USCIS Temporarily Suspends H-1B Premium Processing
United States Immigration and Citizenship Services (USCIS) announced on Friday, March 3, 2017 that it will temporarily suspend premium processing for all H-1B petitions filed with USCIS on or after April 3, 2017. Premium processing is a USCIS program that provides for an expedited 15-day adjudication for an additional $1,225 fee. USCIS has indicated that this suspension may last up to six months. According to USCIS, this temporary suspension will help them reduce overall H-1B processing times, which are currently running close to 9 months. To our knowledge, this temporary suspension is unrelated to any recently announced Executive Orders.
The full text of this USCIS memo can be found here: https://www.uscis.gov/news/alerts/uscis-will-temporarily-suspend-premium-processing-all-h-1b-petitions.
What The Suspension of Premium Processing Means:
- If an H-1B petition is received by USCIS on or after April 3, 2017, the petition will undergo regular processing, which is currently taking 6-9 months to be processed.
- For Extension cases: current UCB H-1B employees extending status will continue to be eligible for employment up to 240 days beyond their current expiration date, as long as the extension petition is received by USCIS in a timely manner (by the current expiration date), even if the extension is not yet approved. However, not receiving the approval may affect the H-1B employee’s ability to travel internationally and apply for, or renew a California’s driver’s license.
- For Change of Employer cases: H-1B visa holders transferring from another H-1B employer to UCB will also continue to be eligible to begin employment as long as the petition is received by USCIS in a timely manner, even if the petition is not yet approved. However, not receiving the approval may affect the H-1B employee’s ability to travel internationally and apply for, or renew a California’s driver’s license.
- For Change of Status cases: If the H-1B petition is received by USCIS by the current visa status end date, the H-1B applicant can legally remain in the U.S., but must stop working when current employment authorization ends, and can only resume employment when the petition is approved. The suspension of premium processing could cause a gap in employment.
- For New Consular cases (applicant is outside of the U.S.): The H-1B applicant can only travel to the U.S. and begin employment after the petition is approved. The suspension of premium processing could delay the start of employment.
How To Request Premium Processing Before the April 3, 2017 Effective Date:
Based on anticipated workload, BIO will make every effort to timely submit petitions to USCIS prior to the April 3, 2017 effective date if:
BIO will work on requests in the order it was submitted in ISD.
- A complete H-1B request is submitted to BIO in ISD by 5 pm on Monday, March 13, 2017.
- All filing checks are dropped off at BIO as soon as possible, but no later than 4 pm on Monday, March 27, 2017.
Please note that the premium processing fee will be refunded by USCIS if no adjudication action has been taken on the case within 15 days.
We strongly recommend that ALL H-1B requests, independent of the temporary suspension of premium processing on or after April 3, be submitted to BIO as early as possible, up to 6 months before the requested start date.
In the past, USCIS practice has allowed petitioners to request expedited processing (in the absence of Premium Processing) if they meet certain exceptional criteria, however, such requests are rarely granted.
Please email H1B@Berkeley.edu