Companies in California and across the country, especially in the tech sector, are working to adjust to a sudden change announced by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). On March 19, less than two weeks before the April 1 deadline for H-1B applications, USCIS declared a new procedure for premium processing of some of these applications. The H-1B process involves companies looking to hire highly skilled international workers. In many cases, the workers involved are recent or soon-to-be graduates of U.S. universities with advanced scientific skills and technical training. Successful H-1B visa applicants are chosen under a lottery process that restricts the number of visas available for qualified workers.
The new procedure allows H-1B petitioners to file a second form, I-907, along with Form I-129, in order to receive premium processing. By paying a fee of $1,410, companies can receive a decision on a visa application within 15 days. This can be an important advantage, as typical H-1B processing could take 10 to 13 months for a decision to be received. However, many businesses and law firms are now under pressure to revise their existing, completed applications ready to be filed on April 1.
Premium processing can be especially important for international graduate students. They need to have quick answers about the success of their H-1B petitions, and this service can allow them greater ability to plan. At the same time, some immigration attorneys warned of problems. They said that students may be subjected to more scrutiny and inquiries from immigration authorities as a result.
The H-1B program can be a critical part of the hiring and talent development process for many companies, especially those in the science and technology sectors. An immigration law attorney can provide advice on how best to respond to these changes.