USCIS has announced that starting February 19, 2019, it will resume premium processing service for all H-1B petitions (including change of employer or “port” petitions) filed on or before December 21, 2018.  Petitioners seeking to upgrade their pending H-1B petitions to premium processing must submit their request to the service center where the petition is pending.  In some instances petitions have been transferred to a service center other than the office where the petition was originally filed.  The premium processing request must be filed at the service center where the petition was transferred and a copy of the transfer notice must be submitted with the request.  If the premium processing request is sent to the wrong service center, USCIS will forward the request to the correct location.  However, the 15-day premium processing clock will not start until the premium processing request has been received at the correct center.  If a petitioner was issued a request for evidence (RFE) for a pending petition, it should include the RFE response with the premium processing request.  This follows last month’s USCIS announcement to resume premium processing for FY 2019 cap-subject H-1B petitions filed in April 2018.  There has been no update, yet, regarding the availability of premium processing for this year’s cap-subject petitions, which will be filed in April 2019.

 

On January 25, 2019, US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that the agency would reinstate premium processing for H-1B petitions filed last April under the FY 2019 annual quota (the “cap”), including those eligible for the advanced degree exemption (i.e., holders of US master’s degrees or higher). This reinstatement of premium processing is only available for pending petitions and will not apply to new submissions, as the FY 2019 cap quota has already been met.

The premium processing service permits employers to pay an additional fee of $1,410 to have an immigration benefit adjudicated within 15 days, and USCIS will return the additional fee to the employer if the benefit application is not timely adjudicated. Continue Reading USCIS to Resume Premium Processing for H-1B Cap-Subject Petitions Filed in April 2018 That Remain Pending

USCIS announced today that it is expanding its temporary suspension of premium processing to include additional types of H-1B petitions such as change of employer petitions and amendment petitions. Currently, the suspension impacts only cap-subject H-1B petitions which continue to be adjudicated under regular processing.  Effective September 11, 2018, all other H-1B petitions will be subject to the same suspension except for the following: (1) cap-exempt petitions filed exclusively with 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 (2) petitions filed exclusively with the Nebraska Service Center requesting continuation of previously approved employment without change with the same employer, with a concurrent request for either a visa notification (consular notification) or extension of stay.  This means that premium processing is suspended for H-1B change of employer petitions by which a foreign worker may transfer or “port” from one employer to another, as well as for H-1B amendments based on changes in employment such as job location changes.  The suspension is expected to last until February 19, 2018.

BREAKING NEWSUSCIS Reaches FY 2019 Cap

USCIS announced today, April 6, 2018, that it has reached the congressionally-mandated 65,000 H-1B visa cap for fiscal year 2019, as well as a sufficient number of H-1B petitions to meet the 20,000 visa U.S. advanced degree exemption, known as the “master’s cap.”  Our Legal Update from April 5, 2018, included below, advises employers on how to prepare for the next stage – selection or rejection notices, and, for selected cases, potential RFEs.

LEGAL ADVISORY:  What Every Employer Needs to Know

The current administration has made US immigration policy a central focus of its “America First” stance, imposing de novo review of all visa petitions; refusing H-1Bs for an increasing volume of early-career IT workers; suspending expedited, premium processing options for H-1B filings; imposing record volumes of Requests for Evidence and audits on employers sponsoring H-1B and L-1 workers; and rolling out an aggressive fraud review process for IT staffing suppliers.  In a Legal Update, Mayer Brown’s Liz Stern, Max Del Rey, and Anthony Tran advise on how to proceed during this disruptive time, when employers must be more prepared than ever.

Read the Legal Update.

For the second year in a row, US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that it will temporarily suspend premium processing for the upcoming fiscal year’s H-1B petitions, for which filings may be accepted as of April 2, 2018:

Starting April 2, 2018, USCIS will begin accepting H-1B petitions subject to the Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 cap. We will temporarily suspend premium processing for all FY 2019 cap-subject petitions, including petitions seeking an exemption for individuals with a U.S. master’s degree or higher.

USCIS’s premium processing service guarantees 15 calendar day processing to those petitioners or applicants who choose to use this service, or USCIS will refund the Premium Processing Service fee. If the fee is refunded, the relating case will continue to receive expedited processing. Continue Reading USCIS Suspends Premium Processing for H-1B Cap-Subject Petitions Twelve Days before Annual Lottery Commences