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 Kumar203 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 ( 203 )

  1. Raj

    I am on F1 OPT and it expires on 5th January 2019, My fresh H1b application is still in process and its been 3 months after responded to RFE. So, can i continue to work after 5th Jan 2019 ? If not, what are the alternatives ? How long i can stay in US after my OPT EAD expires ?

    1. administrator

      Raj, You cannot work after Jan 5th as you will not have valid OPT. In general, you can only work in cap gap period and it ends on September 30th, this does not apply to you as you are not in cap gap period. You have standard 60 days grace period and you may remain after that as well as you have pending application, but there is also risk you carry, if the petition gets denied. So, discuss with your employer and attorney, take a decision. Also, read F1 visa working OPT after Cap Gap

  2. Parth


    I have an approved I-797 till 30th April, 2019.
    My project got changed in September so my employer filed an Amendment for the same on 14th September at California Service Center which is in progress.
    The current expected time to process the case as per the USCIS website is 7.5 Months to 10 Months.
    I have the following questions:-

    1.Can my employer file an extension in premium processing as per my current client ?
    2.Can an extension and amendment be in progress in parallel ?
    3.My passport is expiring in Jan 2020, will this impact the duration of extension approved ?

    Please help me by answering the above questions.


    1. administrator

      Well, it depends on the Amendment. If nothing has changed, then you may be eligible for extension in premium processing. If things have changed, then you are in a bridge situation, meaning your amendment also plays a role in your status. I suggest you discuss with your attorney and take necessary action as it permits based on your case.

        1. administrator

          may not be, unless it involves change in job duties or additional responsibilities and title change. Check with your attorney.

  3. Prabha Gupta

    My H1B visa will be expired on 31st Dec and I am in process of filing extension for it. My employer and location is smae. Can somebody let me know that I am eligible for premium processing.

    1. Payal

      You are eligible for premium processing. You fall under the second category of the two categories that are exempted from this rule, mentioned in the start of this article.

  4. Rahul


    My case background:

    June 19th: Filed for H1 extension
    Aug 31: Upgraded to Premium Processing
    Sep 5: Received RFE (employer-employee and proof for project lasting 3 years)
    Oct 19: Employer replied to the RFE on Oct 9th and USCIS received it on Oct 15th
    Current status on USCIS’: On Sep 5th, we mailed RFE letter

    Question: 1) Response to RFE should have re-started the 15 day clock, right? 2) Will the employer receive a refund to the $1,225

    I have tried looking for this over the web but nowhere it says clearly that the money will be refunded and steps to take if it takes beyond 15 days

    1. editor

      Since your petition was upgraded to premium processing before Sep 11. your petition is still considered as premium processing and would be given an update in 15 days. Good luck! Hope you would have got an result by now.

  5. Question

    Does Visa Transfer (Change of employer) come under Extension of Stay? Also can the company based in Chicago choose to send the application to Nebraska Service center ? Thanks.

  6. Ashok

    My H1b extension was filed on March 7 at California service center. I94 expired on March 27 2018.
    On Oct 1 it was transferred to Nebraska. Initial review done. Waiting for further updates. No RFE so far. 240 days end on Nov 22 2018.
    Employer says I am not eligible for premium filing at Nebraska service center as my petition base service center is California even though it is transferred to Nebraska. 🙁
    Raised a service ticket with USCIS for which I got a response saying “Your case is in line and an officer will be assigned for review. It may take additional 60 days. Applications are processed in the order in which they are received.”
    Employer says I cannot work after 240 days by law and I can stay after 240 days in the US and my stay is legal until I get the petition results.

    1. Anyone in similar scenario (H1B extensions transferred from California to Nebraska) converted your case into premium? Note: Nebraska is the only service center who is accepting premium petitions at this point of time.
    2. Anyone facing such situation and staying in the US beyond 240 days? If so is it legal? How long one can stay beyond 240 days? Will there be any problems during exit/entry/stamping in future ?

    Any further inputs would help me in speeding up the process.

    1. CK

      I am in exactly same situation

      California- Nebraska transferred on OCT 1st

      My 240 days end NOV 27.

      The processing times is 7 months plus now.

      1. Ashok

        Hi CK
        Is premium possible in your case or not?
        Any idea if we will fall into ‘out of status’ if petition is approved/denied after 240 days ?
        Will there be any issues in stamping/exit/entry to US in future if stayed after 240 days ?

        1. CLK

          No, If your petition is submitted to California you cant upgrade to premium.
          The result will be before the 240-day mark. Most of the times.

          Any idea if we will fall into ‘out of status’ if the petition is approved/denied after 240 days?
          Will there be any issues in stamping/exit/entry to the US in future if stayed after 240 days?

          As long as I know its valid scenario as u have the receipt and this is an extension case not new h1.
          with this paperwork it should be fine

          1. Ashok

            Thanks for the update. But situation is not good. I personally know some cases who did not receive the results 60 days post 240 day mark and they are waiting patiently at the US. I don’t know why USCIS is delaying this much even after cases been transferred to Nebraska due to work load balance.
            Looks like cases are not prioritized based on 240 day mark.
            When I raised a service ticket with USCIS through my employer, I got a response saying USCIS needs additional 60 days time.. 🙁 (which indicates applications are in regular queue and not in 240 day priority).
            Hoping I will get some results, waiting patiently on this.
            If you get any updates do keep posted.

          2. CLK

            So the Premium was stopped on sep 11th

            Cases will be processed before 240 day mark.
            My Amendment last time was exactly 231 days.

            So now as there are no premium cases will be processed.
            It will be done

          3. Ashok

            I got text notification yesterday. My case is ‘Request for Additional Evidence’ now. Yet to know further details on required documents. 🙁

        2. CLK

          Hi Ashok

          So Do you have masters by any chance?
          When did you apply for extension what date?
          Now how much time will it take for RFE to respond.

          1. Ashok

            Hi CLK
            I have Masters in Computer Applications. I applied for extension on March 7 2018. You can see my detailed info on my post itself.
            Employer has not yet received the hard copy of RFE itself. once they receive they will prioritize and file. Hopefully all these process will take another 2 months to get final adjucation from USCIS.

            In my case Can H4 (dependents) stay in the US after 240 days? OR Should they leave the country before 240 days. Anyone advice

          2. Clk

            If it’s desi employer like
            Small companies
            Rfe is very common
            Or many layers

            Also if Lca is less what many desi and big Indian employers do then rejections is for sure.

            If u have ece or mech bachelors and ur doing cs jobs
            Definite rejections

            People got rejected like this in Facebook
            Small employers are nothing

  7. 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.”?

  8. 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?

      1. Raja

        thanks for the reply.
        on Oct 1st the status showed that my petition is moved to different processing center. Still the same status is visible. Will i get a status like “they received my application in the different center”? because i applied on march 26th and in the other 2 center’s those months are already over. So not sure if the other center received my application or not.

        1. Ashok

          Call the toll free number for USCIS and key in your receipt number. It will tell you which location your petition is transferred to.

  9. 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!

  10. 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.

  11. 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?


  12. 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//

        1. Ashok

          Mine is also in the same case. H1b extension filed on March 7 at California service center. Oct 1 it was transferred to Nebraska. Initial review done. waiting for further updates. 240 days end on Nov 22.
          Employer says am not eligible for premium as my petition base location is California even though it is transferred to Nebraska.
          Raised a service ticket with USCIS for which I got a response saying “Your case is in line and an officer will be assigned for review. It may take additional 60 days. Applications are processed in the order in which they are received.”
          Employer says we can stay after 240 days in the US and our stay is legal until we get the petition adjucated.
          Is your case eligible for premium? Any inputs would help in this regard.

        2. Ashok

          @Vinoth – Have you got any further updates from USCIS? I am also like your same situation. Filed on March 7. Petition Transferred from California to Nebraska.
          My employer says I cant work after 240 days but can stay in LOP and wait for results.
          What have you decided in your case?

        3. Ashok

          I got text notification yesterday. My case is ‘Request for Additional Evidence’ now. Yet to know further details on required documents.

          1. Balaji

            Ashok, I am in the same status like you. Still waiting for my employer to receive RFE from USCIS.

            What is your current status?
            What are documents requested from USCIS?
            Is it okay to stay in US after 240 days?

            Please advice

  13. 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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