H-1B Visa Filing and Premium Processing Update

February 1, 2018 Chelsea Iversen

Uncertainty around H-1B visa filing processes have arisen thanks to questions surrounding the H-1B visa process over the last year. A recent update from USCIS to the American Immigration Lawyers Association will put some employers’ minds at ease. The agency specified that there would likely be no procedural changes to the processes of filing for this year’s H-1B visa cap season.

This assurance is welcome, but unanticipated last-minute changes could still affect the filing process, and a short halt in premium processing is still a possibility. Here’s a premium processing update for employers:

Premium processing update indicates possible brief suspension

Despite the anticipation of consistent procedures this year, H-1B visa petitioners could see a change in timeline if they are applying with premium processing. According to this recent H-1B visa filing update from USCIS, there may be a short suspension of premium processing for cap-subject H-1B visa petitions. Non-cap H-1B visa petitions like visa extensions and employer changes, however, shouldn’t anticipate any such suspension.

What is premium processing?

Prior to last year, the standard process was to accept premium processing requests and complete them within 15 days of the cap close. According to USCIS, if there is a suspension for cap-subject petitions, petitioners shouldn’t have to wait as long.

Here’s your H-1B cap season survival guide with more information on premium processing, important dates and best practices.

Premium processing delays last year

Last year, USCIS suspended premium processing in April for all H-1B visa applications for a period of six months in order to help staff get through the visa backlog for regular H-1B cases.

In June, USCIS announced that premium processing would resume for petitions filed for medical doctors under the Conrad 30 Waiver program. In July, USCIS resumed premium processing for certain cap-exempt petitions. In September 2017, USCIS resumed premium processing for all pending cap-subject H-1B petitions. And in October, six months after the initial suspension, USCIS resumed premium processing for all H-1B petitions, including extensions.

Are you ready for this year’s H-1B cap season? Find out what you need to know in our 1-hour webinar replay, Preparing for the H-1B Lottery: Applications to RFEs.

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