USCIS to Temporarily Suspend FY 2019 H-1B Cap Petitions

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) begins accepting H-1B petitions subject to the Fiscal Year 2019 cap beginning on April 2, temporarily suspending premium processing for all FY 2019 cap-subject petitions. The suspension, which is expected to last until September 10, includes petitions seeking an exemption for individuals with a U.S. master’s degree or higher.

During the period, USCIS continues accepting premium processing requests for those H-1B petitions that aren’t subject to the FY 2019 cap. The agency also plans to provide public notification before resuming premium processing on the cap-subject H-1B petitions or before making any other updates to premium processing.

Along with the temporary suspension, according to an agency release, USCIS officials “will reject any Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing Service, filed with a FY 2019 cap-subject H-1B petition.” In cases where a petitioner submits a single check with a combined amount to cover fee for Form I-907 and Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, “we will reject both forms.” Petitioners can file these forms for remaining H-1B pending petitions for FY 2019 when the agency resumes premium processing.

Agency officials undertake the temporary suspension as a means to reduce overall H-1B processing times. With the premium processing suspension, the agency expects to:

Process those petitions classified as “long pending,” delayed because of the high volume of incoming petitions and a “significant surge in premium processing requests over the past few years”

Prioritize the adjudication of those H-1B extension of status cases near the 240-day mark

During the period of suspension for premium processing, petitioners request expedition of an FY 2019 cap-subject H-1B petition in cases that meet certain criteria. “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. We review all expedite requests on a case-by-case basis and will grant requests at the discretion of USCIS office leadership.”