The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS), the agency tasked with managing a range of immigration benefits including various applications for employment authorization and H-1B status, announced on Friday, March 3, 2017, that the Premium Processing service for H-1B petitions will be suspended as of April 3, 2017. The suspension may remain in place for six (6) months. Premium Processing is available for a substantial fee and requires USCIS to adjudicate an H-1B petition in no more than fifteen (15) business days from receipt of the petition. Given current adjudication times of approximately eight (8) months for petitions filed under the standard process, Premium Processing is used widely.
OIA is working closely with departments and offices across the University to ascertain the most timely filing of H-1B petitions and, wherever possible, to file petitions requiring Premium Processing no later than March 30, 2017. If you believe you may be affected by the suspension of the Premium Processing service, we ask you to communicate with the Human Resources Professional in your department. OIA is in close contact with our Human Resources colleagues and this will be the most effective approach for you to get answers to your questions.
As additional information is received from USCIS, we will post updates to this site. It may help to know that the suspension of the Premium Processing service is in no way connected to the the Executive Order on immigration that was just issues, nor is it indicative of the future of H-1B status. USCIS does on occasion suspend an element of service to reduce backlogs in an area of high demand. At the beginning of April, USCIS will receive a far larger number of H-1B petitions than can be adjudicated, and while the suspension of Premium Processing is momentarily challenging, it does not signal a change in law or regulations. Please don’t hesitate to be in touch if we can provide any additional information or support.