Starting September 11, 2018, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will be expanding the temporary suspension of premium processing (currently only applicable to cap-subject H-1B petitions) to include certain additional H-1B petitions. The premium processing suspension for the affected H-1B petitions is expected to last until February 19, 2019. The only H-1B petitions for which premium processing will remain available are the following: (1) cap-exempt petitions filed with the California Service Center because the employer is cap-exempt or because the beneficiary will be employed at a qualifying cap-exempt institution, and, (2) petitions filed exclusively with the Nebraska Service Center by an employer requesting a continuation of previously approved employment without change with the same employer and requesting consular notification or an extension of stay. USCIS claims that the temporary suspension will help reduce overall H-1B processing time by allowing them to process long-pending petitions. USCIS reminds petitioners that while the premium processing suspension is in effect, they may submit a request to expedite an H-1B petition in certain extraordinary circumstances, and these requests will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.
Additionally, beginning October 1, 2018, USCIS will be increasing the premium processing fee from $1,225.00 to $1,410.00. It is important to consult with immigration counsel on the filing strategy for H-1B petitions before requesting premium processing.