H-1B Premium Processing Suspended

On March 20, 2020, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, USCIS announced that it is temporarily suspending premium processing service for all I-129s (Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker) and I-140s (Immigrant Petition for Alien Workers) until further notice.

As of March 20, USCIS will not accept new requests for premium processing. It will continue to process any petition with a previously accepted I-907 (Request for Premium Processing Service) in agreement with premium processing service criteria. Petitioners who have already filed a Form I-129 or a Form I-140 using premium processing and who receive no agency action within 15 calendar days will receive a refund. For premium processing requests that were mailed before March 20 but not yet accepted, USCIS will reject the I-907 and return the $1,440 filing fee.

Included in the suspension are premium processing requests for all H-1B petitions, including H-1B cap-subject petitions for FY 2021, petitions from previous fiscal years, and all H-1B petitions that are exempt from the cap. This announcement from March 20 expands on and supersedes a USCIS announcement from March 16, 2020, regarding the temporary suspension of premium processing for FY 2021 cap-subject H-1B petitions only. Petitioners filing these petitions will not be able to request premium processing. Until premium processing resumes for FY 2021 cap-subject H-1B petitions, USCIS will reject Form I-907s filed alongside a cap-subject H-1B Form I-129.

When premium processing begins again, it will roll out in a two-phased approach so that the USCIS can manage requests during the FY 2021 cap season. The first phase will deal with FY 2021 cap-subject H-1B petitions requesting a change from F-1 nonimmigrant status, including those who qualify for the master’s degree exemption. The second phase will deal with all other FY 2021 cap-subject petitions.

The USCIS website also cautions to expect a delay in data entry and generation of receipt notices for FY 2021 H-1B cap-subject petitions until at least May 1, 2020.

USCIS has not yet determined but will announce a confirmed date for resuming premium processing services.

The suspension includes petitions filed in these categories:

  • I-129: E-1, E-2, H-1B, H-2B, H-3, L-1A, L-1B, LZ, O-1, O-2, P-1, P-1S, P-2, P-2S, P-3, P-3S, Q-1, R-1, TN-1, and TN-2
  • I-140: EB-1, EB-2, and EB-3

During the suspension period, petitioners may still submit requests to expedite their petition if it meets one of the following criteria:

  • Heavy financial loss to a person or company, provided that the need for urgent action is not due to the petition or applicant’s failure to file the request or respond to a request for additional evidence within a reasonable time frame
  • Urgent humanitarian reasons
  • Compelling U.S. government interests (like cases for the Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security, public safety, or national security interests
  • Clear USCIS error

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