U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that beginning Tuesday, Feb. 19, it will resume premium processing for all H-1B petitions filed on or before Dec. 21, 2018.

Key points:

  • H-1B petitioners who filed on or before Dec. 21, 2018 may now request premium processing. The request must be sent to the service center handling the petition. If the case was transferred to a different service center than where it was filed, the transfer notice should be included with the premium processing request.
  • If the petition was subject to a request for evidence (RFE), the RFE responses should be included with the premium processing request.
  • Premium processing resumed as of Jan. 28, 2019 on H-1B cap-subject petitions filed in April 2018. The suspension of premium processing remains in effect for other H-1B petitions to which the suspension applied that were filed on or after Dec. 22, 2018.

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. The agency is now lifting the suspension of non-cap H-1B petitions filed before Dec. 22, 2018.

BAL Analysis: Petitioners who filed H-1B petitions before Dec. 22, 2018 should identify cases that require expedited service and request premium processing as soon as possible. To avoid delays, petitioners should include RFE responses and the transfer notice (if applicable); if the premium processing request for a transferred case sent to the wrong service center, USCIS will forward the request to the correct center but the 15-day clock will only start on the date the petition is received by the correct service center.

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

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