USCIS Suspends Premium Processing for H1b Visas on April 3rd 2017

On Friday March 3rd just before 3pm PST, USCIS dropped a bombshell that premium processing for H1b will be suspended from April 3 for about 6 months.  Below is a copy of the email.  This is particularly upsetting for cap-subject H1bs. In other words, the H1b lottery will be affected.  For cap cases, it is important to note the following:

  1. Premium processing Form I-907 and the filing fee check will be rejected if filed.
  2. If filing fee checks are sent in one check combined for both the Form I-129 and the Form I-907, the check will be rejected. That means the entire case will be rejected!

So, do NOT file Form I-907 if you are filing a cap-subject H1b petition on April 3rd.

It is also important to note that while April 1 is generally the date USCIS accepts H1b applications, as it falls on a Saturday this year, USCIS will accept petitions on Monday April 3rd.

Send us questions if you have any. But for now, read the below message carefully.

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Starting April 3, 2017, USCIS will temporarily suspend premium processing for all H-1B petitions. This suspension may last up to 6 months. While H-1B premium processing is suspended, 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 which requests the H-1B nonimmigrant classification. We will notify the public before resuming premium processing for H-1B petitions.

Who Is Affected

The temporary suspension applies to all H-1B petitions filed on or after April 3, 2017. Since FY18 cap-subject H-1B petitions cannot be filed before April 3, 2017, this suspension will apply to all petitions filed for the FY18 H-1B regular cap and master’s advanced degree cap exemption (the “master’s cap”). The suspension also applies to petitions that may be cap-exempt.

While premium processing is suspended, we will reject any Form I-907 filed with an H-1B petition. If the petitioner submits one combined check for both the Form I-907 and Form I-129 H-1B fees, we will have to reject both forms.

We will continue to premium process Form I-129 H-1B petitions if the petitioner properly filed an associated Form I-907 before April 3, 2017. Therefore, we will refund the premium processing fee if:

  1. The petitioner filed the Form I-907 for an H-1B petition before April 3, 2017, and
  2. We did not take adjudicative action on the case within the 15-calendar-day processing period.

This temporary suspension of premium processing does not apply to other eligible nonimmigrant classifications filed on Form I-129.

Requesting Expedited Processing

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. It is the petitioner’s responsibility to demonstrate that they meet at least one of the expedite criteria, and we encourage petitioners to submit documentary evidence to support their expedite request.

We review all expedite requests on a case-by-case basis and requests are granted at the discretion of the office leadership.

Why We Are Temporarily Suspending Premium Processing for H-1B Petitions

This temporary suspension will help us to reduce overall H-1B processing times. By temporarily suspending premium processing, we will be able to:

  • Process long-pending petitions, which we have currently been unable to process due to the high volume of incoming petitions and the significant surge in premium processing requests over the past few years; and
  • Prioritize adjudication of H-1B extension of status cases that are nearing the 240 day mark.

Please do not reply to this message.  See our Contact Us page for phone numbers and e-mail addresses.

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U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services sending to tahmina@watsonimmigrationlaw.com  20 Massachusetts Ave NW, Washington DC 20529 · 1-800-375-5283