USCIS recently announced that it is extending the previously announced temporary suspension of premium processing service for cap-subject H-1B petitions starting from Sept. 11, 2018. USCIS also informed that it will be expanding this temporary suspension to include certain additional H-1B petitions. According to the USCIS, these suspensions are expected to continue till Feb. 19, 2019.
The temporary suspension will also be applicable to all the H-1B petitions filed at the Vermont and California Service Centers (excluding cap-exempt filings as noted below).
USCIS had previously announced suspension of premium processing service for the fiscal year 2019 cap-subject H-1B petitions and was originally slated to last until Sept. 10, 2018, but that suspension is being extended through an estimated date of Feb. 19, 2019.
USCIS will continue to process premium processing of Form I-129 H-1B petitions that are not currently suspended if the petitioner has properly filed an associated Form I-907 before Sept. 11, 2018. USCIS will refund the premium processing fee if:
The petitioner has filed the Form I-907 for an H-1B petition before Sept. 11, 2018; and
USCIS did not take an adjudicative action on the case within the 15-calendar-day processing period.
USCIS clearly stated that the temporary suspension of premium processing service does not apply to the below mentioned H-1b petitions:
Cap-exempt petitions that are filed exclusively at the California Service Center because the employer is cap exempt or because the beneficiary will be employed at a qualifying cap exempt institution, entity, or organization; or
Those petitions filed exclusively at the Nebraska Service Center by an employer requesting a “Continuation of previously approved employment without change with the same employer” (Box b. on Part 2, Question 2, Page 2 of the current Form I-129) with a concurrent request to:
Notify the office in Part 4 so each beneficiary can obtain a visa or be admitted. (Box on Part 2, Question 4, Page 2 of the current Form I-129); or
Extend the stay of each beneficiary because the beneficiary now holds this status. (Box c. on Part 2, Question 4, Page 2 of the current Form I-129).
USCIS also mentioned that this temporary suspension of premium processing service does not apply to any other non-immigrant classifications filed on Form I-129.
USCIS stated that the temporary suspension will help the agency to reduce overall H-1B processing times by allowing time to:
Process long-pending petitions, which they have been unable to process due to the high volume of incoming petitions and premium processing requests over the past few months;
Be responsive to petitions with time-sensitive start dates; and
Prioritize adjudication of H-1B extension of status cases that are nearing the 240-day mark.
Employers/petitioners and applicants should note that although the premium processing service is suspended temporarily, petitioners may submit a request to expedite an H-1B petition if they meet the requirements of Expedite Criteria as mentioned by USCIS. The petitioner must demonstrate that they meet at least one of the expedite criteria, and petitioners should be able to submit documentary evidence to support their expedite request.
It should be noted that USCIS reviews all expedite requests on a case-by-case basis and requests are granted at the discretion of the office leadership.
USCIS informed that it will notify the public via uscis.gov before it resumes premium processing for the above-mentioned visa petitions. Please visit www.emandilaw.com for latest news and updates on immigration.