The government has announced the temporary suspension of its Premium Processing service for all H-1B petitions subject to the Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 cap, effective April 2, 2018.  This suspension, which is expected to last until September 10, 2018, applies only to the H-1B classification. The government will announce when the Premium Processing service will resume.

The Premium Processing service guarantees the adjudication of petitions filed with USCIS in 15 calendar days or less, compared to regular processing, which is currently taking around 6 months at the California Service Center and up to 10 months at the Vermont Service Center. The government states the reduction of these long processing times as a primary motivator for the suspension of Premium Processing.

The suspension will directly affect all H-1B cap applications filed for the H-1B lottery during the first week of April 2018.  Unlike previous years, it will not affect petitions for current H-1B employees, including H-1B extensions and H-1B change of employer petitions. USCIS will continue to accept Premium Processing requests for H-1B petitions that are not subject to the FY 2019 cap.

Implications for our clients:

1. Employers whose H-1B petitions are not subject to the FY 2019 cap: We will request Premium Processing as planned.
2. Employers who have opted for Premium Processing but whose H-1B petitions are subject to the FY 2019 cap: We will submit the request for Premium Processing as soon as the suspension is lifted.
3. Employers who now have an H-1B petition pending and have not yet opted for Premium Processing: You still have an opportunity to request Premium Processing.  One reason to request Premium Processing is for the employee to have an Approval Notice in hand before the expiration of a Driver’s License or Travel Visa (to facilitate the renewal of each).