H-1B Premium Processing Resumes After COVID-19 Slowdown

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will resume premium processing for H-1B petitions at the beginning of June, according to the agency

Starting June 8, USCIS will accept premium processing requests for H-1B petitions filed before June 8 “that are pending adjudication and are cap-exempt.” On June 15, premium processing will begin for other petitions, including those H-1B applicants who request premium processing “by filing an I-907 concurrently with their I-129” and meet other conditions.

Earlier this year, USCIS slowed processing for many types of visa petitions due to the COVID-19 pandemic. “Beginning with the first day of filing, April 1, 2020, we will not immediately enter data for FY 2021 cap-subject petitions due to the COVID-19 pandemic and required health and safety protocols,” read the agency’s note. “Data entry and notice generation will be delayed until at least May 1, 2020.”

At the time, USCIS also indicated that, once it regained sufficient capacity, it would process petitions in the order received: “Petitions, if otherwise properly filed, will retain the receipt date that corresponds with the date the petition is received at the service center.”

The federal government has faced a record number of H-1B applications filed via a new electronic pre-registration system for the 2020-21 fiscal year. That pre-registration system is meant to streamline the application process and reduce the amount of information that needs to be shuttled between applicants and government reviewers. Only pre-registrations selected via lottery will move on to complete the (lengthier) visa petitions.

As COVID-19 has swept the nation, spiking the unemployment rate and restricting travel, critics of the H-1B program have debated whether it should exist at all. At the beginning of May, four U.S. senators (Tom Cotton (R-ARK.), Ted Cruz (R-TX.), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), and Josh Hawley (R-MO)) sent a letter to President Trump asking for a suspension of all new guest worker visas, including the H-1B, for at least 60 days.

“There is no reason why unemployed Americans and recent college graduates should have to compete in such a limited job market against an influx of additional H-1B workers, most of whom work in business, technology, or STEM fields,” the letter stated.

At the moment, the long-term rate of H-1B denials remains elevated, and it’s impossible to determine the long-term impact of COVID-19 on visas and immigration (the Niskanen Center, a think tank that advocates immigration reform, believes that the pandemic may force more than 250,000 legal immigrants to leave the country by the end of this month).  

In the meantime, though, the return of premium processing suggests that USCIS is managing to deal with its COVID-19 backlog. 

Visit our COVID-19 Resource Center, which aims to provide the tech community with the best, most up-to-date information on the novel coronavirus. 

23 Responses to “H-1B Premium Processing Resumes After COVID-19 Slowdown”

  1. Minimize the work and student visas and once visa period is done, let them go. Halt Green cards and family Citizenship’s to save social security fund, excess population, greenery (too many apt and house constructions) and commute time.

    • Need to limit the H1’s, L1s…and all other work visas issued, specially to Indian IT firms. (they have milked and abused these visas for decades now)
      Its really simple. The US govt should issue and allow H1, L1, work visas holders…(or even students) to come and work in US for their stipulated/ authorized time. After that they need to go back to where they came from, period.

    • Agreed. Time to limit the H1, L1s etc. These guys can come, but should leave after their stipulated visa time ends. Enough of Indian tech cos fleecing and milking US companies

  2. Chuck

    “There is no reason why unemployed Americans and recent college graduates should have to compete in such a limited job market against an influx of additional H-1B workers…”

    This quote says it all.

    • Michael S.

      Because Corporate America is so successful at convincing our elected official there is no talent in U.S. The real reason is let corporate America make more money. Its so obvious. Time to vote the bums out, but is too late to save the American Programmer. Wait till the consequences flood in.

  3. Joseph

    Give me ONE reason why there should be ANY H-1B processing at a time of massive unemployment of Americans in general and American tech workers.

    What good is American citizenship?

    • Because USCIS relies in the money that applicants pay for visas. If there are fewer applications, or if applications are taking too long to be reviewed, that means less money for USCIS.

  4. Cynthia M Sexton

    People in India look at the US & see nothing but a bunch of fools in Gov’t & companies handing jobs away to anyone who isn’t American. Great situation for them. Best hope is a war btwn China/India. A plague didn’t work.

  5. Jake smith

    I want to thank the president who went to India and sold us out, what did he do about the H4 visa? Nothing, now with unemployment in record highs he brings more indian workers

    • Alex Prine

      I work with 8 out of 10 people in my IT department from Asia. These people are really good. End of the day corporations are not just getting cheap labor. I have seen some of the Americans unable to deliver. When push comes to shove someone has to deliver, and I am not sorry to admit, that it is Talent that delivers (I aint saying H-1B or not H-1B), but being competitive is the need of the hour to survive. the one who is more competitive will win it. Where is the question of foreign worker Vs native born ? Isn’t that simple enough to understand ? I know that corporations do not PAY any LESS to bring in such talent, Believe me, they are paid at par, plus other administrative paper work fees that come along on a recurring basis.

    • Danny

      I used to work at Intel in Hillsboro, Oregon in 2005 and everywhere I look inside the FAB, people were all white people except for a very few Filipino operators and Vietnamese technicians. Then I moved back to Intel in Santa Clara, California on the same year where workers were diversified. I got an opportunity work again at Intel in Hillsboro in 2015 and I was surprised that everywhere I turned my head, I saw Hindus. I felt like I moved to India. It was during the term of President Obama. He made our military weak, closed NASA, opened our borders to both legal and illegal immigration, and offered obamacare to all lower income legal and illegal citizens. I worked 6 months in a year in 2013 and can not afford health insurance after I got laid off but IRS fined me for not getting covered for 6 months. He was and until now armed IRS to take away meager refund or fine low income individuals in order to cover the health insurance of lazy unemployed Americans and illigal aliens. obamacare is communism in the low income only people in America. H1B was grossly abused during Clinton/Lewinsky era and worst in Obamacare era. Do your real research.

  6. Kulapar Gurej

    “There is no reason why unemployed Americans and recent college graduates should have to compete in such a limited job market against an influx of additional H-1B workers…”

    That doesn’t makes sense for IT jobs, as we can see the unemployment rate decreased.

    Table 1: U.S. Unemployment Rate in Computer Occupations
    Occupations January 2020 April 2020
    Computer Occupations 3.0% 2.8%
    All Other Occupations 4.1% 15%

  7. Alex Prine. What is your real name, Mahesh Pakianathan? I have seen how these H1 perform from last 20 years in different companies. Most of them are below subpar. I am not saying some are not good. These South Indians (Madrasi) only hire South Indian and their friends. There is no room for anyone outside, not even Indians from other parts of India. It has become a South Indian IT mafia. The damage done is so deep that it does not even matter who gets elected now. This non-sense has been going on for 20+ years.