U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced Friday that it will suspend the expedited “premium” processing of H1-B visas starting in April which may significantly cut back on the number of foreign high-tech workers admitted into the United States.
Starting April 3, 2017, USCIS will temporarily suspend premium processing for all H-1B petitions. This suspension may last up to 6 months. While H-1B premium processing is suspended, 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. We will notify the public before resuming premium processing for H-1B petitions.
H-1B visas, also known as high-tech or skilled worker visas, are used by companies to import cheaper, foreign workers for jobs such as engineers, scientists, information technologists, doctors, and nurses.
These visa application can take as long as six months to process through the normal channel. Premium processing allows for applicants to pay a $1,225.00 fee to expedite the processing. If USCIS is unable to process the visa application within 15 days, the premium processing fee is refunded.
The government is suspending premium processing for a six-month period starting on April 3rd, 2017, due to a “significant surge in premium processing requests over the past few years” indicating that companies are increasingly competing for the 85,000 H-1B visas allotted by the government.
While some say the trend shows that America’s higher education system is unable to turn out qualified STEM workers in necessary numbers, economics is more likely the real driver.
If a company can get a skilled computer programmer for half the cost of a UCLA graduate, they will.