Due to long processing times, since 2014 companies have been forced to pay $2.4 billion in “premium processing” fees to ensure their business immigration cases are decided within a reasonable time. Critics say U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has no incentive to process cases faster because the more time it takes, the greater the revenue the agency receives in additional premium processing fees.
To understand premium processing, imagine you sat down at a restaurant and saw a large asterisk next to the price of an entrée that costs $20.
“What does this asterisk mean?” you asked.
“It means the meal costs $20 but you have to sit here for 9 hours before I bring it out so you can eat it,” said the waiter.
“Nine hours? That’s outrageous! Isn’t there any alternative?”
“Yes,” said the waiter. “If you pay for ‘premium processing,’ you can get the meal after about 15 minutes but it will cost you an additional $1,440.”
“What if I want to eat at a restaurant and I don’t want to wait 9 hours or pay an extra $1,440?”
“You don’t have a choice – we’re the only restaurant in America.”
That sums up what businesses and attorneys say is their experience when filing immigration applications with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. USCIS has a monopoly on its service and takes a significant length of time to make decisions on cases.
At the California Service Center, USCIS takes 9 to 12 months to decide a case for an H-1B petition. That is too long for most businesses, particularly if an H-1B visa holder needs to work at a new location or change jobs.
The “solution” from USCIS is for employers to pay a premium processing fee of $1,440 to have the case decided within 15 calendar days (which will change to a longer 15 “business” days under a proposed fee rule). There is a caveat: the clock “stops” on the 15 days if USCIS issues a Request for Evidence (RFE). USCIS issued an RFE in nearly half of the completed cases for H-1B petitions in the first quarter of FY 2020. That adds one or two months to the time for employers, depending on the request.
By Stuart Anderson for FORBES
Read Full Article HERE forbes.com/…/critics-charge-slow-immigration-processing-nets-uscis-billions-in-fees