USCIS will temporarily suspend premium processing for all H-1B petitions
Starting April 3, 2017, USCIS will temporarily suspend premium processing for all H-1B petitions. This suspension may last up to 6 months. While H-1B premium processing is suspended, petitioners will not be able to file Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing Service for a Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker which requests the H-1B nonimmigrant classification. USCIS will notify the public before resuming premium processing for H-1B petitions.
Who is affected
The temporary suspension applies to all H-1B petitions filed on or after April 3, 2017. Since FY18 cap-subject H-1B petitions cannot be filed before April 3, 2017, this suspension will apply to all petitions filed for the FY18 H-1B regular cap and master’s advanced degree cap exemption (the “master’s cap”). The suspension also applies to petitions that may be cap-exempt.
While premium processing is suspended, USCIS will reject any Form I-907 filed with an H-1B petition. If the petitioner submits one combined check for both the Form I-907 and Form I-129 H-1B fees, USCIS will have to reject both forms.
USCIS will continue to premium process Form I-129 H-1B petitions if the petitioner properly filed an associated Form I-907 before April 3, 2017. Therefore, USCIS will refund the premium processing fee if:
- The petitioner filed the Form I-907 for an H-1B petition before April 3, 2017, and
- USCIS did not take adjudicative action on the case within the 15-calendar-day processing period.
This temporary suspension of premium processing does not apply to other eligible nonimmigrant classifications filed on Form I-129.
Requesting expedited processing
While premium processing is suspended, petitioners may submit a request to expedite an H-1B petition if they meet the criteria on USCIS’ 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 will review all expedite requests on a case-by-case basis and requests are granted at the discretion of the office leadership.
Why USCIS is temporarily suspending premium processing for H-1B petitions
According to USCIS, this temporary suspension will help USCIS reduce overall H-1B processing times. By temporarily suspending premium processing, USCIS advises it 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.
Updated handbook for employers now available
USCIS published the updated M-274, Handbook for Employers: Guidance for Completing Form I-9. The Handbook for Employers provides employers with detailed guidance for completing Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification. This version, dated January 22, 2017, replaces the previous version. It includes the November 14, 2016 revisions to Form I-9.
The updated Handbook for Employers:
- Details how to properly complete the revised Form I-9
- Captures policy and regulatory changes since 2013
- Is written in plain language, so that it is easier to understand
- Includes a streamlined questions and answers section
- Features updated tables, new figures, and more current sample documents
- Explains guidance regarding automatic extensions for certain Employment Authorization Documents
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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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