On March 20, 2018, just 13 days before H-1B Cap cases begin arriving; USCIS suspended Premium Processing for H-1B Cap cases. Starting April 2, 2018, USCIS will temporarily suspend premium processing for Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 H-1B Cap petitions. This is a departure from last year, when Premium Processing was suspended for ALL H-1B petitions. This suspension is expected to last until September 10, 2018.
H-1B premium processing is suspended for FY2019 Cap cases only. Although, petitioners will not be able to file Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing Service for H-1B Cap cases and cannot expect these petitions to be adjudicated in under 15 days, H-1B extension and amendments that are not subject to the FY 2019 Cap can continue to enjoy Premium Processing Service.
Who will be affected:
The temporary suspension applies to all Cap-subject H-1B petitions filed on or after April 2, 2018. The suspension does not apply to petitions that may be cap-exempt.
Will this impact the H-1B cap lottery selection?
As of now, we have no indication that the process and timetable for selection of H-1B cap petitions for processing and notifying petitioners will be any different this year. Last year, USCIS announced that the selection process had been completed as of April 17, 2017. Of course, additional announcements could be forthcoming.
Does this suspension apply to other categories?
This temporary suspension of premium processing does not apply to other eligible nonimmigrant classifications filed on Form I-129. Nor does it apply to H-1B petitions that are not Cap-subject.
Is there any way to have my application expedited?
While premium processing is suspended, petitioners can submit a request to expedite an H-1B petition if they meet the criteria. The petitioner must demonstrate that they meet at least one of the expedite criteria outlined below. Our experience however is that USCIS does not tend to review expedite requests favorably in the majority of cases. Given the number of potential expedite requests in response to the suspension of premium processing, this is likely to remain true.
USCIS may expedite a petition or application if it meets one or more of the following criteria:
- Severe financial loss to company or person;
- Emergency situation;
- Humanitarian reasons;
- Nonprofit organization whose request is in furtherance of the cultural and social interests of the United States;
- Department of Defense or national interest situation (These particular expedite requests must come from an official U.S. government entity and state that delay will be detrimental to the government.);
- USCIS error; or
- Compelling interest of USCIS.
Reasons for suspension:
USCIS claims this temporary suspension will help them to reduce overall H-1B processing times for pending H-1B petitions. It has been a challenge for USCIS to address long pending petitions that they have been unable to process due to the high volume of incoming petitions and a significant surge in premium processing requests over the past years.