On August 28th, the United States Customs and Immigration Service (USCIS) issued a notice of further suspension to premium processing for cap-subject H-1B petitions while expanding the premium processing suspension for additional H-1B petitions. The new suspension took effect on September 11, 2018.
The suspension of premium processing continues to impact H-1B petitions filed at the Vermont and California Service Centers, with few exceptions. Originally, the suspension of premium processing was to end on September 10th. However, the extension of the suspension is set to end in February of 2019 and is delaying more applications than before. Those who have filed for premium processing before September 11th in anticipation of the original end to the suspension on premium processing will receive a refund of the premium processing fee. According to USCIS, petitions excluded from the limit to premium processing include:
- Cap-exempt petitions that are filed exclusively at the California Service Center because the employer is cap exempt or the beneficiary will be employed at a qualifying cap exempt institution, entity, or organization.
- Those petitions filed exclusively at the Nebraska Service Center by an employer requesting a “Continuation of previously approved employment without change with the same employer” with a concurrent request to notify the office in Part 4 so each beneficiary can obtain a visa or be admitted.) or extend the stay of each beneficiary because the beneficiary now holds this status.
The continued suspension of premium processing marks even longer periods of wait time for those wishing to work in the United States under the H-1B program. USCIS claims the continued suspension will help the Service Center address serious backlogs and it is unclear whether premium processing will be available for 2019 filing season.