h1-b visa

How to Deal with Suspension of Expedited Processing of H-1B Visa

In suspending the expedited processing of the H-1B Visa, which takes effect on April 3, representatives of the current administration attributed the reasons to a need to sort out and resolve the backlog of applications that go back as far as two years. Detractors of the move cite it as politically motivated and part of the new president’s scheme to limit immigration and/or assignment of U.S.-based work to foreigners. Regardless of the reason, industries depending on fresh blood from other shores, such as tech and health, will be hit hard by this new ruling.

Global mobility specialists tasked to fill in jobs with workers from other countries may find their projects crippled or hampered, not even being able to look forward to a date wherein they can pick up the slack and renew their recruitment efforts.

As explained by the SF Gate, the highly coveted H-1B visa allows a foreign worker to stay in the U.S. and work for his sponsoring company for a period of three to six years. Approval of an application, normally made by said company, takes months. If the need is urgent, the company can pay a processing fee of $1,225 to know whether its candidate is eligible to receive such a visa or not. The answer usually comes after 15 days.

CNN points out that several key industries will be adversely impacted by this recent ruling. The tech giants in Silicon Valley regularly get their engineers and other high-skilled workers from countries like India, because they are hard-pressed to get similar talents in the U.S. The suspension will inevitably affect projects dependent on this IT think tank.

The next sector to suffer are America’s medically underserved communities which depend on the service of foreign medical graduates who choose to work in the U.S. after getting their degree from American universities, instead of returning to their home country.

These medical practitioners include doctors, nurses, pharmacists, dentists,and  medical technicians. For the past 15 years, about 1,000 foreign doctors a year have entered the U.S. to work in remote areas struggling with a limited number of physicians and nurses. Now the suspension of the H-1B visa has blown up the bridge that has brought those healers to Americans who cannot get their medical services the usual way.

Global mobility specialists are also feeling the pressure right now, given the very probable scenario that their chosen assignees, who are still living in their home country, might end up not coming onboard at all.

Given the tenuous situation, they must keep calm and look at the bigger picture. Here are a few tips on how to move forward.

First, the suspension will extend to applications made for 2018. Technically, that means earlier applications will be processed according to the regular time frame. The global mobility specialist should calculate the point of entry of candidates he had screened and accepted prior to the suspension. Next, he should do the same for those who he had planned to bring to the U.S. by 2018.

Second, consult an immigration lawyer ASAP. Although no one can foresee the total implications of the suspension, immigration lawyers would be in a better position to give advice on possible developments and how the company can cope. He can also weed out fact from fiction, and truth from speculation. With all facts in hand, the global mobility specialist can now make definite plans of action and move out of the paralysis that all the rumors could have entrapped him in.

Third, the global mobility specialist should solicit the help of management and all the arsenal in its firepower to ensure the onboarding of the candidates whose applications had been approved prior to the suspension. All effort must be exerted to get them to step inside the U.S. office at the previously scheduled time. All obstacles must be assessed and addressed ASAP. If onboarding slows down, then contingencies must be put in place, e.g. the temporary assignment of duties to a local, in order to ensure the continuity of work.

Fourth and finally, if there is even a bit of a chance that certain assignees will not be able to fulfill their agreement because of the suspension, then the global mobility specialist must come up with a backup plan in case the worst scenario happens. This may mean assigning the work to a local staffer or hiring a local altogether. In any case, the company cannot be held hostage to this scenario.

The suspension is a waiting game, Global mobility specialists struggling with this scenario may think they are under siege. However, it would be more fair and less stressful to think that they are involved in a long waiting game. It’s like hunkering down for the day in your home waiting for the storm to pass. Meanwhile, you fortify your shelter, stock up on your groceries, and do your darndest to keep your sanity. Then once the new dawn breaks, you live to fight another day and sign the best assignees possible for companies in northern California.