H-1B visa – USCIS extends and expands suspension of premium processing

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The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is extending the previously announced temporary suspension of the premium processing of H-1B visa petitions and will be expanding this temporary suspension to include certain additional H-1B petitions as of September 11, 2018 until February 19, 2019.

The public will also be notified on uscis.gov, before the premium processing for these petitions resumes.

According to a press release, while H-1B visa premium processing is suspended, any Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing Service filed with an affected Form I-129 and Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker will be rejected.

If a petitioner submits one combined check for the Form I-907 and Form I 129 H-1B fees, then both forms will be rejected.

The expanded temporary suspension applies to all H-1B petitions filed at the Vermont and California Service Centers as the previously announced suspension of premium processing for fiscal year 2019 cap-subject H-1B petitions was originally slated to last until September 10, 2018, now it is being extended to an estimated date of February 19, 2019.

The USCIS will continue premium processing of Form I-129 H-1B petitions that are not currently suspended if the petitioner properly filed an associated Form I-907 before September 11, 2018 and will refund the premium processing fee if the petitioner filed the Form I-907 for an H-1B petition before September 11, 2018 and the USCIS did not take adjudicative action on the case within the 15-calendar-day processing period.

On the other note, the suspension does not apply to:

  1. Cap-exempt petitions that are filed exclusively at the California Service Center because the employer is cap exempt or because the beneficiary will be employed at a qualifying cap exempt institution, entity, or organization; or
  2. Those petitions filed exclusively at the Nebraska Service Center by an employer requesting a “Continuation of previously approved employment without change with the same employer” (Box b. on Part 2, Question 2, Page 2 of the current Form I-129) with a concurrent request to:
    • Notify the office in Part 4 so each beneficiary can obtain a visa or be admitted. (Box on Part 2, Question 4, Page 2 of the current Form I-129); or
    • Extend the stay of each beneficiary because the beneficiary now holds this status. (Box c. on Part 2, Question 4, Page 2 of the current Form I-129).

The temporary suspension of premium processing also does not apply to any other nonimmigrant classifications filed on Form I-129.

While premium processing is suspended, petitioners may submit a request to expedite an H-1B petition if they meet the criteria on the Expedite Criteria webpage and demonstrate that they meet at least one of the expedite criteria along with submitting documentary evidence to support their expedite request, according to a press release.

The temporary suspension is to reduce overall H-1B processing times, allowing the USCIS to process long-pending petitions, be responsive to petitions with time-sensitive start dates and prioritize adjudication of H-1B extension of status cases that are nearing the 240-day mark.

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