ANNOUNCED AS TEMPORARYNo
Labour market access
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced on March 3, 2017 that starting April 3, 2017, it will temporarily suspend premium processing for all H-1B petitions. The H-1B is a non-immigrant visa under the Immigration and Nationality Act that allows U.S. employers temporarily to employ foreign workers in specialty occupations. The regulations define a "specialty occupation" as requiring theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge in a field of human endeavor, including but not limited to biotechnology, chemistry, architecture, engineering, mathematics, physical sciences, social sciences, medicine and health, education, law, accounting, business specialties, theology, and the arts, and requiring the attainment of a bachelor's degree or its equivalent.
This suspension may last up to 6 months. The temporary suspension applies to all H-1B petitions filed on or after April 3, 2017. While premium processing is suspended, petitioners may submit a request to expedite an H-1B petition if they meet the criteria on the Expedite Criteria webpage (https://www.uscis.gov/node/43424). It is the petitioner’s responsibility to demonstrate that they meet at least one of the expedite criteria, and USCIS encourages petitioners to submit documentary evidence to support their expedite request. The agency will review all expedite requests on a case-by-case basis and requests are granted at the discretion of the office leadership.
USCIS says that this temporary suspension will help it to reduce overall H-1B processing times. Temporarily suspending premium processing, according to thr agency, will enable it to process long-pending petitions and prioritize adjudication of H-1B extension of status cases that are nearing the 240-day mark.
According to USCIS data, the principal recipient countries of these visas are Canada, China, India, Japan, Korea, Mexico, the Philippines, and the United Kingdom.
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