U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that as of Monday, April 3, 2017, it will not accept Premium Processing requests for H-1B visa petitions for a temporary period expected to last up to six (6) months. This applies to all H-1B visa petitions, including extensions, amendments, cap-exempt and new employment petitions, such as those to be submitted in the FY18 Bachelor’s and Master’s Caps. USCIS has indicated that the suspension is required to eliminate the backlog on long-pending H-1B visa petitions. Starting on April 3, 2017, USCIS will reject any H-1B visa petition that is filed with a Form I-907 and one (1) combined check for the I-129 filing fees and the I-907 filing fee. (more…)
On December 23, 2016, the USCIS posted a large number of new form versions with effective dates of December 23, 2016, to its website and indicated that no other versions of the forms would be accepted. Numerous stakeholders, companies, immigration attorneys, professional organizations and advocacy groups contacted the USCIS to demand a grace period where prior form versions could be submitted since no notice of the updates were given. On December 29, 2016, the USCIS announced that it would accept prior versions of the recently updated forms until February 21, 2017. The only exception to this grace period is the Form N-400, the application for naturalization, which the USCIS announced on December 13, 2016.
As part of the forms update, the USCIS issued a new Form I-129S. The new I-129S requires employers who file an L-1 extension of stay or a change of status for an employee based on an approved blanket L petition to use both the individual L1 application Form I-129 and to also submit the I-129S blanket. Previously, all L-1 petition extensions or change of status only required the one individual form, I-129. The filing fees for both forms, when both forms are required, remain unclear at this time.
In addition to the new forms, the USCIS fee changes that were announced in October 2016 went into effect on December 23, 2016. The fee changes saw an increase in the filing fees for nearly all immigrant and nonimmigrant categories. Some of the new filing fees are: I-129: $460, I-539: $370, I-140: $700, I-130: $535, and I-485: $1,225.