WASHINGTON: The US will start accepting applications for H-1B visas for the next fiscal year from April 1, the federal immigration agency said on Tuesday and announced the launch of a new data hub to increase the transparency of the work visa programme popular among Indian IT companies and professionals.
The H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows US companies to employ foreign workers in speciality occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise.
The technology companies depend on it to hire tens of thousands of employees each year from countries like India and China.
The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced the new H-1B Employer Data Hub.
It will be available on uscis.gov on April 1.
The data hub is part of the USCIS' continued effort to increase the transparency of the H-1B programme by allowing the public to search for H-1B petitioners by fiscal year, NAICS (the North American Industry Classification System) industry code, company name, city, state, or zip code.
This will give the public the ability to calculate approval and denial rates and to review which employers are using the H-1B program, it said.
Simultaneously, the USCIS said the premium processing will be offered in a two-phased approach during the next 2020 cap season.
The fiscal year 2020 begins October 1.
The first phase will include 2020 cap-subject H-1B petitions requesting a change of status and the second phase will include all other fiscal 2020 cap-subject petitions, USCIS said.
"The USCIS continually strives to improve the administration of the H-1B program and make it work better for employers, our agency, and US workers," said USCIS Director L Francis Cissna.
"We are also committed to fulfilling the president's Buy American and Hire American executive order, one of the principal goals of which is to protect the interests of US workers in the administration of our immigration system, in part by promoting the proper functioning of the H-1B visa programme, he said.
As per US President Donald Trump's 'Buy American, Hire American Executive Order, the Department of Homeland Security is reviewing current guidance and regulation to protect American workers while also providing good faith employers the opportunity to recruit H-1B workers where needed.
"Our new H-1B data hub will make information more accessible to the public, and the new selection process will help make the system more meritorious and better protect the wages of US workers. Additionally, our two-phased approach to premium processing will make the process more effective and efficient for employers and the USCIS," Cissna said.