Employers are first and foremost going to have the toughest time adapting, Samaratunga said.
Let's say an employer extends a job offer, alongside an H-1B visa sponsorship, to a worker, ahead of the April 1 rush. With the fast track option, they could know very soon if their petition was likely to be accepted, and could start planning the onboarding accordingly. If it was likely to be denied, they could begin looking for a new candidate.
But now, they'll have to wait in line, like everyone else. The average wait time is three to six months, Mehta said. So, the employer might not know until September whether their employee will be authorized to work.
The suspension could especially be a sticking point for tech companies that are hoping to get to the cutting edge faster than their competitors. The technology community is in the midst of a talent war, poaching each other's workers and setting up relationships with universities to snare top engineers.
Companies like IBM, Amazon, Microsoft, Google, and Apple have been among the top recipients of H-1B visas in past years, New York Times data analysis shows, aside from a massive swath of visas issued to consulting firms that are known to outsource.
Alphabet chairman Eric Schmidt said last year that H-1B visa reform was a top policy priority for tech, noting that Google has brilliant engineers who are languishing in condos in Canada waiting to get to work.
The new delay does mean a little more uncertainty for some workers. Particularly, workers who are on the verge of losing their current visas, and were hoping to have a quick insight into whether they should sign a new lease or pack their bags.
Also affected are H-1B visa applicants that are not subject to the usual cap — especially those working at universities, Khanna said. And a small group of foreign nationals may have to take a break from working while they wait for a visa change to take hold, said Mehta.
Then there are practical inconveniences, like getting one's driver's license renewed or traveling while immigration status is pending, Siskend wrote.
Given all the uncertainty, Samaratunga said, some employers might be more reticint to hire foreign workers — although if they had another choice, hiring a domestic worker is almost always the more practical choice either way, she said.
But there are plenty of loopholes to push through the most urgent cases, Khanna said. Severe financial loss to a company, emergencies, non-profit and humanitarian causes can all still merit requests expedited H-1B visas, Khanna said. And students or H-1B workers changing jobs have special protections to cover the gap while they wait for their new visa to kick in.
Mehta suggested that workers hoping to change their visa status to another type apply to do so by the end of the month to avoid being affected by the suspension.