U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is set to begin premium processing of H-1B petitions that are subject to the congressional cap of 65,000 for fiscal year 2017 on May 12. USCIS petition processing includes those seeking exemptions for individuals with a U.S. master’s degree or higher.
In its announcement about the premium processing, the citizenship and immigration agency explained it provides premium processing of the petitions for some employment-based petitions. For these, USCIS guarantees a processing time of 15 calendar days.
H-1B petitions that aren’t subject to the cap and petitions for any other visa classification go to a 15-day processing period for the premium processing service that begins on the date the request is received by USCIS offices. However, in cases where H-1B visa petitions are subject to the cap, including cap-exempt petitions where petitioners hold an advanced degree, the 15-day processing period begins on May 12. The begin date is firm and is independent of the date on the Form I-797 receipt notice, which shows premium processing fee payment.
In a March 16 release, USCIS announced the intention to temporarily adjust the premium processing practice. The adjustment is “due to the historic premium processing receipt levels, combined with the possibility that the H-1B cap will be met in the first 5 business days of the filing season,” according to the release.
In the two weeks after the resumption of premium processing for the H-1B cap-subject petitions, USCIS won’t use pre-paid mailers in sending out final premium processing notices and use regular mail instead, according to an April 20 release.
“USCIS will be doing this due to resource limitations as we work to process all premium processing petitions in a timely manner,” according to a After the two week period, we will resume sending out final notices in the pre-paid mailers provided by petitioners.
USCIS encourages H-1B applicants to stay up to date on the topic by subscribing to the H-1B Cap Season e-mail updates, available on the H-1B FY2017 Cap Season Web page.
USCIS received more than 236,000 H-1B petitions during the filing period, which concluded in less than 10 days.