Some companies left out after federal authorities last month resumed the "premium processing" option for certain H-1B applications will now receive the service.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration in April suspended premium processing, which costs $1,410 for processing within 15 days, citing a backlog and a surge in applications in recent years. The suspension applied to applications for H-1Bs subject to the annual cap of 85,000 new visas, which includes 20,000 visas for use by holders of a master's degree or higher from a U.S. school. On Jan. 28, the suspension was partly lifted and the agency resumed premium processing for applications filed in April 2018 for the fiscal year 2019 visa lottery.
Now, the service has been resumed for H-1B applications filed on or before Dec. 21, 2018, the agency announced last week. Still out in the cold are applications filed on Dec. 22, 2018, or afterward.
The agency initially said the suspension would last till Sept. 10, 2018, but then extended it, saying it would last through most of this month.
Silicon Valley technology companies rely heavily on the H-1B, pushing to increase the number of visas issued, arguing they need them for securing the world's top talent. Critics point to reported abuses, and contend that tech firms and outsourcers use the H-1B to replace Americans with cheaper foreign labor. The H-1B program has become a target for the administration of President Donald Trump, which has boosted scrutiny of applications and imposed new policies, most recently by changing the lottery to favor applications for more highly educated graduates of U.S. schools.