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Department of Homeland Security Reintroduces Limited Expedited Visa Processing

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Immigration has been one of the most volatile areas of American policy since the beginning of the Trump Administration. The means by which foreign nationals can achieve temporary or long-term legal status in the US seem to be in a constant state of flux. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has recently announced that it would be reinstating (on a limited basis) a program that permits applicants to accelerate the process of receiving an H-1B visa. Read on to learn if you or your employee might qualify under the exemption.

Premium processing suspension beginning to lift

In April of 2017, USCIS suspended “Premium Processing” requests for H-1B visa applications, stating that they needed time to work through a backlog of requests. Premium processing allows applicants for visas to pay an additional fee to obtain an accelerated review of their petition. Initially, the USCIS had stated that the suspension of premium processing would last for six months, but in recent weeks the agency has begun reintroducing premium processing for certain populations of visa applicants.

In June of this year, USCIS again permitted participants in the Conrad 30 program to request Premium Processing. The Conrad 30 program allows foreign physicians who participated in the J-1 program to waive the two-year residence requirement by accepting a full-time position in an area deemed to suffer from a shortage or to be underserved by medical personnel.

Cap-exempt organizations now able to request Premium Processing

Most recently, the USCIS announced that applicants for H-1B exempt visas would again be permitted to request Premium Processing. The H-1B program is divided among recipients who are exempt and non-exempt. Most employers in the fields of academia, nonprofit research, or medicine are not subjected to the annual cap of 85,000 H-1B visas, as most for-profit companies are. As of July 24, 2017, certain of these exempt employers are again able to request Premium Processing for their H-1B applications, including nonprofits related to higher education, institutions of higher education, and nonprofit or governmental research organizations. Additionally, employers who are not themselves exempt from the cap, but who will employ a worker at a cap-exempt institution, can also request Premium Processing. Contact a knowledgeable and well-informed immigration attorney for assistance in navigating these constantly-shifting laws and policies.

If your organization is facing an issue related to immigration in Southern California, contact a seasoned and dedicated San Diego business immigration lawyer at Esprit Law for a consultation at 619-876-0503.

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