On September 18, 2017, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that it would resume the premium processing service for fiscal year 2018 H-1B cap cases. The H-1B cap refers to the 85,000 H-1B1 visas that were selected during the first week of April for October 1st effective dates. Premium processing refers to a service in which an additional $1,225 is paid to the USCIS so that a decision on a petition is made in 15 calendar days.
Premium processing was temporarily suspended for an initial six-month period for all H-1B cases on April 3, 2017. USCIS previously resumed premium processing for H-1B cases involving physicians that were filed under the Conrad 30 waiver program, and for H-1B petitions that were not subject to the statutory cap because the H-1B employee would be working for a cap-exempt organization.
Employers should look closely at their current H-1B FY 2018 cases that are pending. A request for a premium processing upgrade can be filed on its own or in combination with a response to a request for evidence. This news is particularly important if an employee’s employment authorization received through Optional Practical Training (OPT) is about to expire. It is important to note that premium processing has not been resumed for all other H-1B cases such as extensions and amendments.