In an announcement dated March 20, 2018, and less than 2 weeks before the major FY2019 H-1B filing season begins on April 2, 2018, USCIS has announced that it is suspending H-1B premium processing for cap subject H-1B filings for FY2019. This is the second H-1B season in a row where USCIS has suspended its 15 calendar day adjudication service.
USCIS provides as its reasons for the suspension its desire to process long-pending petitions and to a surge in premium processing requests in past years. It does so at a loss of millions of dollars in lost revenue from H-1B employers, many thousands of whom are willing to pay the $1,225.00 premium processing fee to process each of their petitions.
The other consequence of the unavailability of H-1B premium processing is the uncertainty its loss generates to U.S. employers who file H-1B petitions. The vast majority of such employers are willing to pay for this service to know that a valued temporary worker will be available to it in the fall, at great expenses to each employer in high filing fees and in attorneys fees, not even counting the significant premium processing fee. Instead, all U.S. H-1B cap subject U.S. employers must wait for many months for USCIS to decide each petition.
During fiscal year 2018’s H-1B season, USCIS issued a large number of Requests for Evidence based on grounds never questioned in large numbers before. We will see if USCIS follows the same pattern this year, first by suspending premium processing, and then followed by issuing a new round of Requests for Evidence on new grounds never questioned en masse before.