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Citing Major Backlogs, USCIS Extends and Expands Suspension of H-1B Premium Processing

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recently announced that it will be expanding and extending the temporary suspension of H-1B premium processing. According to USCIS, these suspensions will continue until February 19, 2019. This is an effort to clear the backlog of H-1B visas in the application system. All Request for Premium Processing Service forms will be rejected and if a petitioner submits a combined check for the premium processing and H-1B fees, both forms will be rejected. 
Previously, the suspension was expected to last until September 10, 2018, but will now stay in effect until February of 2019. This suspension applies to all H-1B petitions filed at the Vermont and California Service Centers. The premium processing fee will be refunded if premium processing was requested before September 11, 2018, and USCIS did not take adjudicative action on the case within the 15 calendar-day processing period. 
It is important to note that there are some exceptions to this expansion. The suspension does not apply to cap-exempt petitions filed exclusively at the California Service center because the employer is cap exempt or because the beneficiary will be employed at a qualifying cap exempt institution, entity or organization. In addition, petitions filed exclusively at Nebraska Service Center by an employer requesting a continuance of previously approved employment with a concurrent request to notify the office in Part 4 so each beneficiary can obtain a visa or be admitted or extend the stay of each beneficiary because the beneficiary now holds this status are also exempt. These suspensions do not apply to any other nonimmigrant classifications. 
While premium processing is suspended, petitioners have the option to request to expedite a H-1B petition. In order to do so, they must meet certain criteria. These requests are reviewed on a case-by-case basis and are discretionary.
If you have questions regarding H-1B visas or other immigration concerns, please contact Berardi Immigration Law today to speak with an attorney!