Expedited H1-B Visa Processing Temporarily Suspended

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) on Friday announced plans to temporarily suspend for up to six months premium processing of H-1B skilled worker visa applications, eliminating the option of shorter wait times for the program that helps highly skilled foreigners work at US companies, CNN reported. Starting April 3, petitioners will not be able to file Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing Service for a Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker which requests the H-1B nonimmigrant classification.

Universities hire many foreign-born employees on H-1B visas, reported Inside Higher Ed, and the H-1B provides a route by which some international alumni of American universities get the right to work long term in the U.S.

USCIS said the suspension is intended to "reduce overall H-1B processing times" by allowing the government to "process long-pending petitions, which we have currently been unable to process due to the high volume of incoming petitions and the significant surge in premium processing requests over the past few years."

Under the current system, companies submitting applications for H-1B visas for potential employees can pay extra for expedited, or premium, processing, CNN reported. Premium processing costs an additional $1,225 and ensures a response from the US Citizenship and Immigration Services in 15 days or the fee is refunded. Processing of standard H-1B applications takes between three to six months.

The change came just ahead of President Donald Trump's new executive order, signed Monday, barring nationals from six Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S. The order, effective March 16, does not apply to lawful permanent residents of the U.S. or to individuals with valid visas, including student and exchange visas.


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