Earlier this year, USCIS announced a temporary suspension of premium processing for most H-1B visa petitions, giving officials the opportunity to clear a growing backlog of applications. Originally, the suspension was projected to last until September, but last month USCIS officials decided to extend the suspension and expand the types of applications affected. The majority of visa petitions in this class will now be subject to standard processing and wait times, so it may be more important than ever to hire an experienced H-1B lawyer.
USCIS Extends & Expands Suspension of Premium Processing for Most H-1B Petitions
What Is Premium Processing?
Wait times for some employment-based visa classifications extend for months — time many petitioners can’t afford. For a fee, USCIS allows some petitioners to essentially skip to the front of the line, with guaranteed responses in 15 days. Unfortunately, according to government officials, the widespread use of premium processing has caused a backlog of cases.
Extended Suspension of Premium Processing
The suspension of premium processing is intended to provide USCIS officials with an opportunity to process outstanding applications submitted without the additional fee. At the moment, the suspension is expected to last until at least February 19, 2019, although the agency may decide to issue another extension.
More Applications Suspect to Suspension
As of September 11, all H-1B petitions subject to the annual caps submitted to the California or Vermont Service Centers are ineligible for premium processing, including most extensions for existing visas. Only the Nebraska field office will provide premium processing for H-1B visa applicants requesting continuation of their work authorization with no changes. This suspension does not apply to H-1B visa applicants exempt from the annual immigration caps.
Expedited Processing May Be Available
Although the guaranteed premium processing will be unavailable until the suspension is lifted, some applicants may qualify for expedited service. Your H-1B attorney will help determine whether you meet the criteria for expedited service and guide you through the application process.
As one of New York’s most respected immigration law firms, the H-1B lawyers at Berd & Klauss, PLLC have helped clients from across the world navigate the difficult, confusing process. They pride themselves on constantly updating their knowledge base and providing effective legal services based on the most recent changes to the law. Visit their website for a comprehensive look at their services, follow their Twitter for more immigration law updates, or call (212) 461-7152 to speak with an experienced H-1B lawyer today.