USCIS Announces Phase-In Process for Premium Processing of FY2020 H-1B Cap-Subject Petitions

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that premium processing will be available for FY2020 H1-B cap-subject petitions in a two-phased approach. Per USCIS’ announcement, the phase-in process will allow the agency to better manage premium processing requests without instituting a full suspension of the program as has been done for the past two H-1B cap seasons. The two-phased approach for premium processing of FY2020 H-1B cap-subject petitions will be as follows:

  • Phase One: H-1B Cap-Subject Petitions with Change of Status Requests:

Starting on April 1, 2019, the first day of the FY2020 H-1B cap filing period, petitioners may file a Form I-907 Request for Premium Processing concurrently with H-1B cap-subject petitions requesting for change of status. USCIS will begin premium processing of these petitions no later than May 20, 2019. If the premium processing request is not filed concurrently with the H-1B cap-subject petition, employers must wait until USCIS announces that premium processing has begun for these petitions to file the Form I-907. Premium processing requests not filed concurrently but separately interfiled before the start date of Phase One will be rejected.

  • Phase Two: H-1B Cap-Subject Petitions Requesting for Consular Notification

Premium processing for H-1B cap-subject petitions requesting for visa processing at a US consular post abroad will not become available until at least June 20, 2019. These types of petitions are thus ineligible for concurrent filing of the premium processing requests at the outset. Rather, petitioners can only interfile the premium processing requests once USCIS confirms the start date of Phase Two. Premium processing requests filed before the start date of Phase Two will be rejected.

What this means for our clients:

USCIS will begin accepting new H-1B petitions that are subject to the FY2020 annual quota starting on Monday, April 1st. As has been the case over the last six years, we expect that the cap will be reached during the first five business days of April, from April 1st to April 5th. As USCIS processing times are becoming increasingly difficult to predict, and because the agency’s policy with respect to cap filing procedures and the availability of premium processing continues to fluctuate, we recommend filing requests for premium processing concurrently for all eligible H-1B cap petitions, unless the prospective H-1B worker is eligible for an alternative mode of U.S. work authorization for at least the next 12 months. Over the next several days, we will be reaching out to clients who are filing petitions in this year’s H-1B cap lottery to confirm the decision to file with premium processing. Please note that if the H-1B petition is rejected in the lottery, the premium processing fee, and other government filing fees will be refunded to the client.

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