Suspension of Premium Processing Extended For H-1B Petitions

USCIS announced on August 28th that it is extending the temporary suspension of premium processing for cap-subject H-1B petitions. Beginning on September 11, 2018 the temporary suspension will include certain additional H-1B petitions. These suspensions, which were originally announced to last until September 10, 2018, are expected to remain in effect until February 19, 2019. (USCIS stated that it would release an announcement when premium processing can be resumed in those cases).

USCIS stated that it will continue to accept premium processing for H-1B petitions that are not currently suspended if the petition was properly filed with the Form I-907 before September 11, 2018. USCIS also announced that it will refund the premium processing fee if the petitioner filed the Form I-907 for an H-1B petition prior to September 11, 2018 and no adjudicative actions within the 15 calendar day processing period.

H-1B Petitions for which Premium Processing is NOT available:

The temporary suspension of premium processing applies to all H-1B petitions that are filed at the Vermont and California Services Centers. (Please note that this excludes cap-exempt filings).

H-1B Petitions Exempt from Premium Processing Suspension:  

  1. Cap Exempt petitions that are filed exclusively at the California Service Center (the employer is cap exempt or the beneficiary is employed at a qualifying cap-exempt entity.
  2. Petitions filed only at the Nebraska Service Center by an employer with a request for a “Continuation of previously approved employment without change” (i.e. same employer), accompanied with a concurrent request on the Form I-129 to either notify the office so that the beneficiary will be able to obtain a visa or extend the stay of the beneficiary as the beneficiary has been granted admission.

Expedited Processing Available for Qualifying Petitioners:

During the suspension of premium processing, a petitioner may submit a request to expedite an H-1B petition if the petitioner meets the Expedite Criteria as outlined by USCIS. In order to be granted expedited processing, USCIS instructs that the petitioner prepare and submit documented evidence to support their request. USCIS advises that all requests for expedited processing are reviewed on a case by case basis and that these requests are granted at the discretion of USCIS.  Practical experience has shown that expedite requests under these criteria are given very rarely.

USCIS stated that the aim of the temporary suspension of premium processing is to shorten H-1B processing times, allow for quicker response to time sensitive petitions, and expedite the processing of H-1B extension of status cases that are the approaching the 240 day mark.  As processing times continue to increase for all immigration petitions, we hope these goals are achieved.

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