In a surprise announcement on March 3, 2017, USCIS advised that it will suspend its premium processing service for all H-1B petitions starting April 3, 2017. April 3, 2017 is the earliest date that U.S. employers can file cap subject H-1B petitions for FY 2018, which begins on October 1, 2017. The suspension applies to both cap subject and cap exempt H-1B petitions. USCIS’ premium processing program offers H-1B employers the option of having a 15 calendar day case adjudication for payment of a $1,225.00 fee. No other nonimmigrant classification eligible to use the premium processing service is affected by this suspension.
U.S. employers can still request and USCIS will continue to accept requests to expedite H-1B cases based on severe financial loss to a company or a person, emergency situations, humanitarian reasons, or other reasons. In practice, though, USCIS approves only a small number of such requests.
USCIS advised that the goal of its H-1B premium processing suspension is to permit the agency to reduce H-1B processing times for long pending H-1B cases and to focus USCIS’ resources on H-1B petitions involving extension of status that have been pending nearly 240 days, the time period when interim employment authorization ends.
USCIS indicated that the H-1B premium processing suspension may last up to 6 months and that the agency would make an announcement when H-1B premium processing will resume.