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Special Alert: USCIS to Suspend Premium Processing for All H-1B Petitions Starting April 3, 2017

March 8, 2017

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced today that starting April 3, 2017, USCIS will temporarily suspend premium processing for all H-1B petitions, including Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 cap-subject H-1B petitions. USCIS has advised that this suspension may last up to 6 months. This temporary suspension of premium processing by USCIS does not apply to other nonimmigrant classifications, such as L-1s, O-1s, TNs, etc.

What is Premium Processing Service? 

Premium processing service provides expedited processing for certain employment-based petitions and applications filed through USCIS. Specifically, USCIS guarantees 15 calendar day processing for those petitioners or applicants who choose to use this service. The filing fee for premium processing is $1,225.  

Who is impacted? 

The temporary suspension applies to all H-1B petitions filed with USCIS on or after April 3, 2017. As FY 2018 H-1B cap cases cannot be filed with USCIS before April 3, 2017, this suspension will apply to all H-1B petitions filed for the FY 2018 H-1B cap.

Impact on Employees applying for FY2018 H-1B CAP:

Employees who are filing their FY 2018 cap-subject H-1B cap petition as a “change of status” who were planning on applying via the premium processing service in anticipation of obtaining an expedited decision from USCIS in order to travel abroad this summer may need to reassess their ability to travel abroad and the impact on their pending application. 

Impact on Employees nearing their H-1B expiration date:

Employees whose H-1B status is nearing expiration and who wish to file their application under the premium processing service should plan to do so before April 3, 2017 to ensure that the premium processing request is accepted by USCIS.

EIG will work directly with foreign nationals and their employers to advise on the proper action to be taken on a case by case basis. 

Requesting Expedited Processing

Note that while premium processing is temporarily suspended, Petitioners may, on a case-by-case basis, submit a request to expedite an H-1B petition provided that the request meets USCIS’ Expedite Criteria. USCIS may expedite an application or petition if it meets one or more of the following: emergency situation, humanitarian reason, national interest situation, or severe financial loss to the company or to a person, among others. All expedite requests are reviewed on a case-by-case basis by USCIS and requests are granted at the discretion of USCIS office leadership.

EIG will continue to monitor this situation and will provide further updates as they become available.