US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) resumed premium processing on September 18, 2017, for H-1B visa petitions subject to the fiscal year (FY) 2018 annual quota (the “cap”), including both the overall quota of 65,000 and the 20,000 additional petitions applicable to workers with a US master’s degree or higher educational degree. USCIS has not yet resumed premium processing services for H-1B extensions. The agency indicated in its September 18 announcement that it “plans to resume premium processing for all other remaining H-1B petitions not subject to the FY 2018 cap, as agency workloads permit.”
In the interim, expedited consideration of H-1B petitions for which premium processing is not available may be sought if the petition meets specific agency criteria. USCIS will review expedite requests on a case-by-case basis, and “requests are granted at the discretion of the office leadership.”
Employers should be alert to potential further announcements regarding premium processing, including with regard to H-1B extensions, as October 3, 2017, approaches; when the program was suspended on April 3, 2017, the agency indicated it would consider resumption of premium processing for H-1Bs by October 3. (See our previous Legal Update.)
More information on USCIS premium processing is available on the government web site, at uscis.gov.