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.
- 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.
- 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 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.
We do not know, USCIS just said that they are suspending premium processing until further notice. We need to wait for USCIS update.
Well, if they have not accepted and issued receipt, they may not processing premium and they may return the fee related to 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.
Reference – USCIS News Alert