End of Premium Processing for H-1Bs Portends Major Change at USCIS

By John Miano on March 6, 2017

The recent news that the Trump administration is suspending premium processing for H-1B petitions has hit the mainstream media with force. Even massive replacements of Americans by H-1B workers never get this volume of coverage.

This particular action is not in itself significant. However, it portends major change at USICS. (My colleague David North has been thinking along similar lines.)

Premium processing is a service offered by USCIS for a variety of visa petitions. Pay a fee and USCIS will guarantee a decision in 15 days.

Consider the case of the H-1B visa. Some time after April 1, USCIS will select 85,000 visa petitions for initial employment to be processed. It will also have additional petitions for renewals, transfers, and H-1B visas not subject to the quota.

If you put a petition into that work queue with a 15-day deadline, how much scrutiny is it going to get?

There is not much to get excited about here. It does not cut back the number of H-1B workers. It does not raise their wage. This action will not even affect the overall rate of H-1B processing. However, those who used premium processing in the past will have to wait longer.

As I said previously, this action portends much greater change. Ask yourself, who likely came up with this idea? Some commentators are attributing this change to the satanic President Donald J. Trump's crazed "anti-immigrant ideology."

The reality here is that such a mundane change like this is unlikely to have come from the White House. Instead, it is likely a change put forth by career employees who are familiar with how the visa process operates.

If you speak to career folks in DHS and USCIS you find that the past eight years have been miserable. They have suffered under incompetent and unethical management. The suspension of premium processing suggests to me that the troops in USCIS and DHS are coming out of their hiding places and are telling the higher ups where the flaws in the system lie.

The true signal coming from this change is that the people working in DHS and USCIS are going to start effecting change on their own, without prodding from the White House.