USCIS announced today that it will be extending the previously-announced suspension of premium processing services for cap-subject H-1B petitions, which was initially expected to end on September 10. Furthermore, effective September 11, it is expanding the suspension of premium processing to include portability (i.e. change of employer) petitions and amendments of existing petitions. The only H-1B petitions which will remain eligible for premium processing after September 11 will be extension petitions (without material changes) and petitions filed by cap-exempt employers or for employment at a cap-exempt institution.
USCIS indicates that the expanded suspension is expected to last until February 19, 2019. This is not a definitive date, however; the agency will make an announcement when it intends to resume premium processing service for these cases.
Portability petitions and amendment requests filed via premium processing prior to September 11 will continue to be adjudicated, though USCIS notes that the premium processing fee will be refunded if the petition is not adjudicated within the requisite 15 calendar days.
While premium processing is suspended for these case types, USCIS has confirmed that petitioners may submit a request to expedite an H-1B petition if they meet the criteria. Expedite requests are discretionary and are reviewed on a case-by-case basis.
RSST attorneys will work closely with our clients to develop a strategy for handling this suspension, particularly with regard to portability and cap-subject petitions. This analysis will include consideration of the new USCIS RFE policy discussed in our previous news flash, which also takes effect on September 11. Should you have any questions about these changes, please contact the attorney with whom you work.