On September 11, 2018, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) further suspended premium processing for cap-subject H-1B petitions while expanding the premium processing suspension for additional H-1B petitions. Last year’s suspension was set to expand well into February. However, USCIS has announced that the Service will continue premium processing on January 28th for all fiscal year 2019 H-1B cap petitions. For petitioners, the lifted suspension will hopefully end a long period of delay.
The Premium Processing request allows for petitioners to file for expedited processing of an H-1B visa. If approved, those petitioners who pay the premium processing fee are guaranteed a 15-day processing time. If the petitioner does not receive an adjudication within 15 days, USCIS refunds the premium processing fee of $1,410. The fee increased late last year by nearly $200 to adjust to the consumer price index.
Reason for Suspension
USCIS suspended premium processing in March of 2018 to adjust for the busy filing time. However, this left many forced to endure long wait times. Set to end in September of 2018, the suspension was again expanded into early this year. With over 200,000 applications for premium processing each year, USCIS often is unable to provide the expedited service.
By lifting the suspension on premium processing for FY19 filings, USCIS has now allowed those eligible for advanced degree exemptions (the master’s cap), to file for premium processing. Those who received requests for evidence (RFE) for a FY19 cap petition may submit their premium processing request with their RFE response. USCIS has yet to announce premium processing availability for other categories of H-1B petitions.