Blow for Irish tech workers planning work move to US

US suspends fast processing of high-tech H-1B visa applications

The H-1B non-immigrant visa allows US companies to employ graduate-level workers in several specialised fields, including information technology, medicine, engineering and mathematics.

The H-1B non-immigrant visa allows US companies to employ graduate-level workers in several specialised fields, including information technology, medicine, engineering and mathematics.

 

Foreigners, including Irish workers, aiming for temporary jobs at high-tech US companies will undergo a longer visa approval process after the Trump administration announced it will temporarily suspend expedited applications for H-1B visas.

Experts previously said that efforts to limit the visa programme could have “devastating consequences” for Irish start-ups and workers stateside. Between 2010 and 2015, more than 3,200 such visas were issued to Irish citizens, with an average of 640 provided each year to IT professionals moving to the US. The visa entitles citizens to stay for a maximum of six years.

The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) said on Friday that starting April 3rd it will suspend “premium processing” for up to six months. Under this expedited premium processing 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 US companies to employ graduate-level workers in several specialised 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 individual.

Visas cap

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 US citizens.