September 20, 2017
Earlier this year, USCIS stopped allowing H-1B petitions to be filed with (or upgraded to) Premium Processing. This decision affected all of the 2018 cap-subject petitions filed in the first full week of April, many of which remain pending. However, on Monday USCIS announced that it would begin accepting Premium Processing upgrade requests for still-pending cap-subject H-1B petitions. They clarify that “this service is only available for pending petitions, not new submissions, since USCIS received enough petitions in April to meet the FY 2018 cap.”
USCIS had previously resumed accepting premium processing for “H-1B petitions filed on behalf of physicians under the Conrad 30 waiver program, as well as interested government agency waivers and for certain H-1B petitions that are not subject to the cap.”
They go on to confirm that “premium processing remains temporarily suspended for all other H-1B petitions, such as extensions of stay.” However, they note that “USCIS plans to resume premium processing for all other remaining H‑1B petitions not subject to the FY 2018 cap, as agency workloads permit.” We’ll be sure to update clients whenever additional information becomes available.
As a reminder, Premium Processing is an expediting service that USCIS offers (for a price) alongside a limited selection of petitions, including some I-129 petitions and most I-140 petitions. If a petition is submitted with the I-907 Request for Premium Processing Service (and the required $1225 USCIS I-907 filing fee), USCIS agrees to complete processing – which means either rendering a decision or requesting additional information – within 15 days of receipt. This is significantly faster than ‘regular’ processing, for which total processing time can range from 3 months all the way up to a year.