June 21st, 2017
H-1B Premium Processing Suspended in April
The H-1B visa allows U.S. companies to hire graduate-level works in certain specialized fields. The application process for this type of visa can take up to a few months, mainly because of how long it takes for USCIS to review the application. Until April 2017, USCIS offered a “premium processing” option, which expedited the review process. Through the expedited process, applicants could receive approvals within 15 days. In April, however, the Trump administration temporarily suspended premium processing for up to six months, in an effort to reduce the backlog of long-pending visa petitions.
Some argue that the suspension of the expedited process is having a negative effect on a number of industries that rely on foreign workers. In addition to creating practical inconveniences for tech companies and their potential employees, the suspension is also impacting the healthcare industry. In areas of the U.S. that have shortages of American physicians, the communities have started to rely on foreign-born physicians. When premium processing was still an option, foreign-born doctors at completing their residencies at U.S. institutions could receive a job offer, apply for an H-1B visa, finish their residency, and start working within a few weeks. Now, that process could take months, causing a delay that could negatively impact the people in those underserved communities.
Others argue that this suspension is necessary to clear up the backlog and is the first step towards more comprehensive reform to the H-1B visa program. They assert that the current lottery system is not adequately responding to the needs of the U.S. economy and it results in American workers being replaced by foreign visa holders. To respond to these concerns, several bills have been introduced in recent months to reform the H-1B visa system.
In the coming months, the H-1B program may continue to experience changes. We will update you as to any major developments here on our blog.