The USCIS announced today that it is extending its ban on premium processing on certain H-1B petitions. Premium Processing allows an employer to seek an adjudication of a visa petition within 15 days upon payment of an additional filing fee, currently $1,225 (increasing to $1,410 on October 1, 2018). Employers should review their current and upcoming H-1B visa needs to determine how the ban will impact their matters, so they can plan accordingly.
To be specific, USCIS estimated earlier this year it would reinstate Premium Processing for H-1B cap cases in September 2018 (in roughly two weeks from now). The suspension of Premium Processing for Fiscal Year 2019 H-1B Cap Petitions is now expected to be extended through at least February 19, 2019. USCIS expects this suspension will help reduce the processing time for H-1Bs by allowing it to process long-pending petitions. In addition, USCIS states that the temporary suspension will allow them to be more responsive to petitions with time-sensitive start dates, as well as to prioritize adjudication of H-1B extension of status cases that are nearing their 240-day work authorization limit dates.
This announcement from USCIS states that the Service will continue to accept Premium Processing for H-1B Petitions for which the service is presently available, and return filing fees for requests that are not met within the 15-calendar-day processing period, so long as the Premium Processing request arrives on or before September 10, 2018.
***Please note that Premium Processing remains unavailable for H-1B Petitions subject to the annual H-1B cap.
Also, Premium Processing remains available for H-1B petitions filed by qualifying institutions currently exempt from the annual H-1B cap, such as certain museums, hospitals, universities and research institutions.
There’s still time to upgrade a pending H-1B Petition (if it becomes subject to the Premium Processing suspension). If you would like to learn more about Premium Processing or have any questions about where your Petition falls given the soon-to-be-expanded suspension, please feel free to contact us.