Starting April 3, 2017, USCIS will temporarily suspend premium processing of H-1B filings, including all FY 2018 H-1B cap filings, cap-exempt cases, changes of employer, extensions, and amendments. The suspension is expected to last up to 6 months. The premium processing filing option is expected to remain for eligible petitions filed on Form I-129 and for qualified I-140 petitions.
The suspension is being put in place due to the significant increase in the volume of petitions and premium processing requests in the past few years. In addition, USCIS is looking to prioritize an excess of long-pending H-1B petitions.
In certain situations, USCIS will consider employers’ request for faster processing if a case satisfies USCIS’s expedite criteria—in the case of emergencies, in cases where the employer or foreign national will suffer severe financial loss, in humanitarian situations, and a few more rare circumstances.
With the FY 2018 H-1B cap season in full swing, the suspension means that H-1B cap petitions will not eligible for premium processing. The following are how the suspension will impact H- 1B petitions:
- Any Form I-907 will be rejected
- If the Form I-907 fee is submitted in a combined check with the Form I-129 H-1B fee, both form will be rejected
- Any Form I-129 H-1B petition filed with a Form I-907 before April 3, 2017 will be filed through premium processing
- If the petition was filed for premium processing before April 3, 2017 and was not adjudicated within the 15-calendar-day premium processing period, the premium processing fee will be refunded.
Employers and petitioners are encouraged to work with their business immigration specialist to prioritize urgent non-cap H-1B cases, so that the petitions can be filed via premium processing as soon as possible. It is important to note that USCIS will not guarantee that they will honor the premium processing request, even if it is filed before April 3, 2017.
Last but not least, foreign nationals with a pending change of status may have to delay their travel outside of the U.S. until their H-1B cap petition has been approved; otherwise, their pending change of status will otherwise be considered abandoned. Foreign nationals who travel outside of the U.S. before their change of status is approved will have to go through extra steps to be granted H-1B status on October 1.
With the sudden suspension of the H-1B premium processing request right before the FY 2018 H-1B cap filing season is over, many foreign nationals and employers are struggling with concerns. It is recommended that you contact a business immigration specialist to discuss your options.
Please stay tuned for more information regarding immigration issues.
Edited by Winnie Kan, Director of Marketing and Public Relations.
Please note that this article is not legal advice. If you have any questions or concerns regarding your immigration case, your best option is always to contact an immigration lawyer to discuss your situation, because immigration cases are all individual and vary case-by-case. If you have any additional questions, please contact attorney Barbara Wong, Esq. at firstname.lastname@example.org or (408) 329-9184 ext. 120.