Faegre Baker Daniels

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will resume premium processing for H-1B cap petitions that were filed in the first five business days of April 2018, the federal agency announced January 25.

This will be welcome news to many employers and potential H-1B workers because premium processing has been suspended for these cases since April 2018.

For the fiscal year 2019 H-1B cap petitions that remain pending without a Request for Evidence (RFE) or decision, employers may file premium processing “upgrade” requests to receive an update within 15 calendar days. Similarly, for employers who have received RFEs for pending fiscal year 2019 H-1B cap petitions, a premium processing request may be submitted along with the RFE response.

Premium processing for other H-1B case types – including change-of-employer petitions, fiscal year 2020 H-1B cap petitions or amendments – remains suspended. USCIS has not commented on when premium processing will resume for other types of H-1B petitions. 

When USCIS announced in August 2018 that premium processing would be suspended for nearly all H-1B case types (not just H-1B cap cases), the expectation was that the suspension would last until at least February 19, 2019.

Note that cap-exempt petitions have never been affected by the suspension, nor have petitions that are filed to extend H-1B status where there is no change in employment. These petitions remain eligible for premium processing.