On Tuesday, March 20, 2018, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that it will temporarily suspend premium processing for Fiscal Year 2019 H-1B cap petitions starting April 2, 2018, the same date that USCIS will begin accepting H-1B petitions subject to the cap. This limitation includes all FY 2019 cap-subject petitions, including petitions seeking an exemption for individuals with a U.S. master’s degree or higher. USCIS has stated that it expects this suspension to last until Sept. 10, 2018, and that it will continue to accept premium processing requests for H-1B petitions that are not subject to the FY 2019 cap during this suspension period.

Until this cap-H-1B suspension is lifted, USCIS will reject any Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing Service, filed with an FY 2019 cap-subject H-1B petition. If a petitioner submits one combined check for the fees for Form I-907 and Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, USCIS will reject both forms. Petitioners may convert their cap-subject petitions for premium processing by filing Form I-907 with the appropriate filing fee when the suspension is lifted.

While premium processing is suspended, a petitioner may still submit a request to expedite an FY 2019 cap-subject H-1B petition if it meets the usual USCIS expedite criteria, which include severe financial loss; emergency situation (e.g., grave illness); humanitarian reasons; a nonprofit petitioner’s request in furtherance of U.S. cultural or social interests; USCIS error; or a compelling USCIS interest. Expedite requests are highly scrutinized.

USCIS has stated that this temporary suspension will help reduce overall H-1B processing times, enable the agency to process long-pending petitions, and prioritize the adjudication of H-1B extension of status cases that are nearing the end of the 240 days of employment authorization granted to beneficiaries of timely filed extension petitions after the I-94 expiration date.