On September 18, 2017, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that it has resumed premium processing for all H-1B visa petitions selected under the Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 cap. Likewise, premium processing has also resumed for the annual 20,000 petitions that are set aside for hiring workers with a U.S. master’s degree or higher (master’s cap).
Under premium processing, USCIS guarantees a 15-calendar day processing time. If this 15-calendar day processing time is not met, USCIS refunds the petitioner’s premium processing service fee and continues with the expedited processing of the petition.
This reinstatement of premium processing only applies to pending cap-subject petitions for FY 2018, certain H-1B petitions filed on behalf of physicians under the Conrad 30 waiver program, and interested government agency waivers for certain H-1B petitions not subject to the cap. Other H-1B petitions, such as extensions of stay, continue to have suspended premium processing until further notice.
However, petitioners may submit a request to expedite their application if they meet one or more of the following criteria from USCIS:
- Severe financial loss to company or person;
- Emergency situation;
- Humanitarian reasons;
- Nonprofit organization whose request is in furtherance of the cultural and social interests of the United States;
- Department of Defense or national interest situation (These particular expedite requests must come from an official U.S. government entity and state that delay will be detrimental to the government.);
- USCIS error; or
- Compelling interest of USCIS.
Once agency workloads permit, USCIS plans to resume premium processing for all the remaining types of petitions. Our offices will keep you updated on any further announcements from USCIS regarding this matter.