U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) has once again announced that starting April 2 2018 premium processing for new, cap-subject H-1B visa petitions will be temporarily suspended. With premium processing, employers can pay an optional USCIS filing fee to guarantee a response on their petition within 15 days. This temporary suspension is expected to last until Sept. 10, 2018. While H-1B premium processing is suspended, petitioners will not be able request premium processing for new, cap-subject H-1B visa cases.
This suspension of premium processing (similar to the one last year) applies only to new H-1B petitions filed, generally by for-profit companies that are subject to the 85,000 annual H-1B visa cap. Meaning, this will apply to all petitions filed for the FY19 H-1B regular cap and master’s advanced degree cap exemption (the “master’s cap”) and any of these petitions filed with a request for premium processing will be rejected.
The premium processing suspension will not, however, apply to petitions that may be cap-exempt (i.e. H-1B workers who will work for or at a university or affiliated nonprofit or research institutes), nor will it apply to H-1B extension or change of employer petitions. This temporary suspension of premium processing does NOT apply to other eligible nonimmigrant classifications filed on Form I-129, either.
Even though premium processing is temporarily suspended, employers may still submit a request to expedite an H-1B petition if they meet the criteria on the Expedite Criteria webpage. The reason for the temporary suspension will allow USCIS to reduce overall H-1B processing times.