USCIS has announced that starting April 3, 2017, it will suspend the “premium processing” service for all H-1B petitions. The suspension could last as long as six months.
The announcement states that this action is necessary so that USCIS can reduce overall processing times for H-1B petitions, which have grown steadily over the past two years and now regularly exceed six months even for routine extensions.
During the premium processing suspension, USCIS will focus on processing long-pending petitions and will prioritize extension petitions for individuals who are nearing the end of the automatic 240-day extension of work authorization following the expiration of their previous petition.
April 3 is also the first day that employers may begin filing fiscal year 2018 H-1B visa petitions for individuals to begin H-1B employment on October 1, 2017. The opening of the H-1B cap is likely a main reason for the premium processing suspension, as USCIS probably expects to receive nearly 250,000 submissions based on last year’s filing volume. Resources that would otherwise have gone toward “premium processing” can now be shifted toward intake and adjudication of H-1B cap filings.
At this time, the “premium processing” suspension affects only H-1B petitions. The “premium processing” service will remain available for all other eligible nonimmigrant visa classifications.
During the suspension period, petitioners may still request an expedite of an H-1B petition. USCIS may expedite a petition or application if it meets one or more of the following criteria:
As always, please contact us with any questions.
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