U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recently announced the reinstatement of premium processing service for H-1B nonimmigrant petitions, with an exception. Premium processing permits an employer to pay an extra fee (currently $1410) to receive expedited processing for certain employment-based petitions. If requested, USCIS guarantees 15 calendar day processing or it will refund the premium processing service fee.On March 11, 2019, USCIS announced it would resume accepting requests for premium processing for all H-1B petitions, pending and newly filed, as of March 12th. Previously, this service was only available for limited categories of H-1B petitions which did not include H-1B transfers (change of employer) petitions. Without premium processing, USCIS can take 3 to 14 months to perform the initial adjudication of an H-1B petition.

Most recently, USCIS announced it will permit premium processing Service for FY 2020 H-1B cap-subject petitions in a two-phases:

  1. The first phase will only include cap-subject H-1B petitions, filed on or after April 1, 2019, requesting a change of status (e.g., F-1 student to H-1B). These petitions can concurrently include a premium processing request (Form I-907).
  2. The second phase will include all other FY 2020 cap-subject petitions but will not begin until at least June 2019.

Cap-subject petitioners not requesting a change of status may not submit their premium processing request concurrently with their H-1B petition. In its announcement, USCIS emphasized it will not begin premium processing for the change of status petitions immediately. It will commence premium processing Service for these petitions no later than May 20, 2019, and will notify the public accordingly.