USCIS Extends and Expands Temporary Suspension of Premium Processing for Certain H-1B Petitions

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) announced today that it is extending the temporary suspension of premium processing for all FY2019 cap-subject H-1B petitions in an effort to reduce processing delays. The temporary suspension which was put into place on March 19, 2018 is now expected to last until February 19, 2019. In addition, beginning September 11, 2018, the temporary suspension of premium processing will extend to all H-1B petitions filed with the California and Vermont Service Centers, with the exception of petitions filed by H-1B cap-exempt employers.* This expansion is also expected to last until February 19, 2019. Premium processing requests for eligible H-1B petitions (i.e. "transfer" or amendment petitions) will be accepted by USCIS until September 10, 2018. Premium processing will remain available for H-1B extension of stay petitions (continuation of employment without change with the same employer) that are filed exclusively with the Nebraska Service Center. What This Means for Our Clients H-1B Cap Petitions. We will be reviewing all pending H-1B cap petitions and will advise if the extended suspension of premium processing may require a change in travel plans and/or cause complications in work authorization. H-1B Change of Employer (“Transfer”) Petitions. If you are currently considering positions or candidates that may require H-1B sponsorship, we encourage you to contact our office so that we may assist in preparing and filing an H-1B petition as quickly as possible before the premium processing suspension takes effect on September 11. In most cases involving change of employer H-1B petitions where the foreign worker is already employed in the U.S. in H-1B status, the worker may start at the new employer upon receiving the receipt notice for the H-1B petition filed by the new employer. Without premium processing, it generally takes 2-3 weeks to obtain this receipt notice. Where necessary, employers may request for expedited processing of affected H-1B petitions. Please refer to our previous alert on the temporary suspension of premium processing for more information on the criteria for expedited processing requests. Once the temporary suspension has been lifted, we will notify our clients of all pending H-1B petitions that are eligible for premium processing upgrades. * Cap-exempt employers include institutions of higher education, nonprofit entities related to or affiliated with institutions of higher education, nonprofit research organizations, and governmental research organizations.

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