USCIS Announces Extension and Expansion of the Suspension of H-1B Premium Processing and an Increase in the Premium Processing Filing Fee
On August 29, 2018, the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (“USCIS”) announced that it was extending and expanding its suspension of premium processing services so that it will affect many more H-1B filings. On March 20, 2018 USCIS suspended premium processing service for all cap-subject H-1B filings until September 10, 2018. This August 29, 2018 announcement extends the moratorium on premium processing for cap-subject H-1B petitions until February 19, 2019.
Furthermore, the new announcement also suspends premium processing for most other H-1B filings (with two exceptions) beginning on September 11, 2018 until February 19, 2019. The only two types of H-1B filings that will be eligible to utilize premium processing during this period will be:
- H-1B petitions filed by cap-exempt employers (e.g. colleges or universities, or nonprofits affiliated with them) with the California Service Center; and
- H-1B petitions where petitioner is requesting continuation of previously approved employment with the same employer without change, requesting either an extension of stay or consular notification, and filing the petition with the Nebraska Service Center.
This additional suspension will primarily affect H-1B visa petitions filed by employers seeking to transfer H-1B sponsorship for a new employee from their prior H-1B sponsor. The press release notes that USCIS will continue to accept requests for expedited processing based on merit. Additionally, premium processing for other Form I-129 and Form I-140 based filings will be unaffected.
While USCIS calls this a “suspension” until February 19, 2019, the announcement clearly reserves the right of the USCIS to impose further suspensions on the use of premium processing after that date.
Finally, on August 31, 2018, USCIS announced that effective October 1, 2018 premium processing filing fees for all petition-types will increase to $1,410 from the current $1,225. In making this announcement, USCIS noted that premium processing fees had not been adjusted since 2010 and that it will use the increased fee to hire additional staff and improve its information technology systems.
Please contact any of the member of the legal team at Parker Gallini LLP if you have any questions about the new H-1B visas that are becoming available.