March 23, 2018
Less than two weeks from the beginning of the H-1B petition filing period, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) suspended premium processing "for all FY 2019 cap-subject petitions, including petitions seeking an exemption for individuals with a U.S. master’s degree or higher." The suspension, which only applies to applications from for-profit companies, is slated to last until September 10. "This temporary suspension will help us reduce overall H-1B processing times," USCIS said. "By temporarily suspending premium processing, we will be able to process long-pending petitions, which we have currently been unable to process due to the high volume of incoming petitions and the significant surge in premium processing requests over the past few years, and prioritize adjudication of H-1B extension of status cases that are nearing the 240 day mark." USCIS suspended premium processing last year as well, reinstating it in October 2017. The Trump administration has made various moves to place pressure on the H-1B program despite its self-evident value to and popularity with American businesses. In 2017, the H-1B application approval rate dipped to 59 percent, well below the previous record low of 74 percent in 2010. The administration may attempt to further clamp down on the visa by way of various proposals outlined in the 2018 regulatory agenda.