On March 3, 2017 U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that Premium Processing for the H-1B skilled-worker visa program will be temporarily suspended. Suspension will be effective April 3, 2017 up to six (6) month period. Applicants who wish to pay the additional fee of $1,225 for a Premium Processing response within fifteen days will no longer have that option.
USCIS states that the temporary suspension applies to all H-1B petitions filed on or after April 3rd, 2017. Since Fiscal Year 2018 cap-subject H-1B petitions cannot be filed before April 3rd, 2017, the suspension will apply to all petitions filed for the Fiscal Year 2018 H-1B regular cap and master’s advanced degree cap exemption.
Until Premium Processing resumes, any Form I-907 filed with an H-1B petition subject to the 2018 Fiscal Year will be rejected. If the petitioner submits one combined check for both Form I-907 and Form I-129, the Premium Processing request and the I-129 petition, will be rejected. Premium Processing will continue for Form I-129 petitions if the petitioner filed an associated Form I-907 before April 3rd, 2017. However, if the petitioner filed the Form I-907 for an H-1B before April 3rd, 2017 and USCIS did not take adjudicative action within the 15-calendar day processing period, Premium Processing fees will be refunded.
USCIS states that the temporary suspension of Premium Processing does not apply to other eligible nonimmigrant classifications filed on Form I-129.
USCIS states the reason for Premium Processing suspension is to improve overall H-1B processing times. No additional restrictions regarding H-1B applicants have been put in place. The suspension will not affect the outcome of the annual lottery; and consistent with regulations, new H-1B holders must wait until October 1 to begin work.
Companies may experience uncertainty for Fiscal Year 2018 hiring, as Premium Processing helps in planning alternate visa options if the applicant is not selected in the lottery. Those individuals already in the U.S. in another status who seek to change status to H-1B and are subject to the cap may also be adversely affected by normal processing times, which are often between six (6) and eight (8) months. USCIS states that it may resume processing Premium Processing petitions once overall processing times have improved.
For clarification regarding the new measures, please contact our office at 856-222-0130.