On March 3, 2017, USCIS announced a temporary suspension of premium processing impacting all H-1B petitions received by USCIS beginning April 3, 2017. The suspension will be in place for up to six months, supposedly to permit the agency to prioritize pending H-1B cases that are outside of their normal processing time and to reduce the backlog of pending H-1B cases filed in 2016. The following case types will be impacted:
- All H-1B petitions filed under the fiscal year 2018 H-1B cap;
- All H-1B cap-exempt petitions; and
- All non-cap H-1B extensions, all change of employer H-1B petitions, and all amended H-1B petitions.
The USCIS premium processing suspension does not impact a petitioner or beneficiary’s ability to request “expedited handling” of any kind of H-1B petition. Such requests will be granted on a case-by-case discretionary basis, if the petitioner and/or beneficiary can establish severe financial loss to company or person, an emergency situation, a humanitarian situation, or governmental interest, amongst other criteria.
Please note that the premium processing program suspension applies only to H-1B filings. Employers may continue to use the premium processing service for, among others, L-1, O-1, TN, and I-140 immigrant petition filings.