USCIS to Suspend Premium Processing for All H-1B petitions

On Friday, March 3, 2017, USCIS announced that starting April 3, 2017, it will temporarily suspend premium processing for all H-1B petitions.

As this sudden change will severely impact processing of these petitions by our clients, we are publishing this bullet point client advisory highlighting what you should know along with certain recommendations and clarifications.

  • As it appears to apply to all H-1B petitions, this will include filings for new H-1B’s (which cannot be filed until Monday, April 3, 2017), includes petitions by cap-exempt employers and even applies to extensions/change of employer applications for foreign nationals who already hold H-1B status.
  • USCIS indicates it will continue to process Form I-129 H-1B petitions if the petitioner properly filed Form I-907 before the cut-off date. USCIS will return the premium processing fee if:
      1. The I-907 was filed before April 3, 2017; and
      2.  Adjudicative action was not taken within the 15 calendar day processing period.

Unfortunately, it is not clear what USCIS will do with cases that were (will be) filed under premium processing but not adjudicated by April 3. Thus, if you are thinking of upgrading a pending petition to premium processing, try to do this by mid-March to increase the likelihood of it being both filed and processed before April 3.

If you deem it necessary to file for premium processing before the April 3, 2017 cut-off date, (this may be desirable for those requiring international travel, renewal of some state driver’s licenses) submit two separate checks, one for the I-129 and one for I-907.

Still in effect is the option of employers requesting “expedited processing” per USCIS guidelines which have been very narrow, restricted and difficult to meet. These standards may be liberalized with the premium processing no longer available.

Please note foreign nationals with H-1B status can still file to change H-1B employers and then change employers (without premium processing) upon the filing but obviously now run an additional risk if the new H-1B petition is not approved several months down the road.

Premium processing remains in effect for all other (non-H-1B) petitions.

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