USCIS recently announced that the agency will temporarily suspend premium processing for all H-1B petitions beginning on April 3, 2017. USCIS indicates the purpose of the suspension is to process H-1B petitions that have been pending for many months, including in particular those approaching the 240-day automatic extension limitation, which would thereby reduce overall H-1B processing times. Please find below a list of frequently asked questions with our insights.
1. What is the effective date of the suspension?
The premium processing suspension is effective on April 3, 2017. The last day that USCIS will accept H-1B petitions filed with premium processing is Friday, March 31, 2017.
2. How long will the suspension last?
USCIS states that the suspension may last up to six months. USCIS imposed a similar suspension in the past and lifted the suspension early.
3. Does the suspension apply only to H-1Bs or other visa categories?
The suspension is limited to H-1B petitions only. This includes H-1B petitions seeking to extend status, amend status, change status, consular process, or change employers.
4. Can H-1B petitions be filed with premium processing in the month of March? If so, will USCIS continue to honor premium processing cases if they are still pending beyond April 3rd?
Yes, USCIS will accept an H-1B petition filed with premium processing on or before Friday, March 31, 2017. We anticipate that any H-1B petition filed with premium processing that is receipted on or before March 31st will receive the full benefit of premium processing, even if the adjudication continues beyond April 3rd. However, based on the posted USCIS announcement, the agency has discretion to refund premium processing fees if the agency has not taken adjudicative action on the case within the 15-calendar-day premium processing period.