Usually USCIS releases a press note indicating the acceptance of H1B Visa Applications with premium processing info, for the next fiscal year around the March time frame ( last year it was released on March 16th for FY 2017 ). Anyways, for this year, which is FY 2018, it is slightly different…they have released a press note explicitly giving guidance on Premium Processing for FY 2018 and other H1B petitions filed after April 3, 2017. Below is the summary as it impacts every H1B applicant either new or transfer.
If you are new to H1B, you may want to What is USCIS Regular vs Premium processing H1Bs
USCIS News Summary : Temporary Suspension of Premium Processing All H1B Petitions
- Suspension of Premium Processing : Starting from April 3rd, 2017 ( which is the start date for H1B Visa FY 2018 season), USCIS is temporarily suspending premium processing for all H1B visa applications up to 6 Months. USCIS will indicate to everyone, when they will resume accepting premium processing applications.
- Who all does this suspension impact : It impacts everyone who would like to file for H1B petition after April 3rd, 2017. To be more precise, below are the various types of applicants.
- All new H1B Applicants filing for the first time and subject to H1B Cap
- Masters Degree Cap Holders, OPT F1 visa Holders filing H1B for first time
- H1B Transfer applicants, who are not subject to annual H1B cap
- All the cap exempt petitions that are filed by non-profit orgs, education institutions, etc.
- What Happens if you file Premium Processing ?
- After April 3, 2017 : USCIS has indicated that they will reject any H1B Petition that includes form I-907 for H1B Premium processing that are filed after April 3rd, 2017 for FY 2018 quota. It does not matter, if the employer has filed separate checks or combined check.
- Before April 3, 2017: If you have filed for H1B Premium processing before April 3rd, 2017 typically a H1B Transfer petition, USCIS will refund your premium processing fee, if they cannot adjudicate your case within 15 calendar days.
- What all visas applications premium processing is impact ?
- This premium processing suspension applies only to H1B petitions that are filed using I-129 form. In fact, I-129 form is used to file for L1, E3, O1, etc. visa applications and it does not impact those other visa applications.
- Any Options for Expedited Processing for H1Bs?
- While the H1B premium processing is suspended, you can request for expedited processing, if you fall under the Expedite criteria by USCIS, which includes situations like : Severe loss to the company or person, Emergency situation, humanitarian reasons, etc. Check Full Expedite Criteria on USCIS.gov . You will need to submit relevent documentation supporting your emergency situation, if you need expedited processing.
- Why USCIS has suspended Premium processing :
- USCIS says that it will help them reduce overall processing times for H1B by temporarily suspending premium processing. It will help them address the cases pending for over 240 days mark, also address the high volume of incoming requests for H1B amendments, etc.
That’s the summary of press release from USCIS folks.
What’s the reality of H1B Applications Processing with USCIS ?
USCIS has a ton of backlog as they indicated, some are open for over 240 days…Also, below is the data from their system ( which may not be fully up to date, but gives some idea). You can check out H1B Visa Tracker as well to get an idea of pending applications . With these long delays, the premium processing has been used heavily, as you get the case adjudicated within 15 calendar days. This is not doing justice to the petitions that are filed in regular processing. Also, one of the reasons for the heavy influx in the H1B applications with the change in rule that employer have to file LCA and H1B amendment with USCIS, if there is a change in work location. USCIS does not have enough man power to support these large volume of premium processing times to meet the 15 calendar day deadline. With all these, USCIS want to be fair to everyone, so they have made this decision…
What do you think ? Speculation – Do you think it has something to do with New Trump administration 😉 ? Your thoughts ?