U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced today that it will begin premium processing for H-1B cap-subject petitions May 12.

Employers should expect to receive decisions on premium processed petitions by the end of May, regardless of the date on the receipt notice reflecting the date USCIS received the premium processing fee. Premium processing is an expedited service under which USCIS guarantees that it will issue an approval notice, request for evidence, or denial within 15 calendar days.

Regular petitions that did not request premium processing will take longer to process, and employers can expect to wait until summer to receive decisions in those cases.

Background: USCIS received 236,000 H-1B cap-subject petitions in the first five business days of the filing period, April 1-7. The agency conducted a lottery April 9 to select petitions for adjudication under the 85,000 numerical caps, and has begun issuing receipt notices for the petitions that were selected and returning those that were not.

BAL Analysis: The May 12 start date for premium processing is consistent with the agency’s projection last month that it would begin premium processing no later than May 16. USCIS has recently taken steps to redistribute resources among service centers to handle the workload, and BAL expects the agency to be on track in completing premium processing cases within the 15-day time frame. Employers should expect to receive decisions by the end of May in cases submitted with premium processing requests.

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

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