US to halt fast processing of H-1B visa petitions for high-skilled workers

By on March 4, 2017


The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) said Friday it will suspend premium processing for all H-1B visa petitions from April 3 and it may last up to six months. (Photo: Presidio of Monterey/Facebook)
The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) said Friday it will suspend premium processing for all H-1B visa petitions from April 3 and it may last up to six months. (Photo: Presidio of Monterey/Facebook)

WASHINGTON—The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) said Friday it will suspend premium processing for all H-1B visa petitions from April 3 and it may last up to six months.

The department wants to “reduce overall H-1B processing times” by halting premium processing, according to a press release on its website.

The H-1B is a non-immigrant visa in the United States under the Immigration and Nationality Act. It allows US employers to temporarily employ foreign workers in specialty occupations.

Under the current system, a company that is sponsoring a potential employee or current employee’s H-1B petition may fill out a form to expedite the processing of that petition. After paying an additional USD1,225 fee for this service, USCIS responds typically in 15 calendar days, whereas standard H-1B petitions may take anywhere between three and six months to receive a judgement.

For Silicon Valley companies, many of which employ large numbers of H-1B holders, this move could signal that waiting times for approval may get much longer, said a report from the Verge multimedia website.

Up to 85,000 H-1B visas are issued annually, but demand has far outstripped supply in recent years, according to the report.