The H-1B is a non-immigrant visa used by U.S. employers to employ foreign workers in occupations that are considered specialty and require at least a bachelor’s degree or higher in a specific field, generally the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields.
The processing time for the H-1B visa, from when you file the petition till when you can begin working is about six months. But there has been a delay in the processing time because of several reasons.
The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) had announced a temporary suspension of premium processing for cap subject H-1B petitions until Sept 10, 2018. USCIS then extended this suspension, which is likely to last until Feb 19, 2019. The suspension now will also include additional H-1B petitions as well. This has led to a delay in the overall processing time for these petitions. USCIS has taken this step so that they can catch up with the backlog and ensure that the overall processing times for these petitions can be reduced.
Other reasons for the delay are the general changes in immigration policy and processes - Trump’s policy of tightening the adjudication process for visas, the processes in place to check fraudulent immigration and ensuring that jobs that can be given to U.S. citizens are not handed out to foreign workers.
Also, recent times have seen a surge in Requests for Evidence (RFEs). USCIS issues RFEs when they want more information than is provided in the application and the supporting documentation. They want to ensure that the employer and employee are able to justify the basis and qualifications for employment respectively. USCIS is scrutinizing whether the applicant meets the requirements of the specialty occupation. They also want to establish that the wages given to the H-1B visa holders is befitting of the level at which they are employed. Level I signifies entry level and this does not necessarily require a person with specialty qualifications and can be offered to a local person instead of a foreigner.
Whether you are an employer or an employee, ensuring that the application is prepared in a manner that will not trigger any RFE is what you can do to see that there is no undue delay in processing your application.
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Immigration law can be complicated and this article does not exhaust all the circumstances surrounding delays in processing H-1B visas and RFEs. These issues can be extremely complex, and a single misstep could potentially lead to a rejection of your application or other immigration penalties. If you have any questions regarding this matter, please do not hesitate to contact our office.
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