Concerns raised about suspension of H1B premium processing

March 28, 2017
Sen. Elizabeth Warren
317 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
Rep. Michael Capuano
1414 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
Rep. Stephen Lynch
2268 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
Rep. Joseph Kennedy, III
434 Cannon House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
Rep. James McGovern
438 Cannon House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
Rep. Niki Tsongas
1714 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
Sen. Edward Markey
255 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
Rep. Katherine Clark
1415 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
Rep. William Keating
2351 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
Rep. Seth Moulton
1408 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
Rep. Richard Neal
341 Cannon House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515



Dear Senator Warren, Senator Markey, and Members of the Massachusetts Congressional Delegation:

We write to express our grave concerns about the recent U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announcement that it will temporarily suspend applications for expedited processing of H-1B visas as of April 3, 2017 for up to six months. Respectfully, we urge that you seek an exemption for our institutions, which are adversely affected by this suspension.

As you know, H-1B visa holders are an essential part of our collective mission to maintain the highest standards of excellence in medical training, research and teaching. We depend on expedited visa processing to achieve our goals due to the unique timing of the academic calendar, which begins in the middle of the calendar year, and which dictates timing of academic and research appointments as well as admissions and residencies. While we appreciate and applaud the goal of reducing the application backlog, this arbitrary announcement, with no advance notice, will have negative consequences for our teaching, research and patient care missions.

The signatories below currently employ hundreds of physicians, researchers and teaching faculty who hold H-1B visas. These individuals have rare skills that drive innovation both in the labs and at the bedside, and bring unique expertise to the classroom. They represent the most talented graduates who are selected to train in our rigorous and highly competitive clinical training programs or to participate in advanced clinical training programs as fellows.

Teaching hospitals are vital to the education of the next generation of physicians. Many of our physician trainees were outside the United States at the time of the March 17 physician match, or in the United States, but on another immigration status. The premium processing program is critical to enable clinical trainees to begin their training programs at the start of the medical academic year on July 1, thus avoiding gaps in patient coverage. The suspension of premium processing places these essential, clinical trainees in the regular USCIS six- to nine-month processing queue, creating delays for many months in their training on which the nation relies to supply the doctors necessary to treat and assure the safety of patients at the Commonwealth’s world-class facilities.

A similar scenario awaits highly-skilled researchers who are critical to the fundamental research funded by NIH, other scientific agencies and industry. More than 50 percent of graduates from our country’s institutions of higher education with advanced degrees in science and technology are foreign students. Attracting global talent to our research enterprise, where all discoveries are in the public domain, is essential to maintain a leadership role in research and innovation. Massachusetts is a hub for emerging life sciences and technology firms at least in part because of its access to graduates of the most demanding and exciting science programs in the world. If the United States loses the best and the brightest graduates of these programs, they will easily find employment in other countries that recognize the fundamental contributions they can make to science and industry.

One of the negative impacts of recent immigration orders has been unprecedented uncertainty for medical students, researchers, resident physicians, faculty and other scholars and students. Suspending expedited H-1B visa processing exacerbated this uncertainty and its attendant anxiety. We sincerely hope that you will be able to mitigate the harm already caused by the suspension and secure the necessary assurances that teaching hospitals and universities are exempt from this harmful action.

We are deeply appreciative of your assistance.




Sandra L. Fenwick
President and CEO, Boston Children’s Hospital

Kathleen E. Walsh
President and CEO Boston Medical Center

Robert A. Brown
President, Boston University

Drew Gilpin Faust
President, Harvard University

John Fernandez
President and CEO, Mass Eye and Ear

David F. Torchiana, MD
President and CEO, Partners HealthCare

Michael Wagner, MD, FACP
President and CEO, Tufts Medical Center and Floating Hospital for Children

Anthony P. Monaco
President, Tufts University

Martin T. Meehan
President, University of Massachusetts

Kumble R. Subbaswamy
Chancellor, University of Massachusetts, Amherst

J. Keith Motley,
Chancellor, University of Massachusetts, Boston

Peyton R. Helm
Chancellor, University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth

Michael F. Collins, MD, FACP
Chancellor, University of Massachusetts Medical School

Eric W. Dickson, MD, MHCM, FACEP
President and CEO, University of Massachusetts Memorial Health Care, Inc.