United States: USCIS Resume Premium Processing for FY 2018 H-1B Cap Cases

• Employers may upgrade pending H-1B cap cases by submitting USCIS Form I-907 and the $1,225 premium processing fee. • Premium processing remains suspended for H-1B extensions and amendments until further notice.

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Sep 19, 2017
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USCIS announced today that it will lift a suspension on premium processing for pending FY 2018 H-1B cap cases.  H-1B premium processing had been suspended since April 3, 2017, with some exceptions for cases filed by cap-exempt employers and those filed on behalf of physicians working in underserved areas.  It remains suspended for H-1B extensions and amendments until further notice.

Upgrading Cap Cases to Premium Processing
Employers with pending FY 2018 H-1B cap cases can request upgrades to premium processing by filing Form I-907 and submitting the $1,225 premium processing fee for each case. USCIS will take action on the case by approving, denying or issuing a request for evidence within 15 calendar days, or it will refund the upgrade fee.

Impact on H-1B Extensions and Amendments
In today's announcement, USCIS indicated that it would resume premium processing for extensions, amendments and other non-cap H-1B cases when its workload decreases. Though USCIS initially indicated that the premium suspension would be lifted by October 3, 2017, today's announcement suggests that the suspension could remain in place beyond that date for extensions and amendments. As a reminder, H-1B employees with a timely-filed extension of stay receive up to 240 days of additional work authorization beyond their current expiration date while their extension remains pending.  

In urgent situations, it remains possible to request expedited processing.  However, expedites are granted at USCIS's discretion only and are issued very rarely - for emergencies, humanitarian situations, in cases of severe financial loss to the employer or foreign national and a few other very limited circumstances.

What This Means for Employers and Foreign Nationals
As Fragomen has reported, H-1B cap petitions have been under greater scrutiny and subject to longer processing times this year, prompting concerns that many sponsored workers would not be able to begin H-1B cap employment as planned on October 1.  

The resumption of premium service is likely to result in a surge of upgrade filings.  Though some upgraded petitions may be approved in time for early October employment start dates, timely approval is not guaranteed.

This alert is for informational purposes only. If you have any questions, please contact the immigration professional with whom you work at Fragomen.

© 2017 Fragomen, Del Rey, Bernsen & Loewy, LLP, Fragomen Global LLP and affiliates. All Rights Reserved.

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