While unusual, the government has suspended expedited or premium processing for H-1B cases from time to time. In years past, in response to the filing of Cap cases, the start of the 15-day adjudication clock was delayed. There also have been suspensions in other situations when the USCIS anticipated increased caseloads, such as when EADs first became available for certain H-1B spouses.
On April 3, 2017, the USCIS suspended premium processing, but on June 26, 2017, it reinstated premium processing for H petitions for physicians eligible for Conrad 30 and other interested government waivers. On July 24, 2017, premium processing was reinstated for Cap Exempt employers such as universities. Full reinstatement may still be a few months away. Meanwhile, it is possible for employers to request faster processing based on certain USCIS criteria.
The USCIS might be convinced to expedite an H-1B or other petition when premium processing is not available based on one or more of the following strict criteria:
- Severe financial loss to a company or person
- Emergency situation (such as a grave illness)
- Humanitarian reasons (such as a war in the home country)
- Nonprofit organization whose request is in furtherance of the cultural and social interests of the United States (such as a broadcasting organization promoting democratic interests abroad)
- Department of Defense or a national interest situation (these particular expedite requests must come from an official U.S. government entity and describe any delay as detrimental to the government)
- USCIS error
- Compelling interest of USCIS