executive order have to do with H-1B?

Foreigners applying for the H-1B visa are subject to a longer visa approval process. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced that starting April 3, it would suspend “premium processing” for up to six months. Those that who would hear within 15 days whether they’d get their visa will now have to wait a couple of months. This plays a tremendous role on professionals, including medical professionals, who are ready and willing to work and help our underserved communities, but are being burdened with these delays.

What is the reasoning?

It’s a “cheap labor program.” At least, that’s what the president said during his election campaign. It is seen as an additional program that takes away jobs from Americans at lower salaries.

USCIS states that suspending premium processing is actually a good thing. The backlog of long-pending visa petitions will be reduced and overall H-1B processing time will fasten.

Only time will tell if this order was an attempt to help the process or just another technique to stop unwanted foreigners from entering the country, despite their importance in many of our communities.

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