H1B Premium Processing Suspended News Till Feb 2019

USCIS News : H1B Premium Processing Suspended Until Feb 19, 2019. Impact Analysis ?

In H1B Visa News by Kumar167 Comments

USCIS announced earlier today that premium processing will be suspended for most of the H1B Visa petitions starting September 11th, 2018 until Feb 19th , 2019. Below is a summary of the update and how it will impact various H1B holders and prospective H1B seekers like F1 students, OPT, etc.

Summary of USCIS H1B Premium Processing Suspension until Feb 19th , 2019 :
Below is a quick summary on how the premium processing will apply to various visa holders.

  • H1B Visa FY 2019 Cap Subject Applicants  :  USCIS originally suspended premium processing for H1B FY 2019 applicants in April and planned to resume in early September, but this has changed and the new guidance is that the premium processing suspension continues for FY 2019 cap subject applicants until Feb 19, 2019.
  • H1B Extensions, Transfers :  As per the press release, starting September 11th, 2018 until Feb 19th, 2019, the premium processing is suspended for most of the H1B applicants, filing either extensions or transfers filing petitions at Vermont and California Service Centres with two exceptions as listed below.
    • Cap Exempt Employers : H1B Premium processing is available for cap exempt employers like Higher education institutions, government research entities and some qualified non-profit organizations that file petitions at California Service Center.
    • H1B Extensions – With NO Change : H1B extensions without any changes as indicated in I-129 form. See below screenshot, If the employer selects option b in part 2 of I-129 i.e. “continuation of previously approved employment without any change with the same employer”,   that are filed with Nebraska Service Center are eligible for premium processing.Option B - H1B Extension - I129 form
  • Option to Request Expedited Processing :  Similar to announcement in April,  if you require expedited processing due to reasons such as listed below, you can request for the same. More info on USCIS site.  It is the responsibility of the petitioner to demonstrate the need and prove the reasons for expediting. It is ultimate decision of USCIS and discretion of the office leadership to process it or not
    • Non-profit orgs that are in social, cultural interest of US
    • Severe financial loss to company or the person
    • Emergency Situations
    • Humanitarian reasons
    • Of Defense or national interest of US requested by US Govt.
    • Any USCIS error or compelling interest of USCIS.
  • Premium Processing Before Sept 11th, 2018 : USCIS will continue to accept Premium Processing for H1B applications until Sept 11th, 2018 for extensions, transfers. But, if USCIS is not able to adjudicate a premium processing petition filed before Sept 11th, 201 within 15 calendar day processing period, they will refund the premium processing fee. So, it is not fully guaranteed that filing premium processing will result in 15 days processing time even if you file it before Sept 11th.

Why USCIS is Suspending Premium Processing until next year  ?
USCIS says that they are suspending premium processing for H1B petitions to help reduce their backlog of H1B petitions that are due over 240 days. They want to reduce the overall processing time for all H1B petitions by adjudicating all the long pending petitions. With premium processing in place, USCIS is receiving many of premium processing requests and not able to adjudicate regular processing petitions on time and they are overdue.

What’s the impact of the H1B Premium processing suspension till Feb 2019 ?
This news can impact the below visa holders in US in different ways and very significantly.

  • F1 Students in Cap Gap – OPT :  International students on F1 visa and in OPT Cap gap with no H1B approval by October 1st need to stop working after September 30th. This is a tricky scenario and OPT students in Cap Gap period…If your petition was filed as Change of Status, you may continue to stay in US until you receive decision, but your authorization to work ends on September 30th.
  • Unlawful presence Memo – F1 Students : As you know, there are new guidelines by USCIS on how they look at  F1 students  Unlawful Presence after Aug 9th, 2018 , you need to extremely careful of your status and stay in US as 180 day mark for Unlawful status will hit by Feb 4th, 2019 and if your petition is denied for a reason that is due to unauthorized activity, you may be accumulating unlawful presence retroactively from August 9th and maybe facing 3 year bar( cannot get visa ) to enter US.
  • H1B Transfers – Changing Employers : Many of the employers and employees prefer to have approved H1B petition before someone begins working at new employer. With the suspension of premium processing, it can take a very long time to have that approval and many employees may be less willing to change employers due to this uncertainty.

What do you think of the suspension of Premium Processing ?  Any other impacts ?

Reference : USCIS Extends Premium Processing Suspension till Feb 2019 

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Comments ( 167 )

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  2. KR

    I’ve H1B visa based on my i140 approval. I think I’m cap exempt, does this ban applies to me if any new employer files h1 b transfer under premium.”?

  3. Raja

    My H1B extension petition is moved to some different procession center on Oct 1st from California. My employer says they didnt receive the notice yet. If the petition is moved to procession center will my receipt number changed?

  4. Ami Shah

    Has anyone applied for transfer of H1b in September 2018? What’s the status now?

    My new employer applied for a transfer under premium processing by Sept 11th, but USCIS returned the premium money and my case is now considered under regular processing. It’s Oct 16th, I haven’t heard anything and don’t know how long the new employer will wait.

    1. Jagath

      I think it would take 4 to 6 Months due to work load. I have applied for Extension in CSC in April and Still waiting for Initial results.

    2. onthesameboat

      I was in the exact same situation. But my employer withdrew the application and said will re-apply when the premium processing starts. In your case i am afraid it might take few months. But lately USCIS has been making progress in approving the applications. So fingers crossed.

      Good Luck!

  5. H1b2018

    Hello – I was working on H1 (cap subject) for 2 yrs, and stopped working this year and filed a COS to H4 . My COS application has not progressed beyond the receipt stage and has been 5+ months.

    Now I have an employer willing to file a H1. Will this be a COS or a transfer and will the ban on premium impact my case ?

    Thanks !

    1. administrator

      It is commonly called as H1B transfer with COS. You don’t need to go through lottery, you should be cap exempt. Premium processing ban should not have any impact, it will just take longer time to get it processed, that’s the only thing.

  6. Kiran

    Hi. Hope all is well. I am currently working on H1B in Boston. My employer recently asked me to move to a different office location (Dallas). Except location, there are no changes in my title, salary or job duties. Does Premium Processing Suspension applies to my location change amendment as well?


  7. Nima shepra

    I have applied for my H1B Extension along with H4 Extension for my wife and Kids on April 13th 2018 in California Service center. My I-94 got expired on June 1st 2018 and I am still waiting for Initial review.

    On October 1st USCIS has transferred my case from the CSC to Nebraska Service Center and I am yet to receive notice details of Mine.

    Today I have received Transfer Notice of H4 Extension mentioning we have completed a preliminary review of the application or petition(“your case”) listed above. As part of Standard Processing , we transferred your case to the USCIS office listed below that has jurisdiction over your case.

    Can some one tell what is the meaning for below point ?

    //we have completed a preliminary review of the application or petition(“your case”) listed above//

  8. soumya

    Hello, Hope all is well, i have a valid H1 till june 2019. i am still in India only. What if my visa get expires without travelling ? can i submit for extension ? does my visa becomes invalid ? how can i make my visa valid once it gets expires ?i am asking this question by assuming H1 visa validity is for 6 years. please answer.

    1. administrator

      Yes, you can file for extension/ new petition and does not have to go through lottery. You need an employer who can sponsor the same either current one or new one. 6 Years is counted based on time you spent in US. Your stay in India does not count towards H1B time.

        1. administrator

          Extension will be essentially a new petition, your employer need to submit all the documents and considered pretty much like a new one..so, it all depends on the role and the way how your employer positions it.

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