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H1B Premium Processing Suspended for H1B FY 2021, Transfers, Extensions

As most of you know  H1B Visa Registration Process & Lottery  for fiscal year(FY) 2021 started on March 1st and ended on March 20th. The New Online H1B Registration Tool  was used by employers to submit H1B registrations. As like in previous years, they have given guidance on the premium processing  for the H1B Visa FY 2021 season. Also, with COVID-19 situation, they have given guidance on processing of other categories such as H1B transfers, extensions, amendments, etc. We will look at all of these and continue to update this article as new updates come in.

Latest Update : Read USCIS Opens H1B, Other Premium Processing from June 1st, 2020 in Phases.

If you are new to the process, you should read H1B Processing Time – Regular vs Premium to understand the difference between both. Also, if you are not sure about quotas and cap, read What is H1B Cap? Regular vs. Masters Quota Cap

Below are the various updates by USCIS related to H1B FY 2021 premium processing, H1B Transfers, extensions, amendments.

H1B Premium Processing 2021 Timeline

USCIS initially said that they will temporarily suspend premium processing for FY 2021 petitions, just like in previous FY 2020 Fiscal year and follow similar two phase approach in terms of opening up the premium processing.  But, later they changed the guidance and said the dates of the two phases are not valid and all of the H1B Processing is suspended until further notice. Usually, USCIS suspends premium processing to cater to the high number of filings as we expect based on H1B Visa 2021 Lottery Predictions

  • H1B Premium Processing Suspended for All Cap Subject Petitions: Initially, all H1B 2021 Cap subject petitions that will be filed on April 1st, 2020 cannot request premium processing. If someone files the premium processing form I-907 along with the H1B package, they will reject the same.
  • Phase I – H1B Premium Processing Open for FY 2021 Masters Cap, COS Petitions :  USCIS will open premium processing for US Masters quota petitions that were filed as Change of Status (COS) petitions (read H1B Consular Processing vs COS to know difference) no later than May 27th, 2020. USCIS updated that with COVID-19 situation, they are suspending it until further notice. They will inform public in a news release when the premium processing resumes for these categories of filings.  So, it may open up early as well. Last year, they opened up premium processing for this categories on May 20th.  You need to select the appropriate items in the form I-129 as listed below, when you submit the I-129 form to be able to use the premium processing during the phase I.
    • COS Option in I-129 form : When you submit the I-129 form, you need the select the option ‘b’ in I-129 form, which is under Part 2, item number 4. Option b says “Change of status and extend the stay…”. See below screenshot on how it looks. Select option B in Question 4 of form I-129 for COS option
    • F-1 Status in I-129 Form : In I-129 form, you need select the dropdown that says ‘F1 – STUDENT – ACADEMIC’ in option called “Current Nonimmigrant Status” in I-129 form. This option is under Part 3, item number 5. See below screenshot on how it looks. Select F-1 Status in Item 5 of Part 3 in I-129 Form
  • Phase II – H1B Premium Processing Open for all FY 2021 Cap Subject Petitions : All the remaining H1B Cap subject petitions filed in FY 2021 may avail the premium processing option from June 29th, 2020. They say that June 29th is the earliest date, meaning it can be dragged further, if something changes. USCIS announced that they are suspending premium processing until further notice due to COVID-19 situation, so we do not know this date now.

Below is the press release from USCIS indicating the suspension of the H1B Premium Processing. You can read general COVID-19 Updates USCIS

H1B Premium Processing and I-140 Suspended until Further Notice COVDI-19

H1B Premium Processing for Cap Exempt – Extensions, Transfers

Premium processing for cap exempt H1B petitions that are filed as Extensions, Amendments or H1B Transfers is also not available due to the Coronavirus situation. Initially, USCIS did not suspend this, but on March 20th, they updated indicating that premium processing is suspended for all kinds of H1B petitions from March 20th, 2020. They also provided guidance indicating that they will return the H1B premium processing fee, if they do not adjudicate before the 15 calendar days. They also indicated that they will use batch processed notices, instead of pre-paid mailers.

You can also watch the below video that summarizes the premium processing for FY 2021 (old).

H1B Premium Processing Availability Chart for FY 2021 Season, Cap Exempt

If we were to put in a simple table that outlines premium processing options for all kinds of petitions, it looks like in below table

Update : The below dates in table are not valid anymore as USCIS updated on March 20th that Premium Processing is suspended for all petitions.

H1B Petition Type Premium Processing Status
All FY 2021 Cap Subject Petitions Suspended ( Not available)
FY 2021 Cap Subject US Masters Cap & COS Suspended ( Not available)
All FY 2021 Cap Subject Petitions Suspended ( Not available)
H1B Transfers Suspended ( Not available)
H1B Extensions Suspended ( Not available)
H1B Amendments Suspended ( Not available)
H1B Cap Exempt Filings like non-profits, etc. Suspended ( Not available)

Did you file H1B for FY 2021 Season ? Track your case anonymous using below tracker.  

[prompt type=”left” title=”Track your H1B Registration, Case” message=” Anonymously Track your H1B Registration, Case – Share and Get updated from Community.” button_text=”H1B 2021 Registration, Case Tracker” href=”https://redbus2us.com/trackers/h1b-visa-tracker/”]

In general, with the Coronavirus situation and National Emergency declaration, USCIS Processing times could be dragged further for regular processing as staff could be on leave or impacted with the situation.  

How long is H1B Premium Processing Suspended with COVID-19 ?

We do not know, USCIS just said that they are suspending premium processing until further notice. We need to wait for USCIS update.

I have sent H1B before March 20th, will my petition be in Premium Processing ?

Well, if they have not accepted and issued receipt, they may not processing premium and they may return the fee related to premium processing.

What is H1B processing time without Premium Processing ?

This is hard to say. Due to limited operations and work from home option for USCIS workers, there would be delays. In general, there is no SLA for regular processing of H1B petitions.

What do you think of the premium processing for FY 2021 Season ? Your thoughts ? Share in comments.

ReferenceUSCIS News Alert


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  1. Hi,

    I’ve got my Visa Stamping done under NIE in OCt’21. I have also got the promotion meanwhile, from the technology specific role to managerial role.
    On the one side, i am being suggested to immediately travel (till the time role change gets reflected in system), with the same role as on Visa, but on the other side being suggested to get the amendment file first, get the filing acknowledgement and than fly.

    Need your help in the form of your views, with rationale please.


  2. Hi,

    I have received my H1B approval – I797B -notice of action, I am in India and had applied from India, never been to the USA before. The next step I believe is to apply using D160 and then Visa interview. Am I missing something?

    Also, is my application eligible for Expedite? I am into IT .

  3. I was in process of moving to a new Company with the H1b Transfer in process. My LCA was approved on Mar 26 and filing done a few days later. Now given that the premium processing has been temporarily halted, is it safe to assume that the approval can taken any where between 2- 8 months?
    I did try to do some digging on the USCIS processing times, but couldnt get the page to work.


  4. What about H-1b for physicians?

    I will start my new job as an attending physician by July 1st.

    I’ll apply for H-1b soon.

    Will they process it faster due to COVID since I’m a physician or won’t matter?

    They issued a notice to the coming residents from abroad that they’ll process their visas and allow them in.

    • Mahmood,
      There are cap exempt options, if you are going to be joining a non-profit research organization. Yes, they have asked for physicians planning to arrive in US to apply, check the US State Department website. Reach out to consulate too.

      • How does the Dept State handle H1Bs for physicians? I thought they were only in charge of the J1 Visa?

        not to hijack OPs thread. But what is the time frame for “expedited processing” in reference to physicians

  5. Hi,
    My H1b transfer was filled on 17th March 2020 in premium and email received from Texas service center on 21st March has I-907 received date as 19th March. Today is 15th day but not received any update, will my case is still in premium.

    • Amit,
      it is hard to say…they have suspended it…they may do it, if they have bandwidth. If you do not hear back, then they will refund your fee and process in regular.

  6. My H1B is expiring May 1, 2020 and my company is yet to file my extension. If they are unable to file it on time, can I still stay in the country?

  7. Hi Kumar,

    I had visa interview in Feb this year and it went into administrative processing due to confusion in project details. I was hoping that, it should get resolved in 2 months . But considering this COVID19 Epidamic, what do say? What are the chances of getting my H1B Visa?

    • 4th timer,
      It is hard to say, they are not processing 221g cases now, most of the consulates globally are shut…it is not about your chances anymore, it is about the bigger issues…

  8. Hello – Since international travel is banned and won’t open up any time soon given that corona-virus situation in US is on the rise.

    H1B kicks in on Oct 1st, will USCIS be considering off shore cases ? i mean people sitting in India and china even if they get selected won’t be able to travel to US in October and start working.

    This should have some impact – may be they will only consider cases for those who are physically present in US this year ?

  9. Hi Kumar

    Did anyone here or any of your readers receive the results of lottery ? I didn’t hear any as of today (24th Mar 2020).

  10. I used my H1b visa only for 6 months, my h1b comes under cap exempt as 5.6 years are remaining on my current H1b visa. I have one offer in process from US employer just want to confirm if they can file my visa in Premium process or not as some notification is coming from USISC as they have suspended premium process?

  11. Hello,

    Case Scenario :

    Extension to be received by USCIS : March 24,2020

    I94 Valid till : April 13th,2020

    Question : Based on the current developing situations on COVID-19, If i don’t receive the receipt notice before April 13th,2020 , Can I still work or do I have to wait till the receipt is received? Could you please advise

    Thank you for help and inputs.

    • As long as they receive it, even if you do not receive the receipt notice, it should be fine. They look at the date they received it and if you were in status on that day.

  12. Hi,

    Looks like USCIS suspended premium processing for all I129 and I140 applications .

    What if an applicant is nearing to complete his 240 day period and still waiting for USCIS decision?

    Is USCIS considering to extend the 240 day period at this time?

    Thanks in advance!

  13. Premium Processing has been suspended even for the extensions effective March 20,2020.


  14. My h1b was filed last year and I received rfe on it, they are responding to rfe with premium processing this week, is premium processing eligible for that?

    • Spujari,
      Yes, you can apply for premium processing when you respond to RFE. This does not fall under FY 2021 petition as it was already applied last year.


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