H-1B Premium Processing Is Suspended

Today, USCIS announced that they are extending the H-1B premium processing program for H-1B cap cases until at least 2/19/2019, and that they are extending the H-1B premium processing suspension for certain other types of H-1B petitions.

What does this mean? Please refer to our handy chart below for insight on how much you should freak out about this most recent USCIS update:

Type of H-1B Filing
Is Premium Processing Available Now?
Should I Be Concerned?
H-1B Cap Petition No. USCIS announced last spring that they would not accept H-1B cap cases for premium processing, until at least September 2018. Now they are saying that they still will not accept a premium processing upgrade request for H-1B cap petitions, until at least 2/19/2019. This is concerning for those H-1B beneficiaries who are currently working pursuant to H-1B cap gap. If you are working pursuant to H-1B cap gap, you are authorized to keep working until 9/30/2018, but not beyond that. That means if your H-1B petition is not approved by that time, you can remain in the US (assuming you have requested a change of status), but you cannot work until the H-1B petition is approved.
H-1B Petition Filed with California Service Center (except for cap-exempt petitioners) or Vermont Service Center - This includes H-1B amendments and transfers Premium processing will not be available for these cases, beginning 9/11/2018. This is expected to last until at least 2/19/2019. In general, if you are filing an amended petition, there is not a reason to need premium processing. There are certainly exceptions to this, so you should consult with your immigration attorney if you have questions. For H-1B transfers, you likely qualify for H-1B portability, meaning you are able to start working immediately once USCIS receives your petition. You can keep working until USCIS approves your petition (and beyond, assuming your petition is approved). Therefore unless you have a specific reason to need premium processing, you should not be affected, other than needing to be patient to wait for the H-1B approval.
H-1B Extension - Petition filed by the same employer, without change, and requesting an extension, or consular processing (this includes H-1B extensions, as long as the extension does not also include an amendment) PREMIUM PROCESSING IS STILL AVAILABLE You should not be concerned any more than before, because premium processing is still available.
Why Did USCIS Suspend Premium Processing?

USCIS states that they are suspending premium processing so that they can:

  • Work on cases that have been pending a long time, rather than having to dedicate resources to address premium processing cases;
  • Give prompt attention to cases with earlier start dates; and
  • Prioritize cases that are nearing the 240-day mark.
What if my case is still pending under premium processing on September 11th, when this goes into effect?

If you filed your H-1B petition under premium processing before September 11th, and it is one of the types of H-1B petitions affected by this premium processing suspension, then USCIS should still process your H-1B petition under the premium processing program.

Do you need assistance with a family-based or employment-based immigration matter? Please contact our office today to see how we may be able to assist you! Emily Sumner is an immigration lawyer in Richmond, VA but we serve clients throughout the US and around the world. Please call us at 804-396-3412 or email us at info@sumnerimmigration.com. We look forward to hearing from you!