USCIS Clarifies Guidance Concerning Suspension of Premium Processing for H-1B Extension Petitions

On May 22, 2015, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) updated its May 19 alert concerning the suspension of premium processing for any H-1B extension petitions. The original guidance created much confusion as to what kinds of cases were subject to the suspension. Of particular concern was whether H-1B change-of-employer petitions would be impacted by the suspension. In the updated guidance, USCIS confirms that premium processing is not available to any cases requesting an extension of stay, including petitions for cap-exempt organizations or change-of-employer applications.

As a recap, starting May 26, 2015, USCIS will temporarily suspend premium processing for all H-1B extension of stay petitions until July 27, 2015. During this time frame, petitioners will not be able to file Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing Service, for a Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, requesting an extension of the stay for an H-1B nonimmigrant.

USCIS will continue to premium process H-1B extension of stay petitions filed with Form I-907 premium requests prior to May 26, 2015.

USCIS will refund the premium processing fee if:

  • A petitioner filed H-1B petitions prior to May 26, 2015, using the premium processing service, and
  • USCIS did not act on the case within the 15-calendar-day period.

Premium Processing Remains Available for Certain H-1B Petitions

Premium processing remains available for:

  • Form I-129 H-1B petitions subject to the H-1B cap and cap exempt petitions, as long as the petition is requesting:
    • A change of nonimmigrant status, or
    • Consular notification;
  • Form I-129 H-1B petitions filed on behalf of individuals who already have H-1B nonimmigrant status, as long as the petition is requesting:
    • Consular notification, or
    • An amendment of a previously approved petition that does not include a request for an extension of stay; and
  • All Form I-129 H-1B1 petitions.

Why USCIS is Suspending Premium Processing

This temporary suspension will allow USCIS to implement the Employment Authorization for Certain H-4 Spouses final rule in a timely manner and adjudicate applications for employment authorization filed by H-4 nonimmigrants under the new regulations. USCIS anticipates receiving an extremely high volume of Form I-765 applications once the H-4 final rule becomes effective on May 26, 2015, and needs to temporarily suspend premium processing to ensure that it can provide good customer service to both H-1B petitioners and H-4 applicants.

USCIS will monitor its workloads closely and may resume accepting premium processing requests before July 27, 2015, if it determines that it can once again provide customers with the level of service offered with premium processing.

Expedited Processing

Petitioners may request expedited processing for their H-1B extension of stay petition during the temporary suspension of premium processing. USCIS will review all expedite requests on a case-by-case basis and grant the requests at the discretion of the Director.