USCIS has announced changes to its premium processing program for this year’s H-1B cap season.  The changes to the premium processing program apply only to petitions subject to the annual fiscal year H-1B cap.  Generally, these are new H-1B petitions for individuals who don’t already hold H-1B status.  Premium processing remains available for all other H-1B petitions, including H-1B extensions, change of employer petitions, and amendments.

Premium processing allows H-1B petitioners to receive a response regarding their petitions in 15 days rather than a few months or more.  Premium processing will be suspended for all initial cap-subject H-1B petitions that are selected in the annual lottery.  Thereafter, premium processing will be offered in two phases to help USCIS manage the volume of new H-1B petitions.  USCIS implemented a similar two-phased approach last year during its busiest H-1B filing season.

When premium processing resumes for cap-subject H-1B petitions, the first phase will include petitions requesting a change of status from F-1 student status.  USCIS expects premium processing will resume for these petitions no later than May 27, 2020.  The second phase will include all other cap-subject petitions; premium processing for these cases will resume on June 29, 2020 at the earliest.

We will prepare the premium processing application and proactively submit it as soon as possible for our clients who have already authorized premium processing for their cap-subject H-1B petitions.  For those who have not selected premium processing, we will notify clients when the service resumes so they can opt to request premium processing at that time.

Hopefully, the government will stick to its schedule and avoid a total suspension of premium processing.  USCIS will likely make additional announcements regarding premium processing in the coming months.  We will continue to track any updates to keep our clients informed.