Citing a need to reduce overall processing times, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) begins suspension of premium processing of H-1B petitions on April 3 in a temporary move that could last up to six months. The suspension means USCIS won’t accept filings for forms requesting the H-1B nonimmigrant classification through Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing Service for a Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker.
The upcoming suspension applies to all H-1B petitions filed on or after April 3, 2017, the date when FY18 cap-subject H-1B petitions can. This the suspension will apply to all petitions filed for the FY18 H-1B regular cap and master’s advanced degree cap exemption (the “master’s cap”). The suspension also applies to petitions that may be cap-exempt. Additionally, the suspension applies as well to those petitions that may be cap-exempt.
“While premium processing is suspended, we will reject any Form I-907 filed with an H-1B petition,” according to the USCIS release. “If the petitioner submits one combined check for both the Form I-907 and Form I-129 H-1B fees, we will have to reject both forms.”
USCIS will continue premium processing of Form I-129 H-1B petitions in cases where the petitioner properly filed an associated Form I-907 before April 3, 2017. USCIS will refund the premium processing fee under both these conditions:
- Form I-907 filing for an H-1B petition before April 3, 2017, and
- USCIS takes no adjudicative action on the case within the 15-calendar-day processing period
The suspension doesn’t apply to other eligible nonimmigrant classifications filed on Form I-129. Additionally, the agency still allows submission requests for the expedition of H-1B petitions for those meet the criteria on the Expedite Criteria web page.
“It is the petitioner’s responsibility to demonstrate that they meet at least one of the expedite criteria, and we encourage petitioners to submit documentary evidence to support their expedite request,” according to USCIS.
USCIS reviews request for expeditions on a case-by-case basis. The agency grants the expeditions “at the discretion of office leadership.”
The agency projects the suspension, which could last until October, will reduce overall H-1B processing times through two benefits:
- Address the backlog of long-pending petitions stemming from a significant surge in premium processing requests over the past few years
- Prioritize the adjudication of H-1B extension of status cases nearing the 240-day mark
USCIS notes officials will notify the public before resuming premium processing for H-1B petitions.