On August 28, 2018, United States Citizenship And Immigration Service (USCIS) announced that they are further extending the temporary suspension of premium processing for H-1B petitions until February 19, 2019. The suspension will affect all H-1B petitioners that are subject to the 65,000 regular cap, and 20,000 master cap. During this time, USCIS will not accept applications for premium processing.
Premium Processing Service allows a petitioner to request expedited processing for H-1Bs, using Form I-907. If request for premium processing has been filed properly, USCIS guarantees 15 calendar day processing of the corresponding application. USCIS will refund the premium processing service fee if the application has not been processed within the 15 day period but the application will continue to receive premium processing.
Although most H-1B petitions are subjected to this suspension, two types of H-1B petitions will not be affected. First, certain cap-exempt petitions that are filed exclusively at the California Service Center will not be affected. A petition may be cap-exempt if the petitioner (that is the employer) is an institution of higher education; nonprofit organizations that are related to an institution of higher education; and a nonprofit or government research organization. Second, petitions that are filed exclusively at the Nebraska Service Center will not be affected. These petitions are from an employer that is requesting a “continuation of previously approved employment without change.”
Requests to expedite your H-1B petition will still be reviewed and processed if you meet the expedite criteria. The review will be on a case by case basis. In determining if a petition meets the expedite criteria, USCIS will consider financial loss to the company, emergency situations, humanitarian reasons, etc., when reviewing these requests.
Key Things to Note:
- If a petitioner submits one combined check for the Form I-907 (request for premium filing) and Form I‑129 (H-1B petition) fees, both forms will be rejected.
- If you are simply filing for a continuation of employment with the same employer and with the same job duties, you may still request premium processing service
- Cap-gap extension ends on September 30. This means that international students hoping to switch from F1 status to H1B status may be negatively affected by this suspension. (see my previous blog).