U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) suspended premium processing of H-1B visas effective April 2, 2018. The temporary suspension was scheduled to last until September, but in late August, USCIS announced that it was extending the suspension until February 12, 2019.
The purpose of the H-1B visa is to allow immigrants to legally work in the U.S.; these immigrations are usually highly skilled foreign professionals. The most recent statistics available indicate that about 70% of all H-1B visas are for workers who were born in India to come to the U.S. for employment. By paying an extra fee, individuals previously could request premium processing, which substantially decreased the amount of time necessary for obtaining this type of visa. The fee for expedited processing was most recently $1,225, and it shortened the average wait time for a visa from six months to 15 days.
USCIS officials attribute the temporary suspension of the expedited processing program to an increased volume in H-1B visa petitions and a recent surge in requests for premium processing. The goal of the suspension, according to USCIS, is to reduce backlogs and cut processing times for all H-1B visa petitions. The suspension affects the vast majority of H-1B visa petitions filed, as well as petitions that are subject to the 2019 fiscal year cap.
There are some exceptions to the suspension that remain in place, including employers who are petitioning the Nebraska Service Center to allow a continuation of previously approved employment with the same employer, without any changes. Likewise, companies still may submit requests for expedited processing, but they must be based on certain criteria, such as an emergency situation or a severe financial loss to a persona or company.
No matter the type of immigration issue you are facing, the skilled and knowledgeable immigration lawyers of Peek & Toland are here to assist you. We handle many different types of immigration cases on a daily basis and have the kind of strategic experience and skills that are necessary to reach the desired outcome. By calling our office as quickly as possible after your legal issue arises, we will have the best opportunity to successfully resolve your immigration law case.