Mar 21, 2018
USCIS Suspends Premium Processing for H-1B Cap Petitions
Joshua H. Rolf
For the second year in a row, and less than two weeks before April 1, USCIS announced it will suspend Premium Processing for all Petitions subject to the Fiscal Year 2019 H-1B Cap. The suspension applies equally to H-1B Petitions filed under the Regular Cap, and the U.S. Master’s Cap. However, and unlike last year, the suspension does not apply to H-1B Extensions, Portability Petitions, or H-1B employers that are statutorily exempt from the Cap, such as universities and affiliated medical facilities. As such, the suspension will only affect H-1B Petitions submitted between April 2 – 6, 2018 for October 1, 2018 start dates, whether requesting a change of status for an employee already in the United States, or Consular Processing for an employee residing abroad.
After the first week of April USCIS will once again conduct the randomized lottery to select the 20,000 Petitions in the U.S. Master’s Cap, and then the 65,000 Petitions under the Regular Cap. We still expect to be able to confirm selection in the H-1B Cap Lottery by late-April or early-May. However, instead of being able to secure a decision within fifteen days of receipt, these Petitions will be required to wait 3-5 months, if not longer, for adjudication. All requests for Premium Processing will be rejected, and if a filing utilizes one check that includes the H-1B and Premium Processing filing fees, USCIS will reject the entire Petition.
According to USCIS, the suspension for H-1B Cap Petitions will last until at least September 10, 2018, thereby enabling the Service to improve processing times for other, longer-pending cases. In the meantime, USCIS will consider Expedited Processing requests for H-1B Cap Petitions, on a case-by-case basis. Once reopened, Fiscal Year 2019 H-1B Cap Petitions that are still pending will be permitted to upgrade to Premium Processing.
We will continue to monitor the availability of Premium Processing for H-1B Cap Petitions. If you have any questions regarding if and how USCIS’ announcement affects your pending or to-be-filed H-1B Petition, please do not hesitate to contact our office.