Beginning September 11, 2018, USCIS has extended and expanded suspension of premium processing for certain H-1B petitions. The suspension will affect all H-1B petitions filed at the Vermont Service Center and California Service Center. USCIS will continue to accept premium processing filed for H-1B CAP exempt petitions; petitions requesting “Continuation of previously approved employment without change with the same employer”; and any other nonimmigrant classification mentioned on Form I-129. USCIS reason this suspension so it can process long-pending petitions, be responsive to time sensitive start dates and prioritize adjudications of petitions that are nearing 240 day mark. The suspension will continue up to February 19, 2019.
The premium processing suspension will have harsher consequences on the H-1B program. The H-1B CAP applicants picked up in the lottery for the fiscal year 2019 will have to wait till their H-1B is approved, unless they receive an approval on or prior to October 1, 2018. Also, the students working with the employer under CAP GAP OPT cannot continue to work beyond October 1, 2018 unless their petition for an extension and change of status request from F1 to H-1B is approved on or before October 1, 2018. Further, we routinely file H-1B amendment petitions for the beneficiaries whose worksite location changes. With the absence of premium processing, the beneficiary cannot join the new location till the approval comes in. This will discourage opportunities for both the employer from the business standpoint and the beneficiary from the opportunity standpoint. Further, the beneficiary can change to the new employer after timely and proper filing of the H-1B petition. But with the new Policy Memorandum in execution from September 11, 2018, the adjudicators can deny the application or petition without first issuing request for Evidence or Notice of Intent to Deny. The beneficiaries are therefore dismayed from changing the employer. They may not take the risk of leaving the job and join a new employer with out first getting an approval. Hence, the suspension of premium processing along with the new Policy Memorandum will make matters bad to worst.
We request our readers to be cautious and be diligent with their legal status.