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USCIS Provides Clarification on Suspension of Premium Processing for H-1B Extension Petitions

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USCIS Provides Clarification on Suspension of Premium Processing for H-1B Extension Petitions

May 22, 2015 | Written by Laura J. Mazel

The government today published an updated news alert which provides little solace to anxious employers and employees who have been counting on speedier approvals.  As we reported earlier this week, the USCIS startled the business community when it announced May 19 that it was suspending premium processing of H-1B extension petitions starting May 26 and lasting until July 27 in order to be able to adjudicate an expected flood of H-4 EAD applications.  Historically, each late spring, regular H-1B processing typically slows down to a snail’s pace of over 3 months, as the government deals with adjudicating Fiscal Year H-1B cases selected by the lottery for further processing.

Here’s what employers, H-1B employees or lateral H-1B candidates need to know:

  • The government may not even be able to complete processing of all H-1B extension petitions submitted by premium processing before May 26, in the 15 calendar day period.  The government promises it will refund the Premium Processing filing fee in such an event.
  • Premium Processing remains available for H-1B extension petitions that are seeking either a Change of nonimmigrant status or consular notification (which would require a trip outside the U.S. to activate H-1B status).
  • Premium Processing remains available for H-1B amendment petitions that are not seeking an extension of stay.
  • Premium Processing remains available for H-1B1 petitions (relating to Singaporean or Chilean nationals)

Note that the government states it will consider requests for expedited processing if extenuating circumstances exist, pointing employers and employees to its Expedite Criteria webpage.

Note also that the government says that it may resume accepting premium processing before July 27 if workloads permit.

We will continue to work with our clients on best strategies to deal with the government’s sudden announcement.

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