By Merium Malik, Esq. Managing Partner, Malik Law FIrm, P.C.
For H1-B holders, the Trump Government might make it much more difficult to get a Green Card in the future or get a visa renewed, but until that time, H1-Bs can maintain their status.
H1-B program is crucial to the interest of U.S. employers. The way the program is designed is that there are two separate processing lines — normal processing and expedited processing. Normally, those who could afford to pay a higher fee could get their H1-B application processed in just 15 days.
However, since April 3, 2017, United States States Citizenship and Immigration Services, started suspending applications under the premium lane. However, those affected applicants can still request expedited processing if they meet certain criteria under USCIS rules.
We can definitely see how this measure was temporary in nature since USCIS has resumed premium processing starting July 24, 2017 for certain categories such as H1-B applications who are cap-exempt, meaning there is no limit on how many H1-B applications USCIS can approve under this category. The cap-exempt category applies to institutions of higher learning, non-profits related with an institution of higher learning, or a governmental or non-profit research organization. On October 3, 2017, USCIS fully reinstated H1-B visa extension application premium processing under ALL H1-B categories.
WHAT HAS CHANGED IN H1-B FILING PROCESS?
As part of Trump’s “extreme vetting” policy, USCIS will now start mandating in-person interviews for H1-B and several other employment categories when H1-B-visa holders apply for adjustment of status to obtain their Green Cards. This requirement was set in place, beginning October 1, 2017. Interview requirement for adjustment of status applications is not something completely new.
We still have not seen any significant changes to impact the H-1B program as it exists right now, despite Trump Government’s declaration to massively overhaul the immigration system. We are definitely seeing an increase in what’s called an R.F.E. (Request for more Evidence) and these requests are significantly up. Despite creating additional administrative hurdles in navigating the process, USCIS typically approves those petitions if the applicant or his attorney adequately responds to such requests.
Getting rid of H-1B (current or future workers) will hamper economic growth.
Year 2017 clearly demonstrates that our immigration system has a significant amount of challenges that make it a much harder process for certain immigration categories to obtain legal status in the U.S. Our H1-B program hasn’t been subjected to much legal reforms and changes yet. Nevertheless, because it’s hard to predict what will happen in the future and the difficulty with which some applications are processed even from the employer’s side, you should always consult an experienced immigration attorney to discuss your particular situation.