United States Immigration and Customs Services has announced that, starting in April, it will no longer offer its 15-day “premium processing” program for applicants of H-1B visas.
H-1B visas allow employers to temporarily hire non-U.S. born workers to take highly skilled positions at U.S. companies. These visas are frequently used at large technology companies to bring top engineering talent to their U.S. offices. The U.S. only allows 85,000 people per year to enter the country on H-1B visas.
The announcement means that new H-1B visa applications could take months to process. With premium processing, U.S. immigration services offered a 15-day expedited service for a $1,225 filing fee, but come April that will no longer be an option.
“I’ve seen these applications take anywhere from 8-12 months,” said Tahmina Watson, a Seattle-based immigration lawyer, in an interview. “Even though the advertised processing time is four months, I’ve never seen anything take four months.”
This will not only affect new workers coming to the country on the H-1B program, but those who already hold an H-1B visa and are changing jobs within the country too, says Watson, like if an engineer who had an H-1B visa with Microsoft is taking a new position at Google, for example.
The suspension of the premium processing may last up to six months, according to the USICS website.
USICS says that it’s suspending premium processing in order to catch up on “long-pending petitions” — which the agency says has been difficult because of the large number of H-1B applications and requests for premium processing it receives.
Google, Apple, Amazon, Facebook and many other tech companies condemned Trump’s immigration and refugee ban that was issued by executive order in January, which blocked people from seven primarily Muslim countries from entering the U.S.
Dozens of companies, mostly in technology, signed onto a brief that claimed the ban inflicted “substantial harm on U.S. companies.”
Although that executive order was suspended after review from a panel of federal judges, Trump says his administration is working on a new version of the immigration ban.
This article originally appeared on Recode.net.