The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issued a news release on April 22, 2016, stating that the premium processing clock will start on Thursday, May 12, 2016. In other words, on May 12, 2016, USCIS will begin premium processing for cap-subject H-1B petitions.
Readers may recall that an H-1B petitioner may opt to pay an extra filing fee of $1,225 in exchange for premium or 15-calendar-day processing of an H-1B petition. Premium processing may be requested along with the filing of the initial petition, or if the employer has a receipt notice, it may “upgrade” an already pending H-1B petition to premium processing by filing a separate request.
Premium processing doesn’t guarantee a decision within 15 days. Rather, it means that action will be taken on a case within 15 days. That action may be a decision or it may be a request for evidence if the adjudicator finds something lacking in the petition. If a request for evidence is issued, then from the date when USCIS receives the reply, another 15-day processing period will begin.
Normally, the 15-calendar-day processing period begins when a petition is received. Due to USCIS’ receipt of approximately 236,000 H-1B petitions during the first five or so days of H-1B cap season, USCIS delayed the start of the 15-day period.
As stated by USCIS in its release:
For H-1B petitions that are not subject to the cap and for any other visa classification, the 15-day processing period for premium processing service begins on the date that USCIS receives the request. However, for cap-subject H-1B petitions, including advanced degree exemption petitions, the 15-day processing period set by 8 CFR 103.7(e)(2) will begin on May 12, 2016, regardless of the date on the Form I-797 receipt notice, which indicates the date that the premium processing fee is received.
Those who requested premium processing will likely receive decisions by Friday, May 27 or so.