Starting on April 3rd, the option for premium processing of H-1B visas will be suspended. This is an option that allows applicants to pay an additional fee for a chance of accelerated approval so they can get to work in the U.S. sooner.
According to an article from CNBC, while similar suspensions have happened in the past, they have always come with a clear date when the option would be reinstated. This time, there is no precise indication when the option for H-1B premium processing will return, only a six month window. This could lead to serious issues for skilled workers from other countries and their prospective employers.
A Serious Issue For Tech Workers
The CNBC article points out that the H-1B is commonly used to bring highly sought after tech workers into the country by businesses hoping to beat their competitors to the next innovation. However, there are other skilled workers who come into the U.S. on H-1B visas, including doctors and medical professionals.
Getting an H-1B visa was already a challenge, as there was a cap on the number issued and applicants were chosen via a lottery system. However, the premium processing option at least reduced the substantial wait period. Immigration authorities have stated that the reason for the suspension is to catch up on a backlog, although some have expressed concern that this could be a sign of a more dramatic issue.
The Option Is Still Available For Now
The premium processing option for H-1B visas is still available for a few weeks. With fast action, an immigration attorney may be able to help people take advantage of the option until it is suspended on April 3rd. After that date, a skilled immigration attorney can help both skilled workers and prospective employers review other options and to pursue the most efficient path to a positive outcome.