USCIS announced to temporarily suspend premium processing (Form I-907) services for all H-1B petitions filed on or after April 3rd, 2017. This suspension may last for up to 6 months. We discuss below its effect on various petitions.

H-1B CAP 2018: All the H-1B petitions, both the regular and master’s advanced degree exemption for the Fiscal Year 2018 cannot be filed under the premium processing this year. The suspension also applies to petitions that are CAP exempt.

F-1 students with OPT: The Premium Processing suspension will impact students who qualify for CAP gap and are allowed to stay in US while their H-1B petitions are pending or approved and the start date is yet to begin.

H-1B Extension:  The H-1B extension applications should be submitted 180 days before the expiration of the H-1B visa. Once submitted, the employee can work for up to 240 days from the date the H-1B status expires. But an employee making any travel plans will require a new H-1B visa stamped for him/her to return to the country.

H-1B Transfer: If the employee wishes to change the employer, he can do so once the new employer files the petition and is received by the USCIS. The employee can work with the new employer once USCIS issues the receipt notice. But if the petitioner is H-1B CAP-exempt, he/she cannot join until the petition is adjudicated completely, along with any request for evidence.

USCIS Expedite category: During the period of suspension of premium processing, USCIS may expedite a petition or application if it meets one or more of the following criteria: severe financial loss to company or person, emergency situation, humanitarian reasons, nonprofit organization in furtherance of cultural and social interests of the US, Department of Defense or national interest situation, USCIS error or compelling interest of USCIS. The burden is on the applicant or the petitioner to demonstrate that one or more of the criteria are met.

We suggest our readers to take advantage of the premium processing now and file their petitions such as an H-1B extension or a transfer before April 3rd, 2017. We are hopeful that USCIS will resume the process after 6 months and clear up the backlog during this time.