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USCIS Resumes Premium Processing for Some Categories of Applicants Seeking H-1B Visas

On September 18, 2017, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) resumed premium processing for all H-1B visa petitions subject to the Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 cap, five months after it was suspended temporarily in order to handle the huge rush of petitions that were being filed. The FY 2018 cap has been set at 65,000 visas. Premium processing for the annual 20,000 additional petitions that are set aside for workers with a U.S. master’s degree or higher educational degree has also resumed.

H-1B visas provide skilled workers for a wide range of specialty occupations, including information technology, academic research, physical therapy and accounting. When a petitioner requests the agency’s premium processing service by filing Form I-907, USCIS guarantees a 15-day processing time. USCIS will refund the petitioner’s premium processing service fee and continue with expedited processing of the application if the application is not processed within 15- calendar days. This service is only available for pending petitions, not new submissions, since USCIS received enough petitions in April to meet the FY 2018 cap.

USCIS previously resumed premium processing H-1B petitions filed on behalf of physicians under the Conrad 30 waiver program, as well as interested government agency waivers and for certain H-1B petitions that are not subject to the cap. Premium processing remains temporarily suspended for all other H-1B petitions, such as extensions of stay or transfers. USCIS stated that it plans to resume premium processing for all other remaining H-1B petitions not subject to the FY 2018 cap, as agency workloads permit. However, remaining petitioners may submit a request to expedite their application if they meet certain USCIS criteria. USCIS will review all expedite requests on a case-by-case basis, and requests are granted at the discretion of office leadership.