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Premium Processing Suspension Extended and Expanded for H-1B Petitions as of September 11, 2018

This afternoon, USCIS announced that it is extending the temporary suspension of premium processing for cap-subject H-1B petitions. In addition, starting September 11, 2018, USCIS will expand the suspension to include additional types of H-1B petitions. The suspension is expected to last until February 19, 2019. 

USCIS reports that this suspension is being implemented to prioritize its adjudication of H-1B extension of stay petitions nearing the 240-day mark, and to reduce the overall H-1B processing times due to the high volume of incoming petitions and premium processing requests over the past few months. 

Those Affected

Premium processing will continue to be unavailable for fiscal year 2019 cap-subject H-1B petitions. In addition, premium processing will be unavailable for all H-1B petitions filed at the Vermont and California Service Centers, which request either a change of employer or an amendment to a previously approved H-1B petition.

Those Not Affected

Premium processing will remain available for H-1B petitions filed by a “cap-exempt” beneficiary a “cap-exempt” employer, and all cap-exempt petitions requesting a change of nonimmigrant status or consular notification.

Premium processing is available for H-1B petitions only if they are filed as a continuation of employment by the same employer and the petition requests either an extension of stay or consular notification.

This suspension is not applicable to any other classifications filed on Form I-129 that are otherwise eligible for premium processing, including L-1, O-1, P-1, or TN.

USCIS will continue to premium process H-1B petitions received prior to September 11, 2018. However, there is no assurance that USCIS will adjudicate these petitions within the accelerated period, as the agency is reasserting its right and obligation to refund the premium processing fee if it does not act on such cases within the 15-day period.

We will provide an update on the status of premium processing for H-1B petitions when USCIS releases additional information. If you have questions, please contact your Mintz Levin attorney.

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