U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will temporarily suspend premium processing for H-1B visa petitions that are subject to the annual lottery, which starts on April 2. USCIS expects to resume premium processing after Sept. 10.
USCIS will continue to accept premium processing requests for H-1B petitions that are exempt from the lottery, such as those submitted by universities and nonprofit research institutions. The annual lottery as a cap of 85,000 H-1B visas.
With premium processing, a company pays a $1,225 fee to find out within 15 calendar days whether a prospective employee is eligible for an H-1B visa for specialty occupations. Without premium processing, a company may be waiting 6 to 8 months—or longer—for a decision. However, USCIS approval does not guarantee the candidate will receive an H-1B after a consular interview.
The Alcorn Immigration Law team knows what it takes to put together successful H-1B petitions. Moreover, we rarely receive requests from USCIS for additional information or documentation, which can further delay the process. Contact us as soon as possible.
USCIS says that temporarily stopping premium processing will allow it to reduce the overall processing time for H-1B petitions by enabling the agency to catch up on long-pending petitions. The agency will prioritize processing H-1B petitions for extensions, which are approaching 240 days to adjudicate.
Submitting an H-1B petition to transfer or extend an existing employee’s status is exempt from the lottery. However, a company must file for transfers or extensions before April 2 if it wants premium processing for those petitions.
Under the Trump administration, H-1B petitions face additional scrutiny and higher denial rates. Given this, we advise clients to:
- Recognize that securing an H-1B for a current or prospective employee and minimizing delays will require more time and effort to present a strong case.
- 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 constraint to fill a specialty position.
USCIS continues to offer expedited processing for H-1B petitions on a case-by-case basis. However, these requests are rare and granted at the discretion of office leadership. A company or organization must submit evidence that its petition requires such processing due to at least one of the following:
- A severe financial loss to the company or H-1B candidate.
- An emergency situation.
- Humanitarian reasons.
- A nonprofit that is furthering the cultural and social interests of the U.S. is involved.
- A situation of national interest or one that involves the Department of Defense. In this case, the expedite request must come from an official U.S. government entity.
- USCIS made an error.
- An issue significant to the interest of USCIS.
We Can Help
Under the Trump administration, H-1B petitions are facing additional scrutiny and higher denial rates. To minimize delays and maximize the chance of success, companies and candidates should assemble strong petitions and evidence. The Alcorn Immigration Law team helps employers and their current or prospective employees with filing H-1B petitions, as well as devising alternative strategies. Contact us.