US Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced that starting April 2, 2018, the first day that H-1B Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 cap cases can be received, USCIS will temporarily suspend premium processing for all cap-subject petitions, including master’s cap exemption cases. This suspension, likely to frustrate many immigration practitioners and petitioners, is expected to last until September 10, 2018. Last year, USCIS temporarily suspended premium processing for all cap and non-cap subject H-1B petitions and resumed it in stages over a six month time period.
USCIS states that the temporary suspension will help reduce overall H-1B processing times as well as allow them to do the following:
- Process “long-pending petitions,” which have not been adjudicated yet because of “high volume of incoming petitions and the significant surge” in cases filed via premium processing over the past few years; and
- Adjudicate H-1B extension of status cases nearing the 240-day mark.
During the premium processing suspension, USCIS will continue to accept premium processing requests for H-1B petitions not subject to the cap. If the petitioner submits a combined check that includes both fees for Form I-907 and a cap-subject Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, USCIS will reject both forms. When they resume premium processing for cap cases, petitioners may convert pending FY 2019 cap-subject H-1B petitions to premium processing.
During the premium processing suspension, a petitioner may submit a request to expedite an FY 2019 cap-subject H-1B petition if it meets the expedite criteria. USCIS recommends that petitioners submit documentary evidence that they meet at least one of the expedite criteria. Requests are reviewed on a case-by-case basis and approved at the discretion of USCIS office leadership. USCIS will provide updates when premium processing is resumed for cap-subject petitions.