Starting April 3, 2017, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will temporarily suspend premium processing for all H-1B petitions, a statement issued by the USCIS stated. 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. We will notify the public before resuming premium processing for H-1B petitions.
The premium processing service allows an applicant or his potential employer to pay $1,225 to receive a response to his petition within 15 days. If USCIS has not responded within 15 days, the fee is refunded, though the application still receives expedited processing, according to a bulletin issued by the agency March 3. H-1B visas are used by U.S. employers to temporarily employ foreign workers, most often from India, in specialty occupations.
“This temporary suspension will help us to reduce overall H-1B processing times. By temporarily suspending premium processing, we will be able to process long-pending petitions, which we have 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,” said the agency in a bulletin.
USCIS has said the temporary suspension of premium processing could last as long as six months. The agency has said it will reject any form I-907 – request for premium processing – filed with an H-1B petition. If a check is issued to cover both applications, USCIS noted it will have to reject the H-1B application as well.
“Since FY18 cap-subject H-1B petitions cannot be filed before April 3, 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’),” noted USCIS, adding that the suspension also applies to petitions that may be cap-exempt.
H-1B petitioners can still expedite their applications if they meet one of the following criteria: a severe financial loss to company or person; an emergency situation; humanitarian reasons; a non-profit organization whose work benefits the cultural and social interests of the U.S., certain Defense Department situations; or USCIS errors. Such requests will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis. The temporary suspension does not apply to other non-immigrant classifications.