U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced Monday that starting tomorrow, March 12, 2019, it will resume premium processing for all H-1B petitions.

Key points:

  • As of March 12, employers may request premium processing for all H-1B petitions. The USCIS announcement covers “all H-1B petitions” and should therefore apply to upcoming FY2020 H-1B cap filings.
  • If a Request for Evidence (RFE) was issued for a pending H-1B petition, the responses to the RFE should be included in the request for premium processing.
  • If an H-1B petition was transferred to a different service center from where it was originally sent, the premium processing request along with the transfer notice should be sent to the service center to which the case was transferred.

Background: Premium processing allows petitioners to request faster service for an additional government fee. USCIS must respond within 15 days or refund the fee. USCIS suspended premium processing for H-1B cap cases just before fiscal year 2019 cap season opened in April 2018. In August 2018, the agency expanded the suspension to encompass nearly all H-1B petitions. On Jan. 28, 2019, USCIS lifted the suspension on premium processing for FY2019 H-1B cap subject-petitions only. On Feb. 19, 2019, the agency lifted the suspension on non-cap H-1B petitions filed before Dec. 22, 2018. The agency is now lifting the suspension for all H-1B cases.

BAL Analysis: The resumption of premium processing is good news for companies as it appears at this time that premium processing will be available for H-1B cap-subject petitions filed when cap season opens April 1. The number of filings is expected to be high again this season and the numerical caps are likely to be reached in the first week of filing. Employers are encouraged to work with their BAL professional to ensure that cases requiring premium processing are identified and requests are prepared in time for filing season.

This alert has been provided by the BAL U.S. Practice group. For additional information, please contact berryapplemanleiden@bal.com.

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