Starting April 2, 2018, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) began accepting H-1B petitions subject to the fiscal year (FY) 2019 cap. USCIS said it will temporarily suspend premium processing for all FY 2019 cap-subject petitions, including petitions seeking an exemption for individuals with a U.S. master’s degree or higher, until September 10, 2018. During this time, the agency will continue to accept premium processing requests for H-1B petitions that are not subject to the FY 2019 cap. USCIS said it will notify the public before resuming premium processing for cap-subject H-1B petitions or making any other premium processing updates.
During this temporary suspension, USCIS will reject any Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing Service, filed with an FY 2019 cap-subject H-1B petition. If a petitioner submits one combined check for the fees for Form I-907 and Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, USCIS will reject both forms. When the agency resumes premium processing, petitioners may file a Form I-907 for FY 2019 cap-subject H-1B petitions that remain pending.
While premium processing is suspended, a petitioner may submit a request to expedite an FY 2019 cap-subject H-1B petition if it meets certain “expedite criteria”:
- Severe financial loss to company or person;
- Emergency situation;
- Humanitarian reasons;
- Nonprofit organization whose request furthers U.S. cultural and social interests;
- Department of Defense or national interest situation (such expedite requests must come from an official U.S. government entity and state that delay will be detrimental to the government);
- USCIS error;
- Compelling interest of USCIS.
USCIS encourages petitioners to submit documentary evidence to support their expedite requests. “We review all expedite requests on a case-by-case basis and will grant requests at the discretion of USCIS office leadership,” the agency said.
USCIS said the temporary suspension will help it reduce overall H-1B processing times. By temporarily suspending premium processing, USCIS 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 to prioritize adjudication of H-1B extension-of-status cases that are nearing the 240-day mark.