Effective July 1, 2016, the Nebraska Service Center (NSC) will begin accepting certain Form I-129 H-1B and H-1B1 (Chile/Singapore Free Trade) extension petitions if the petitioner is requesting an extension with the same employer (on the Form I-129, the box is listed as: “Continuation of previously approved employment without change with the same employer”) with one of the following requested actions:
- Notify the office in Part 4 so the beneficiary can obtain a visa or be admitted;
- Extend the stay of the beneficiary because the beneficiary now holds this status; or
- Extend the status of a nonimmigrant classification based on a free trade agreement.
The NSC will also accept the following forms filed concurrently with these I-129 extensions:
- H-4 Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status, and
- Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, for certain H-4 nonimmigrants.
Those filing a standalone Form I-539 and/or Form I-765 for H-4 nonimmigrants should refer to the direct filing addresses for Form I-539 and Form I-765.
Although not currently listed on the Direct Filing Addresses for Form I-129—we imagine it will be updated closer to the July 1 date—the NSC addresses are:
For US Postal Mail Service:
Nebraska Service Center
PO Box 87129
Lincoln, NE 68501-7129
For Fed-Ex, UPS, etc:
Nebraska Service Center
850 ‘S’ Street
Lincoln, NE 68508
In their press release, USCIS does not comment specifically on whether premium processing will be available for these petitions, though it is possible that it will be, as NSC does have a Premium Processing Unit that adjudicates I-140 petitions.
USCIS states that the California Service Center (CSC) and the Vermont Service Center (VSC) “may” continue to accept I-129 H-1B and H-1B1 extension petitions during the transition period, which ends August 31, 2016. With this linguistic uncertainty, it may be best to submit the relevant H-1B and H-1B1 extension petitions to the NSC to avoid any possible processing delays. While USCIS has not commented specifically on why this change is made, generally when a service center begins accepting new petitions or applications the intent is to free up other service centers and decrease processing times. The Vermont Service Center is currently processing H-1B extensions received August 31, 2015, which translates to approximately a very significant ten-month delay.
Petitioners should continue to file all other H-1B/H-1B1 petitions with the CSC and the VSC based on the instructions on the Direct Filing Addresses for Form I-129. Regardless of work locations, petitioners should always send the following types of petitions to the CSC:
- H-1B petitions where the employer is statutorily exempt from the cap; or
- E-1 and E-2, petitions for extension of stay or change of status only.
Moreover, regardless of work locations, petitioners should always send the following types of petitions to the VSC:
- E-3, Petitions for extension of stay or change of status only;
- Free Trade Nonimmigrants (H-1B1 aliens from Chile/Singapore and TN aliens from Canada or Mexico), petitions for extension of stay or change of status only;
- P-1, Major League Sports Organizations.