United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced yesterday that as of April 3, 2017, premium processing for all H-1B petitions will be temporarily suspended. The suspension may last up to six months. At this time, it does not affect other eligible nonimmigrant classifications filed on Form I-129.
The premium processing option, which is traditionally available for certain categories including the H-1B, allows for a faster processing of a case (a response will typically be received within 15 days of filing) in exchange for a $1,225 fee. Without premium processing, standard processing time for an H-1B petition normally takes between 3 to 6 months.
According to USCIS, due to a high volume of H-1B petitions and a large surge in premium processing requests, the temporary suspension will help reduce overall H-1B processing times and prioritize the adjudication of H-1B extension cases.
USCIS will continue to premium process H-1B petitions if a request is filed before April 3, 2017. After April 3, 2017, however, all premium processing requests will be rejected. The suspension of H-1B premium processing will significantly affect the 2018 fiscal year cap-subject H-1B filings, since April 3 is the first day that H-1B petitions may be filed this year.
An expedited processing option is available, however, they will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis if any of the following applies: severe financial loss; emergency situation; humanitarian reasons; nonprofit organization whose request is in furtherance of the cultural and social interests of the United States; Department of Defense or national interest reasons; USCIS error; or compelling interest of USCIS.
We recommend that all petitioners carefully review and evaluate their foreign national’s situation to prepare for a longer wait period. The Immigration Team at Barclay Damon is experienced with the H-1B and will be glad to assist with any strategic planning to try and meet specific timing requirements.