As of October 3, 2017, USCIS has resumed premium processing for all H-1B petitions.
USCIS’ premium processing service guarantees a 15 calendar day processing time for certain petitions filed at a Service Center, including H-1Bs, L-1s, and certain I-140 petitions. In April, USCIS suspended premium processing for all H-1B petitions for up to a six month period. At the 2017 AILA Annual Conference, representatives of USCIS confirmed that the reason for the suspension of premium processing was to allow adjudicators to focus on adjudicating backlogged H-1B extension cases. With 69% of H-1B petitions being premium processed, and therefore moved to the front of the line, USCIS adjudicators did not have the ability to focus on, and adjudicate, backlogged cases. Although premium processing offers a significant source of revenue for USCIS, the agency made the decision to temporarily suspend the service and then reintroduce it in a phased approach, to avoid an insurmountable surge in caseload. As a result, in June, USCIS resumed H-1B premium processing under the Conrad 30 Waiver program and, in July, it resumed premium processing for certain cap-exempt H-1B petitions. In September, USCIS resumed premium processing for H-1B petitions subject to the annual cap. Finally, on October 3, USCIS announced that it resumed premium processing for all H-1B petitions, including H-1B extensions, amendments, and change of employer petitions.
Premium processing has been a very important part of the H-1B program and its resumption is significant for employers and employees alike. Below are some examples of how the ability to premium process cases is beneficial to both employers and employees:
– Premium processing allows for employers to know which cap-subject beneficiaries are approved well in advance of the October 1 start date, thus assisting with workforce planning
– Cap-subject H-1B workers can know whether they have approved H-1B employment in advance of the October 1 start date
– Employers can know whether an H-1B change of employer case is approved before having to accrue onboarding costs
– H-1B workers can move to a new employer with some certainty that their H-1B change of employer case has been approved
– H-1B workers with expiring driver’s licenses can apply for driver’s license renewals from those states that make it difficult to obtain a driver’s license without an H-1B approval notice
– H-1B workers who have international travel plans can obtain an H-1B approval prior to departing the US, thus facilitating H-1B visa processing and re-entry into the US
For more information on how the premium processing service may be utilized, please contact a member of our team at
PwC Law LLP.