USCIS Resumes Expedited Processing for H-1B Visas

Roy Maurer By Roy Maurer September 19, 2017
USCIS Resumes Expedited Processing for H-1B Visas

Premium processing for all H-1B visa petitions subject to the fiscal year (FY) 2018 cap has now resumed, according to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). It had been suspended since April 3.

The fast-track processing will proceed for the 65,000 H-1B visas filed under the FY 2018 cap, as well as for the additional 20,000 H-1B visas that are made available for students who have obtained a U.S. master's degree or higher.

[SHRM members-only toolkit: Obtaining U.S. Employment Visas]

"Through premium processing, USCIS promises to adjudicate a case within 15 calendar days of the request for an extra fee of $1,225," said Julie Pearl, CEO and managing attorney of the Pearl Law Group, based in the San Francisco Bay area. Employers may now file premium processing requests on any of their pending H-1B cap cases "that were lucky enough to win the H-1B lottery in April 2017," she said.

Specifically, these are H-1B cap cases filed on April 1, 2017, for an Oct. 1, 2017, start date, explained Beth Carlson, an immigration attorney and counsel in the Minneapolis office of law firm Faegre Baker Daniels. Many cases are still pending a decision since the program was suspended.

Premium processing remains suspended for H-1B extensions, amended H-1B petitions and H-1B change-of-employer petitions, Carlson said. Premium processing had already been resumed for H-1B petitions filed by cap-exempt employers.

The agency said it plans to resume premium processing for all other H‑1B petitions as agency workloads permit. However, remaining petitioners may submit a request to expedite their application if they meet certain criteria.

"With the number of requests for evidence being issued by USCIS on H-1B cap cases, employers should strategically consider whether to file an upgrade to premium processing," Carlson said. "Although some cases will need the upgrade to premium processing for employees to have ongoing work authorization beyond October 1, other cases may not require work authorization as soon as October 1 and may benefit by USCIS not 'rushing' to issue an answer in 15 days."

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