Expect delays in premium processing for H-1B visa applications this year.
With the annual H-1B lottery fast approaching on April 2 and the expected processing delays, your company should act now to prepare H-1B petitions for prospective candidates—if it hasn’t already. The Alcorn Immigration Law team knows what it takes to put together successful H-1B petitions. Moreover, we rarely receive requests from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for additional information, which can further delay the process. Contact us as soon as possible.
Last week, USCIS officials said the delay will apply to for-profit companies that file H-1B petitions, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. The processing delay is expected to begin after this year’s annual lottery, which kicks off on April 2. (Universities and nonprofit research institutions are exempt from the lottery, which has an annual cap of 85,000 H-1B visas.)
Premium processing significantly reduces the time USCIS takes to determine whether an individual is eligible for a visa. For a $1,225 fee, USCIS will make a determination within 15 calendar days. Otherwise, USCIS could take six to eight months—and possibly longer—to decide.
USCIS occasionally slows premium processing for a few weeks to process an influx of applications. Last year, USCIS took the unusual step of suspending premium processing for H-1B visa applications for several months.
Each year, USCIS typically receives far more H-1B petitions than the number of H-1B visas available. Last year was the first time in five years that the number of H-1B petitions submitted has declined, although demand still far outweighed supply. USCIS received 199,000 H-1B petitions in 2017, down from more than 236,000 petitions received in 2016.
H-1B petitions face additional scrutiny and higher denial rates under the Trump administration. Given this, we are advising clients to:
- Recognize that securing an H-1B for a current or prospective employee will require more time and effort to present a strong case that the H-1B candidate has specialized knowledge for the specialized position.
- Review the job description and duties, salary, and all work locations of the current or prospective employee.
- Consider paying a higher salary to H-1B candidates.
- Remain in close contact with an immigration lawyer and the H-1B candidate to ensure a candidate maintains her or his legal status if already in the U.S. and provide additional documents and information.
- Consider alternatives to an H-1B visa if under a time crunch.
We Can Help
With H-1B petitions facing additional scrutiny and higher denial rates, assembling strong H-1B petitions and evidence is crucial for success. If you need assistance, contact the Alcorn Immigration Law team as soon as possible.
We help employers and their current or prospective employees with filing H-1B petitions, as well as devising alternative strategies. Contact us.