U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that starting April 3, 2017, the agency will temporarily suspend premium processing for all H-1B petitions. The suspension may last up to 6 months. While H-1B premium processing is suspended, petitioners will not be able to file a Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing Service for a Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, that requests H-1B nonimmigrant classification. If the petitioner submits one combined check for both the I-907 and I-129 H-1B fees, USCIS said it will reject both forms.
USCIS said the temporary suspension will help the agency to reduce overall H-1B processing times by allowing it to process long-pending petitions, which the agency has been unable to process due to a high volume of incoming petitions and a significant surge in premium processing requests over the past few years, and by allowing it to prioritize adjudication of H-1B extension-of-status cases that are nearing the 240-day mark.
The temporary suspension applies to all H-1B petitions filed on or after April 3, 2017. Since FY 2018 cap-subject H-1B petitions cannot be filed before April 3, 2017, this suspension will apply to all petitions filed for the FY 2018 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.
USCIS said it will continue to premium-process I-129 H-1B petitions if the petitioner properly filed an associated I-907 before April 3, 2017. USCIS will refund the premium processing fee if:
- The petitioner filed the I-907 for an H-1B petition before April 3, 2017, and
- USCIS 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 an I-129.
Universities and other H-1B cap exempt petitioners are upset about the premium processing suspension. Without premium processing, some H-1B petitions are currently taking over six months to be decided. Litigation is possible.