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H-1B Processing Delays

By: Angelita Chavez | February 26, 2016

Immigration lawyers’ clients are well aware of the lengthening processing times for several product lines at the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services service centers.  However, most pronounced is the extraordinary expansion of processing times for H-1B extensions at both the California and Vermont Service Centers.  AILA (American Immigration Lawyers Association) has brought concerns regarding the delays in processing to the attention of USCIS in several different forums over the past several months.

USCIS’s response is simple, “We are aware of the issue and are looking into it.”

Despite being asked, USCIS has failed to provide an adequate explanation as to how or why the problem developed or to describe how USCIS plans to resolve the backlog. This provides little comfort to clients who are impacted by the backlog because it is the same answer USCIS has consistently provided for several months.

Travel plans, renewal of driver’s licenses, the expiration of the 240—day regulatory extension of employment authorization, all become serious daily problems that require more and more resources to resolve.  If clients can afford it, they are forced to file a request for premium processing and pay the additional fee.  USCIS has acknowledged an increase in premium processing requests.  These premium requests are often for petitions that have been pending 6 months or longer.

As we approach April 1st, and the deluge of new H-1B petitions that may exceed by two times or more the 85,000 annual H-1B CAP, AILA members asked USCIS to describe its plans for handling the new cases.  We will keep you updated if we hear anything besides the fact that they are aware of the issue and they are working on it.

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