On July 24, 2017, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that it will resume premium processing of certain H-1B petitions which are exempt from the annual cap, with immediate effect.

As a result, H-1B petitions filed by higher education institutions, not-for-profit research organizations and Governmental research organizations will immediately be eligible for premium processing. Premium processing will also resume for petitions that may be exempt from the annual cap, on the basis that the beneficiary will be employed by a qualifying cap-exempt organization.

Premium processing of H-1B petitions filed on behalf of physicians under the Conrad 30 waiver program resumed on June 26, 2017.

Premium processing is widely perceived to be highly advantageous in the context of the H-1B petition, since it significantly reduces the time frame for an adjudication. If premium processing is used, it may reduce the time taken to receive a decision on an H-1B petition from several months to a guaranteed 15 calendar days.

The H-1B Visa  

The H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa, designed to allow U.S employers to recruit and employ foreign professionals in specialty occupations within the U.S.

In order to qualify for an H-1B visa, an applicant must demonstrate the following:

  • They are in a “specialty occupation”;
  • They have a U.S petitioning employer who, inter alia, offers remuneration equal to or more than the prevailing wage rate within the relevant State and profession; and
  • They have an offer of employment in a permanent position.

H-1B visas are typically used by Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) companies, to fill skills shortages within the U.S workforce.

In recent years, the H-1B visa has generated considerable controversy and debate, due to the nature of the H-1B visa application process. H-1B visa applications may only be made during a limited application window and the number of H-1B visas issued annually is subject to a global cap of 65,000, for non-Master’s degree holders. The cap is generally exceeded within five days of the start of the application season, leading to a lottery element to the grant of the visa. Indeed, over 236,000 H-1B visa applications were filed in fiscal year 2016.

Historically, premium processing was available for all types of H-1B visa petitions, for an additional fee. However, on April 3, 2017 the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services suspended premium processing of all H-1B petitions, in a bid to reduce the backlog of H-1B petitions awaiting adjudication.

We are pleased premium processing has resumed, in part. We believe the H-1B visa application process is long overdue radical reform, to enable it to fulfil the requirements of U.S employers and prospective H-1B employees in the 21st Century.

Davies Legal

At Davies Legal, we undertake all types of business immigration including, inter alia, E-1 Treaty Trader visas, E-2 Treaty Investor visas, L-1 Intracompany Transferee visas and H-1B Specialty Occupation visas. We offer a “one stop shop” for all of your business immigration needs, innovative immigration solutions and undertake to keep you informed. Call now to discuss your circumstances with a licensed US immigration attorney and for a free, no obligation quote.

Published: 27th July 2017