U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced that, starting on April 3, 2017, USCIS will temporarily suspend premium processing for all H-1B visa petitions. The suspension could last up to six months.

Practical Effect of Suspension

Typically, a petitioning employer filing an H-1B visa petition on behalf of a potential employee is able to file a Form I-907 (Request for Premium Processing Service) and pay an additional USCIS filing fee of $1,225 to request that the accompanying Form I-129 (Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker) be processed on an expedited basis. If premium processing is requested, USCIS is required to process (i.e., approve, deny or request additional evidence) the visa petition within 15 calendar days. If premium processing is not requested, USCIS usually takes between three and six months to process the visa petition.

The practical effect of the suspension, which was announced on March 3, 2017, is that, for the upcoming H-1B filing deadline of April 1, 2017, USCIS will not accept any premium processing requests. Because the filing deadline of April 1, 2017, falls on a Saturday, the next business day is April 3, 2017. As such, USCIS will apply the ban to all H-1B visa petitions filed for the upcoming 2018 fiscal year.

USCIS advises that if a petition is filed requesting premium processing service, it will reject the Form I-907 request for premium processing as long as the premium processing check is paid separately. If the petitioning employer's submissions is accompanied by a request for premium processing and a check combining the Form I-129 and Form I-907 fees, USCIS will reject both the Form I-129 and the Form I-907, which will prevent the H-1B visa petition submission from being processed.

The premium processing suspension applies only to H-1B visa petitions at this time.