H-1B Visa Limits Ease — Just a Bit

Hold on, employers! The immigration roller coaster just took another turn. And it may — or, more likely, will not — help you.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced last week that on July 24 it resumed expedited processing of H-1-B visas – but only in certain cases.

The so-called premium service is effectively a fast lane that, for a $1,225 fee, speeds the hiring of foreign skilled workers in certain “specialty occupations” such as software engineer. The service ended in March, soon before President Trump issued his “Buy American, Hire American” executive order. The Trump administration signaled at the time that it would be scrutinizing H-1-B applications more carefully prevent fraud. The apparent targets include offshore staffing services that have been accused of scooping up technical workers in India, China and elsewhere, then placing them in American jobs using visas obtained in bulk.

The new policy applies only to employers not subject to a cap on H-1B visas — that is, universities or related nonprofits, such as institutes and medical centers. Government research organizations also qualify.

The immigration agency said that in June it already had resumed premium processing for physicians. Hospitals, particularly those in rural areas that struggle to find highly experienced doctors without recruiting abroad, had complained about the limit on expedited visa processing.