U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) recently announced the immediate and temporary suspension of premium processing service for all Form I-129 and I-140 petitions until further notice due to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).
Effective March 20, 2020, USCIS will not accept any new requests for premium processing. USCIS will process any petition with a previously accepted Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing Service, in accordance with the premium processing service criteria. However, USCIS will not be able to send notices using pre-paid envelopes. USCIS will only send batch-printed notices. Petitioners who have already filed a Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, or Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Workers, using the premium processing service and who receive no agency action on their case within the 15-calendar-day period will receive a refund, consistent with 8 CFR 103.7(e). USCIS will notify the public with a confirmed date for resuming premium processing.
USCIS will reject the I-907 and return the $1,440 filing fee for all petitions requesting premium processing that were mailed before March 20 but not yet accepted.
This temporary suspension includes petitions filed for the following categories:
I-129: E-1, E-2, H-1B, H-2B, H-3, L-1A, L-1B, LZ, O-1, O-2, P-1, P-1S, P-2, P-2S, P-3, P-3S, Q-1, R-1, TN-1 and TN-2.
I-140: EB-1, EB-2 and EB-3.
This includes new premium processing requests for all H-1B petitions, including H-1B cap-subject petitions for fiscal year 2021, petitions from previous fiscal years, and all H-1B petitions that are exempt from the cap.
Petitioners filing FY 2021 cap-subject H-1B petitions will not be able to request premium processing when USCIS begins accepting cap-subject petitions on April 1. Until premium processing resumes for FY 2021 cap-subject H-1B petitions, USCIS will reject any Form I-907 concurrently filed with a cap-subject H-1B Form I-129.
This recent news alert expands the previous news alert on March 16, 2020 which pertained only to the temporary suspension of Premium Process for Petitioners filing FY 2021 cap-subject H-1B petitions effective April 1. In that previous news alert, USCIS stated that it would resume premium processing in a two-phased approach during the FY 2021 cap season. The first phase was to include FY 2021 cap-subject H-1B petitions, including those eligible for the advanced degree exemption and requesting a change of status from F-1 nonimmigrant status. The second phase was to include all other FY 2021 cap-subject petitions.
Specifically, under the March 16th news alert, USCIS, stated it would resume premium processing for FY 2021 cap-subject H-1B petitions requesting a change of status from F-1 nonimmigrant status no later than May 27, 2020, and would notify the public before premium processing resumes for these petitions. Per USCIS, the earliest date that USCIS stated it would resume premium processing for all other FY 2021 cap-subject H-1B petitions was June 29, 2020. It further stated that Petitioners filing FY 2021 H-1B cap-subject petitions would be eligible to upgrade to premium processing by filing Form I-907 once premium processing resumes, as applicable, and that USCIS would notify the public with a confirmed date for resuming premium processing for FY 2021 H-1B cap-subject petitions.
In light of the March 20, 2020 USCIS notification that Premium Processing on all Form I-129 and I-140 petitions is suspended until further notice due to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), employers that have filed H-1B Cap subject petitions should confer with counsel for continuing updates.
If you have any questions, please contact Gunster’s Immigration practice.
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This publication is for general information only. It is not legal advice, and legal counsel should be contacted before any action is taken that might be influenced by this publication.
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