Starting April 3, 2017, the first day of H-1B cap filing season, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will temporarily suspend premium processing for all H-1B petitions. Premium processing requests received on or after April 3 will be rejected and USCIS will return any premium processing fees filed before April 3 if USCIS was unable to take action on the case within 15 days of receipt.

This suspension affects all H-1B petitions, including all those subject to and exempt from the cap and requests for extension of status or change of status. USCIS estimates the suspension may last up to six months and will notify the public prior to resuming premium processing of H-1B petitions.

Employers should therefore anticipate delays in the receiving of H-1B Receipt Notices for the FY 2018 Cap Season. Moreover, employers planning on filing premium processing requests for extensions of stay, changes of employer and changes of status should do so prior to April 3, 2017. While employment authorization is automatically extended for timely filed H-1B extensions for up to 240 days, it is important employers carefully track H-1B extensions to ensure individuals do not fall out of status.

While premium processing is suspended, petitioners may still submit requests to expedite H-1B petitions if they meet at least one of the expedite criteria such as severe financial loss to the company or individual, an emergency situation, humanitarian reasons, USCIS error or they can show a compelling interest. Please note that expedite requests are reviewed on a case-by-case basis and may be granted as the discretion of USCIS.

~Kelly A. Doolittle