On Monday, April 2, 2018, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) began accepting H-1B petitions subject to the Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 cap. On March 20, 2018, USCIS announced that they will temporarily suspend premium processing for all FY 2019 cap-subject petitions, including petitions seeking an exemption for individuals with a U.S. master’s degree or higher. This suspension is expected to last until Sept. 10, 2018. During this time, USCIS will continue to accept premium processing requests for H-1B petitions that are not subject to the FY 2019 cap and will notify the public before resuming premium processing for cap-subject H-1B petitions or making any other premium processing updates.
During this temporary suspension, USCIS will reject any Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing Service, filed with an FY 2019 cap-subject H-1B petition. If a petitioner submits one combined check for the fees for Form I-907 and Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, USCIS will reject both forms. When USCIS resumes premium processing, petitioners may file a Form I-907 for FY 2019 cap-subject H-1B petitions that remain pending.
In its announcement, USCIS explained that temporarily suspending premium processing for all FY 2019 cap-subject petitions, including petitions seeking an exemption for individuals with a U.S. master’s degree or higher, will help USCIS reduce overall H-1B processing times. USCIS will be able to:
- Process long-pending petitions, which USCIS has currently been unable to process due to the high volume of incoming petitions and the significant surge in premium processing requests over the past few years; and
- Prioritize adjudication of H-1B extension of status cases that are nearing the 240 day mark.
While premium processing is suspended, a petitioner may submit a request to expedite an FY 2019 cap-subject H-1B petition if it meets the criteria on the Expedite Criteria webpage. It is the petitioner’s responsibility to demonstrate that they meet at least one of the expedite criteria, and USCIS encourages petitioners to submit documentary evidence to support their expedite request. USCIS reviews all expedite requests on a case-by-case basis and will grant requests at the discretion of USCIS office leadership.
To date, USCIS has not suspended Premium Processing for H-1B petitions that are not subject to the FY2019 Annual Cap. These include:
- Petitions where the petitioner is an institution of higher education;
- Petitions where the petitioner is a nonprofit related to or affiliated with an institution of higher education;
- Petitions where the petitioner is a nonprofit research or governmental research organization;
- Requests for extensions of stay for current H-1B workers;
- Amendments to H-1B petitions requesting a change in the terms of employment for current H-1B workers; and
- Change of employer petitions for individuals already in H-1B status.
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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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