August 28, 2018

USCIS Extends and Expands H-1B Premium Processing Suspension

On August 28, 2018 USCIS announced that it will extend the suspension of premium processing for all FY2019 Cap-Subject H-1B petitions. USCIS will also expand the suspension to include most H-1B petitions filed at the California Service Center and all H-1B petitions filed at the Vermont Service Center on or after September 11, 2018. This suspension of premium processing service is slated to last until at least February 19, 2019. Premium processing is a service by which USCIS normally guarantees a response within 15 calendar days, with an additional $1225 filing fee.

The following cases will still be eligible for premium processing after September 11, 2018:

  • Cap-exempt petitions filed at the California Service Center because the employer is cap exempt, or the beneficiary will be working “at” a cap-exempt location.
  • Petitions filed at the Nebraska Service Center requesting a “Continuation of previously approved employment without change with the same employer.” In other words, H-1B extensions with the same employer.
  • All other categories of petitions filed on form I-129 that are otherwise eligible for Premium Processing, for example TN, E-2, L-1, O-1, etc.

The following H-1B petitions will continue to be ineligible for Premium Processing:

  • Cap-subject petitions that were selected in the lottery, requesting an October 1, 2018 start date.

The following H-1B petitions will not be eligible for Premium Processing beginning on September 11, 2018 until at least February 19, 2019.

  • Petitions for a change of H-1B employer.
  • Petitions requesting amendment to a previously approved H-1B.

As an alternative to Premium Processing, petitioners may still request “expedited processing” if they meet the criteria outlined here. Petitioners with a pending H-1B petition who require a quick decision should consider filing a Premium Processing upgrade request before September 11, 2018. Any cap-subject H-1B petition beneficiary who is relying on the “cap-gap” provisions for work authorization should note that “cap-gap” work authorization will end on October 1, 2018, unless and until the cap-subject petition has been approved. Please contact our office if you have any questions regarding H-1B Premium Processing.

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