United States Citizenship and Immigration Services announced recently that it is temporarily suspending premium processing for all H-1B petitions starting on April 3. This means that petitioners will not be able to file Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing Service for a Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker that requests H-1B status. Per USCIS, the suspension could last up to six months.

The suspension will apply to all H-1B petitions filed on or after April 3, 2017, which includes petitions filed for the Fiscal Year 2018 H-1B cap, H-1B renewals and petitions that are cap-exempt. As noted by USCIS, the department will reject any Form I-907 that is filed with an H-1B petition. Therefore, if a petitioner submits one check for both the Form I-907 and Form I-129 H-1B fees, the department will reject both forms.

Why is premium processing for H-1B petitions being suspended?

USCIS has stated the suspension will help to reduce overall H-1B processing times and allow the department to process long-pending petitions and prioritize adjudication of H-1B extension of status cases that are nearing the 240-day mark. USCIS indicated that there has been a high volume of requests for premium processing.

Will a Form I-129 H-1B petition be premium processed if it was submitted before April 3, 2017?

Maybe. According to the notice, if a petitioner properly filed an associated Form I-907 before April 3, 2017, and USCIS is unable to take action on the petition within 15 days, they will refund the premium processing fee. To be safe, we are recommending that people who wish to upgrade to premium processing do so as soon as possible.

Is there another way to expedite the process?

USCIS notes that petitioners may submit a request to expedite an H-1B petition if they meet the criteria found here. Petitioners are encouraged to submit documentary evidence that they meet at least one of the criteria.

Please note the suspension does not apply to other eligible nonimmigrant classifications filed on Form I-129.

Please contact Brad Hendrick at 303-443-8010 or at bhendrick@celaw.com if you have any questions, or if you would like to get started on securing H-1B visas for your workers in 2017.