On Tuesday, August 28, 2018, USCIS posted an alert to its website announcing that USCIS will continue to suspend Premium Processing service for all H-1B petitions that are subject to the Fiscal Year 2019 Cap. Beginning September 11, 2018, the agency will further expand the suspension to include premium processing requests for a change of H-1B employer, H-1B amendments, and non-cap subject changes of status to H-1B. Premium processing will resume for these cases types after February 19, 2019.
Premium processing is still available for extensions of H-1B status with the same employer and without changes in circumstances. Premium processing is also still available for non H-1B cases that are eligible for premium processing such as L-1s, O-1s, and certain I-140 petitions.
Premium Processing is the often-used service whereby a petitioner pays an additional $1,225 filing fee, for which USCIS is supposed to adjudicate the petition within 15 calendar days. The complete USCIS posting may be referenced via the following link: https://www.uscis.gov/news/uscis-extends-and-expands-suspension-premium-processing-h-1b-petitions-reduce-delays
Why would the U.S. government reject potentially millions of dollars in added filing fees? According to the alert, USCIS is suspending Premium Processing for H-1Bs in order to allow examining officers to catch up to long-pending petitions and to prioritize those cases.
USCIS indicates that a petitioner may still request expedited action on an H-1B petition if specific criteria are met. Please refer to the following link: https://www.uscis.gov/forms/expedite-criteria
Finnan, Fleischut & Associates will continue to keep our clients advised of important developments in this area. If you have specific questions about how these developments affect a current or possible future situation, please contact us.