H-1B Visa Premium Processing Resumes, with a Twist

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has resumed premium processing for all fiscal year 2019 (FY2019) H-1B cap petitions, “including those eligible for the advanced degree exemption (the ‘master’s cap’),” according to the agency.

There are some restrictions, however. “The previously announced temporary suspension of premium processing remains in effect for all other categories of H-1B petitions to which it applied,” the agency added. “We plan to resume premium processing for the remaining categories of H-1B petitions as agency workloads permit.”

This “premium processing” allows people (often companies acting on behalf of an applicant) to speed up the review of a petition. A general suspension makes it difficult for people to not only obtain H-1B visas, but also for H-1B holders to jump between jobs or even move to a new company office.

The big question now is whether the Trump administration will actually confirm (and formally announce) its plans to retool the H-1B lottery system. Under the revamped system, H-1B applicant pools will have all applicants (including those with advanced degrees) enter the annual “general pool” of 65,000 visas. After that, remaining applicants with advanced degrees will enter a 20,000-visa “master’s cap” pool.

In the current system, applicants with advanced degrees first enter that “master’s cap” pool; if they’re denied, they subsequently enter the “general pool.” The new system will give them two good shots at actually landing a visa.

Those aren’t the only changes proposed by the Trump administration over the past two years. For example, the U.S. Department of Labor also wants employers to fill out paperwork identifying which visa candidates will end up sent to subcontractors (i.e. “secondary entities”). If that information is made public, it could create a public-relations nightmare for staffing agencies that depend heavily on sending H-1B visa holders to client firms, as they might face questions over why they didn’t hire U.S. citizens.

What does this mean for 2019? Whether or not there’s another government shutdown (which may have an impact on the people who administer the various visa programs), these policy shifts and tweaks may slow the pace of the H-1B program, impacting the businesses that depend on the visa. For critics of the program, however, any slowdown is a good slowdown.

15 Responses to “H-1B Visa Premium Processing Resumes, with a Twist”

  1. H1b is STILL in force. What a major slap in the face to Americans tech!!

    Further damage results when companies, immigration lawyers and lobbyists throw in other visa classifications with L1 visas and others!!

    • All this is a result of the absence of policies from our government.
      The companies that export jobs to other countries are cheating our country,
      because these companies generate all or most of their revenue here in USA.
      However; they outsource the jobs to companies that employ most of the personal offshore and bring visa workers.
      We are loosing the jobs and the taxes from those exported jobs.
      We should not make business with companies that produce their revenue here but robbed us with the jobs that are exporting offshore.

  2. John Doe

    I will never vote for a globalist … ever. Most of the hiring in IT is controlled by visa workers, as are many, if not most, of the jobs. They now have new homes and SUVs while the US citizens they displaced are struggling.

    • Are you Jealous? You can not hide talent, if you have talent, you get good paying salary, if not then only you cry foul like a baby… Indians are educated and more tech savvy, hence their value in job market. Don’t call them cheap labor. They earn more than you do, per your response 😂😂

        • Johny,
          If coding is the only thing then why don’t American kid get a job which Indian guy is getting..! $65k is not cheap labor… American kid can have that? Why don’t they succeed in landing those jobs? Any idea?
          It’s a web of lies that we have created around ourselves and blaiming Indians for our failure to land good jobs, Indians get very high salaries… not at all cheap labor… it’s a misconception ..

        • Do you think big tech companies care about nationality or cheap labor? They need good talent and pay top $ for that. Most Indians complete their masters degree and get a high paying job much above the minimum needed by the H1b visa.
          Its the Indian consultancy companies that abuse the H1b system.

      • Charlie Rufus

        My experience is that Indian workers have tunnel vision. They know how to do one thing and one thing only and while they may do it well, they show an almost universal inability to communicate well. Their English does not adapt and expand, they are unable to explain things in a different way to different audiences and they are very often unwilling to engage with their American coworkers. As a former military dependent, I know about adjusting to different cultures and languages and I see a major fail by most of the Indians and Chinese I have worked with. Additionally, male Indians tend to very much male chauvinists and women find working with them often very difficult. Same reason many American women avoid Indian physicians.

  3. As long as the specialty occupation list gets paired down to exclude occupations in systems analysis and programming, I could care less about premium processing. But it doesn’t look like that’s happening any time soon.

  4. Joey Francis

    Majority of the Indians coming in on H1B visas are low skilled fresh college graduates with little experience. The biggest user of the H1B visa is Cognizant. Not Intel, not Microsoft, not any of the major tech companies. Cognizant is an Indian company thatt specializes in cheap labor. That’s their business model. They bring in not only coders but low skilled people like business analysts, software QA etc. They pay their employees peanuts and promote some of them into management to get them a fast track to green cards. Americans are losing out.

  5. This change does not go far enough – Any site employing any H1b visa holder should openly post the name and their ‘special’ skill that enabled the granting of the visa. We should all know why these people were brought into the country. And we should all be able to complain when they are incapable of doing their work (as frequently happens).