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USCIS temporarily suspends premium processing of H-1B visas

When employers receive the welcome news that an H-1B visa application they filed on behalf of a prospective employee was one of the lucky 85,000 selected in the H-1B lottery, it doesn't mean that the skilled foreign worker in question is automatically eligible to start working here in the U.S.

Rather, the H-1B visa application submitted on their behalf must now be processed by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, a process that can take anywhere from three to six months. However, in the event an employer needs to get people to work faster, it can pay $1,225 for what is known as "premium processing." 

Under premium processing, USCIS promises that an H-1B visa application will be processed within 15 calendar days or the fee will be refunded in its entirety.

Interestingly enough, USCIS recently made a very important announcement of which those employers who often rely on premium processing to help get their H-1B visa applications through the system faster should be aware.

Specifically, the agency announced that starting April 3, 2017, it would be temporarily suspending premium processing for all H-1B visa petitions and that this suspension may last up to six months. This means that all employers who filed the Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing for a Form I-129, before April 3, 2017, will see it handled as before, while those who file one on or after this date will see it rejected by USCIS.

As to why USCIS is doing this, it indicated that the temporary suspension will enable it to do the following:

  • Begin processing those petitions that have been left pending for a long time under the regular processing system owing to the influx of premium processing requests
  • Prioritize adjudication of H-1B visas extension cases close to the 240-day mark

It's worth noting employers may still submit requests for expedited processing, which are only granted if certain conditions are met and decided on a case-by-case basis.    

If you are an employer with questions about this development or any other immigration-related issue, consider speaking with a skilled legal professional as soon as possible.

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