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USCIS To Suspend All Premium Processing for H-1B Visa Petitions

March 6, 2017Alerts Immigration Alert

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) has announced that it will temporarily suspend premium processing for all H-1B petitions starting on April 3, 2017, until further notice. This suspension is expected to last up to 6 months.

During this suspension, 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 has indicated that it 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, which is the date FY18 cap-subject H-1B petition filings begin, therefore the suspension applies to all petitions filed for the FY18 H-1B regular cap and master’s advanced degree cap exemption (the “master’s cap”) as well as to petitions that may be cap-exempt.

During the time that premium processing is suspended, USCIS will reject any Form I-907 filed with an H-1B petition. If the one combined check for both the Form I-907 and Form I-129 H-1B fees is included, both forms (i.e. the entire filing) will be rejected.

USCIS will continue to premium process H-1B petitions properly filed before April 3, 2017; however, USCIS will refund the premium processing fee if:

  1. The petitioner filed the Form I-907 for an H-1B petition before April 3, 2017, and

  2. 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 the Expedite Criteria webpage. It is the petitioner’s responsibility to demonstrate that they meet at least one of the expedite criteria, and we encourage petitioners to submit documentary evidence to support their expedite request. USCIS will review all expedite requests on a case-by-case basis and requests will be granted at the discretion of USCIS leadership.

Why USCIS Is Temporarily Suspending Premium Processing for H-1B Petitions

According to USCIS, the temporary suspension will help it reduce overall H-1B processing times by enabling it to:

  • Process long-pending petitions, which the agency has 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.

Alka Bahal is a Partner and the Co-Chair of the Corporate Immigration Practice of Fox Rothschild LLP. Alka is resident in Fox Rothschild's Morristown, NJ, office and practices throughout the United States and at Consulates worldwide. You can reach Alka at (973) 994-7800, or [email protected]