U.S. Alert – USCIS TO RESUME H-1B CAP PREMIUM PROCESSING

USCIS TO RESUME H-1B CAP PREMIUM PROCESSING

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has just announced that it will resume premium processing for H-1B cap petitions for fiscal year 2019 on Monday, January 28.  In August 2018, USCIS announced that it would suspend premium processing of cap-subject H-1B petitions until February 2019, due to steadily increasing processing times and the high number of such petitions.[1] The resumption of premium processing also includes advanced degree exemption petitions. However, the suspension remains effective for other H-1B petition categories for the time being.

Premium processing is a service offered by the USCIS that guarantees a processing time of 15 days. The USCIS will refund a portion of the premium processing fee if it has not completed processing in that time. Critics have argued that the premium processing suspension has a detrimental impact on the H-1B program, including reducing job portability for H-1B holders. As one leading immigration attorney has described it: “The combination of increased denials, long waits and an extended suspension of premium processing has chilled H-1b visa holders transferring from one employer to other.”[2] The resumption of premium processing should ultimately make it easier for H-1B holder to transfer to new employers in the near future.

The USCIS advises that petitioners who have been issued Requests for Evidence (RFEs) for pending 2019 cap petition include their RFE response with premium processing requests.

[1] https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/hr-topics/talent-acquisition/pages/uscis-h1b-premium-processing-suspended-february-2019.aspx

[2] https://www.forbes.com/sites/stuartanderson/2018/12/17/uscis-policies-harming-labor-mobility-of-h-1b-professionals/#710ca03361f7



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