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Update and revisions as of March 6, 2017 at 12:35 pm:
Trump's new March 6 Muslim entry ban is not much different from the initial failed one, according to the latest reports, with the exception of leaving out Iraq and making clear that permanent residents from the six banned Muslim countries are not affected. Whether these essentially cosmetic changes will induce the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals and other federal courts to change their minds about blocking the previous, seven Muslim country ban remains to be seen. See:
My revised previous comment follows:
Amid all the furor and panic caused by Trump's botched initial attempt to ban visitors and immigrants from seven almost 99 percent Muslim countries from entering the US, added to the fear and confusion caused by his shedding the fig leaf of pretending that his plans for mass deportation of millions of Latino and other immigrants of color would be limited to people with criminal records, it is understandable that the latest USCIS announcement about temporary suspension of Premium Processing for H-1B petitions, which guarantees action on these petitions within 15 days upon payment of an exorbitant extra filing fee ($1,225), is widely perceived as a move to put this visa on the Trump/Bannon/Sessions/Kobach chopping block, along with other programs which have led to large scale non-European legal immigration over the past 50 years, something that is anathema to Trump's above top advisors and his white nationalist/Alt-Right supporters.
But any assumption that the six month suspension of Premium Processing has any connection with the above larger, and very troubling, agenda (for immigrants and their supporters) would be completely mistaken.
Yes, Trump's so far failed attempt to ban almost 200 million people from seven countries because of their religion, based on Trumped-up "National Security" pretexts which neither the federal courts nor very many national security experts have taken very seriously, and his open season on deportation for potentially millions of Latino and other non-white immigrants, are alarming and disturbing for those who hope that America will continue as a land of freedom and equality for all people.
But if one actually reads the explanation for the Premium Processing suspension appearing on the USCIS website, rather than relying on over-hyped media reports written, for the most part, by pundits who do not show much experience with or understanding of the H-1B visa, it will become obvious that the Premium Processing suspension has nothing to do with any larger agenda directed against either immigration in general, or H-1B visas in particular.
For the full text of the USCIS Premium Processing temporary suspension announcement, which applies only to H-1B petitions, not those for any other categories in which Premium Processing is available, and is not effective until April 3, 2017, the beginning of the filing period for the limited number of cap subject H-1B visas for the coming fiscal year 2018 beginning on October 1, 2017, see:
This is not to say that such a larger agenda, or agendas, do not exist in the top levels of the Trump administration. There are very good reasons to believe that they do exist, and that they are a real threat to the democratic, egalitarian, color-blind (in principle) America that all of us know and are used to. This will be discussed further in my forthcoming comment.
But the Premium Processing suspension has nothing to do with any such larger agenda. It is, at least taken at face value, a plan to make the H-1B system work better by devoting more resources and staff to processing the great majority of H-1B petitions which go through the currently seriously backlogged regular processing system, rather then the Premium Processing one.
It is important to be sensitive to and aware of the larger implications in many of Donald Trump's immigration proposals and actions. Many of these, as I will discuss in my forthcoming comment, are consistent with the goal set forth by top administration advisors such Stephen Bannon, and the embattled Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, of taking America back toward the infamous "Nordics"-only "national origins" immigration law of 1924.
Indeed, Trump's ban on immigration from seven almost entirely Muslim countries (now reduced to six, see above update) can certainly be regarded as a major step in that direction.
But that does not by any stretch of the imagination mean that USCIS's attempt to redirect its limited resources in order to deal more effectively with the anticipated deluge of new, cap-subject H-1B petitions during the crucial processing time period between the initial submission date on April 3, 2017 and the beginning of the new fiscal year on October 1, 2017, has anything to do with this larger agenda.
There is no indication that there is any such connection. __________________________
Roger Algase is a New York immigration lawyer and a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School. He has been helping mainly skilled and professional immigrants from diverse parts of the world obtain work visas and green cards for more than 35 years.
Roger's practice is concentrated in H-1B specialty occupation, O-1 extraordinary ability and J-1 trainee work visas, and in green cards through Labor Certification (PERM) and though opposite sex and same sex marriage. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org
Updated 03-06-2017 at 11:39 AM by ImmigrationLawBlogs