On March 3, 2017, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) decided to suspend H-1B visas premium processing. The department has stated that the suspension may last for about six months but it is unclear how long the suspension will ultimately last. The USCIS claims that the suspension is a move to speed up all of the incoming applications that they have received so far. However, it does not take effect until April 3rd, which is the next application opening period.
About H-1B Premium Processing
H-1B visas premium processing takes on average as little as a month. The suspension, scheduled to take effect on April 3rd, will take away the option of allowing highly skilled immigrant workers to find out if they have been approved that quickly. Financial Times has stated that this could cause a delay for up until August or September. Mark Zuckerberg’s FWD.us, a technology lobbying group, has been seeking to expand on the program.
President Trump has threatened to put a permanent end to H-1B visas premium processing on the grounds that it promotes “cheaper labor”. When the program was first introduced back in 2001, INS officials claimed that its purpose was to clear the background of those applying to high-technological working visas. Now, the USCIS is claiming to make the opposite move for the same reason.
The USCIS stated another reason for the suspension is to prioritize applications that are still awaiting legal status. This takes an average of about 240 days. Those who have already filed an H-1B may request an expedited processing if they qualify for at least one criteria of expedition and can provide documentary evidence. These requests are examined in an individual manner and as approved by the USCIS’ office leadership.
While the suspension lasts, those applying for the H-1B visas premium processing will not be able to file a Form-I907. This applies to both those who are applying under the regular cap (or limitation) and the master’s degree cap exemptions. Any Form-I907’s with the H-1B will be processed if it is filed before April 3rd. A refund of the premium processing will be awarded for anyone who files before April 3rd and the USCIS did not take any legal action within the 15-day period.
Filing Form-I907 does not alone does not give the petitioners any cap benefits. The cap benefits exist only under the H-1B, H-2B and the H-3. All three contain certain restrictions and the petitioner has to be verified to meet the cap’s criteria in order for the application to be properly processed.
The current suspension of the H-1B visas premium processing is said to be for up to six months. However, it is clearly very uncertain. With the current confusion over the government’s intentions toward immigration, there is clearly no light yet seen at the end of that tunnel. For those who were planning to apply for premium processing, there may still be other options available. To discuss your options, contact the Law Office of Sweta Khandelwal. Attorney Khandelwal has over a decade of experience in immigration law and is located in the heart of the Silicon Valley.