USCIS announced that it will continue the current suspension of premium processing service for H-1B cap-subject petitions through an estimated date of February 19, 2019. In addition, as of September 11, 2018, USCIS will expand the suspension of premium processing services to all H-1B petitions filed at the Vermont and California Service Centers, excluding certain cap-exempt filings.
Continued Suspension of Premium Processing for Cap-Subject H-1B Petitions:
Earlier this year, USCIS announced all H-1B petitions subject to the Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 cap would not be eligible for 15-day, premium processing service. This did not apply to non-cap subject H-1B petitions such as petitions for extension or amendment of H-1B status. The Service anticipated the suspension for cap-subject petitions would last until September 10, 2018. However on August 28, 2018, the Service announced this suspension would be extended through an estimated date of February 19, 2019.
New Suspension of Premium Processing for Other H-1B Petitions:
On August 28, 2018, USCIS also announced it would expand the suspension of premium processing to include H-1B petitions that were previously eligible for premium processing services, including petitions for extension or amendment of H-1B status.
This suspension takes effect on September 11, 2018 and applies to all H-1B petitions filed at the Vermont and California Service Centers, excluding the following cap-exempt filings:
Cap-exempt petitions that are filed exclusively at the California Service Center because the employer is cap exempt or because the beneficiary will be employed at a qualifying cap exempt institution, entity, or organization; or
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" (Box b. on Part 2, Question 2, Page 2 of the current Form I-129) with a concurrent request to:
Notify the office in Part 4 so each beneficiary can obtain a visa or be admitted. (Box on Part 2, Question 4, Page 2 of the current Form I-129); or
Extend the stay of each beneficiary because the beneficiary now holds this status. (Box c. on Part 2, Question 4, Page 2 of the current Form I-129).
Who is Not Impacted:
The suspension of premium processing only applies to petitions for H-1B visa classification. It does not apply to any other nonimmigrant classifications filed on Form I-129, such as L-1 or O-1.
USCIS will continue premium processing H-1B petitions that are not currently suspended if the petitioner properly filed Form I-907 "Request to Premium Process" before September 11, 2018.
The Service will refund the premium processing fee if the petitioner filed Form I-907 for an H-1B petition before Sept. 11, 2018 and the Service did not take adjudicative action on the case within the 15-calendar-day processing period.
How To Expedite During the Suspension:
A petitioner may submit a request to expedite an H-1B petition provided they can demonstrate there is an urgent need for adjudication based on at least one of the following criteria:
Nonprofit organization whose request is in furtherance of the cultural and social interests of the United States
Department of Defense or national interest situation (These particular expedite requests must come from an official U.S. government entity and state that delay will be detrimental to the government.)
Severe financial loss to company or person
USCIS error; or
Compelling interest of USCIS