The US Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) announced today, September 18, 2017, that it will again expand its resumption of premium processing for additional types of H-1B petitions.
Effective immediately, H-1B petitions subject to the Fiscal Year 2018 cap are eligible for premium processing. This includes petitions under the 65,000 cap and the 20,000 additional petitions for beneficiaries with a US master’s or higher degree. Readers may recall that the FY 2018 cap was reached in April 2017. Those pending filings that were selected in the H-1B lottery, which generally have October 1, 2017 start dates, are the ones that are included under this expanded resumption of premium processing. This is indeed welcome news for both the petitioning employers and beneficiaries who may now achieve decisions that could allow the H-1B employment to begin on or shortly after the anticipated start date.
Today’s expansion of premium processing is in addition to two prior resumptions of premium processing which included:
- H-1B petitioners who are exempt from the H-1B cap as:
- An institution of higher education,
- A nonprofit related to or affiliated with an institution of higher education, or
- A nonprofit research or governmental research organization.
- H-1B petitions that are exempt because the beneficiary will be employed at a qualifying cap-exempt institution, organization or entity.
- H-1B petitions for physicians under the Conrad 30 or an IGA (interested government agency) waiver program, and
For now, USCIS continues its temporary suspension of premium processing for all other H-1B petitions including but not limited to extensions of stay.
The Agency stated that it will continue to expand eligibility for premium processing for other types of H‑1B petitions as workloads permit. You may recall that when USCIS announced in March 2017 that is was suspending premium processing for H-1B petitions, the agency said that it expected to resume premium processing of H-1B petitions in general by early October 2017. This may yet be achieved.
In its announcement USCIS included a reminder that H-1B petitioners may request expedited processing based on specific criteria such as humanitarian need.
Until then, USCIS will continue to reject any Form I-907 Request for Premium Processing filed with non-eligible H-1B petitions.
Catherine Wadhwani is a partner in the immigration practice at Fox Rothschild LLP.