USCIS Reinstates Premium Processing for Some H-1B Petitions
What is Premium Processing?
For an additional fee of $1,225, the premium processing service guarantees adjudication and a decision—whether approval, denial, or request for additional evidence (RFE)—within 15 calendar days of receiving a petition. Requests for the expedited service are filed using Form I-907, either along with the relevant petition or after one has been pending.
The H-1B applications now permitted to opt for premium processing include those for which the petitioning employer is an institution of higher education; a nonprofit related to or affiliated with an institution of higher education; a nonprofit research or governmental research organization; or one for which the employer is otherwise a qualifying cap-exempt institution, organization, or entity.
Such petitions are exempted from the annual quota, or cap, which refers to the numerical limits Congress has placed on the H-1B category. Each fiscal year, USCIS is authorized to award a maximum of 65,000 H-1B visas, plus an additional 20,000 H-1Bs for beneficiaries who have at least a master’s degree from a U.S. college or university. (For guidance on which employers are not counted in the cap, refer to our analysis here.)
While premium processing remains unavailable to all other H-1B petitions, including those subject to the cap, USCIS has stated its goal of resuming the service for all H-1B applications “as workloads permit.”
For the last several years, the statutory limits and popularity of the H-1B category have combined to create a filing season characterized by high demand and low supply. The number of H-1B petitions filed in fiscal year 2018 alone, for instance, amounted to more than twice the total number available. As a result, tens of thousands of qualified alien workers are unable to contribute to the businesses of their prospective U.S. employers—and to the economy at large.
And given the volume of petitions received, compared to the two-week turnaround with premium processing, regular adjudication of H-1B applications can take weeks, if not months.
Premium Processing Developments
The resumption in expedited service is the second the agency has announced in the last month. In late June, USCIS informed stakeholders that H-1B petitions for physicians applying under the Conrad 30 Waiver Program could once again be filed with premium processing. As we informed our readers earlier this spring, USCIS suspended premium processing for all H-1B petitions, initially forecasting the hiatus to temporarily last for up to six months.
Our Firm is Here to Help
Over the past two decades, Zhang & Associates has successfully represented thousands of clients applying for H-1B visas, including both cap-subject and cap-exempt petitioners. If you are a prospective alien beneficiary or petitioning U.S. employer contemplating your H-1B or other nonimmigrant visa options, we invite you to click here to contact us today for a free evaluation of your potential case.
Former U.S. Consular officer, Attorney Sechyi Laiu joined Zhang & Associates, P.C. on June 26, 2017
At Zhang & Associates, P.C., Attorney Laiu specializes on Consular Processing cases and business development. Attorney Laiu also focuses on TN visas, E visas, CBP administrative proceedings (monetary confiscation, deferred inspection), and overseas financial compliance.
Prior to joining Zhang & Associates, P.C., Attorney Laiu worked for the U.S. Department of State as a Chinese and Portuguese speaking diplomat. As a consular-coned officer who served in Vancouver (Canada), Shenyang (P.R. China), and Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Attorney Laiu processed over 30,000 visa cases and worked in every section of Consular Affairs overseas (Fraud Prevention Unit, Immigrant Visas, Non-Immigrant Visas, and American Citizen Services).
He will use his experience and expertise to deliver the highest quality of service to our clients.
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