A secret agenda may be the cause of United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recent suspension of Premium Processing for all H-1B applications. We wrote before on a possible change in H-1B visa policy to reflect President Trump’s core message of America First. The America First H-1B visa policy possibly explains the USCIS suspension of premium processing for H-1B visas.
The USCIS claims the suspension will reduce the overall processing time. Without premium processing it takes approximately eight months to get an H-1B visa. If Steve Bannon played a role in the change of policy, we suspect a ulterior motive behind it. Some people in the Trump administration have complained about the H-1Bs taking Americans’ jobs. While this belief is only substantiated with alternative facts, a very real policy change in awarding H-1B visas occurred. A new reality confronts the lottery for the visas subject to the cap of only a grand total of 85,000 visas for private employers.
The wait list for determining those H-1B visa holders just expanded from a couple of weeks to months and month. That time provides the Trump administration with lots of time to pick and choose what applications to approve. The expedited processing of an application allows for the Trump administration to hand pick who gets an H-1B first.
Secret Agenda in Expedited Processing?
One bipartisan bill, H-1B and L-1 Visa Reform Act of 2017, proposes to reform the program by instructing officials to grant visas on merit, rather than through a lottery. Perhaps the next USCIS announcement ends the lottery. Without having to pick at random the H-1B visas, and with an eight month processing time, the Trump administration can sift through all the applications and give them to whomever they think is “good” for their America First mantra. Therefore, expect “America First” H-1B visas to grow in size while outsourced H-1B to take up less of the share.
In its statement regarding suspension of the premium processing, USCIS stated that it will continue to accept requests for expedited processing during the suspension. Petitioners can request to expedite an H-1B petition if they meet the criteria on the Expedite Criteria webpage. The petition must demonstrate that it meets at least one of the expedited criteria. These include severe financial loss to company or person; emergency situation; humanitarian reasons. Finally, USCIS may expedite an H-1B visa application if it is in its compelling interest. This term is not defined and subject to its own discretion. USCIS stated that it will review all expedite requests on a case-by-case basis and that requests are at the discretion of the office leadership.