H-1B News Alert: USCIS Suspends Premium Processing

HIGHLIGHTS
Executive Order Changes to U.S. immigration

As of April 3, 2017, the USCIS will not be accepting premium processing for any H-1B petitions for approximately 6 months.  The USCIS has noted that they are doing this in order to utilize their existing staff to help alleviate the current backlog they have with regards to regular processed H-1B cap cases.  The bar on premium processing upgrades will apply to all H-1B cap cases to be filed this year as April 3rd is the first date the USCIS will start to process cap cases for the lottery.

What you need to know

If you have an employee in H-1B status and anticipate having to file an extension, please note that your employee will remain in valid working status for up to 240 days past your expiration date while the application is pending.  You do not need an approval to remain in valid H-1B status.

If your employee needs to travel outside of the US and your H-1B visa will expire or has expired, unfortunately they cannot travel until their H-1B extension or change of status is approved.  They will need the H-1B approval notice to get the visa and reenter.  We understand this is frustrating to hear and will be sure to let you know as soon as the USCIS does start to allow premium processing upgrades again.

If you already paid to have a premium processing addition to your H-1B case that cannot be filed and accepted by the USCIS until April 3rd or after, your Envoy Client Manager and/or Account Executive will reach out to you to assist you with a refund or credit.

The group most affected will be those people who expect to have a H-1B cap case filed for them this year.  Although we are sure you are aware a H-1B cap case can be filed on April 1st, the USCIS does not accept petition on Saturday and thus, the petition will be accepted for the lottery on April 3rd thus being subject to the premium processing bar.   There is nothing unfortunately that we can do to circumvent this notice.

We will continue to monitor and update with any other news or recommendations.

Please see alert from USCIS below:

USCIS Will Temporarily Suspend
Premium Processing for All
H-1B Petitions

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.