20 March 2019
Category News Room
20 March 2019,

We sent our monthly alert on Monday and in typical USCIS fashion we must provide important breaking news. There are two important updates related to H-1B processing.

The first relates to the new cap season and premium processing. Although we anticipated USCIS would suspend premium processing of cap cases until September (as it had done in recent years), yesterday the government announced it would permit premium processing under the following conditions:

  • USCIS wants to take a staggered approach;
  • USCIS will allow any case filed as a “Change of Status” application to file with a premium processing request. To qualify as a Change of Status you must be in status in the U.S. at the time of filing and be eligible for continued status up and until 9/30/2019. Those who file and request premium processing at filing will have their cases commenced via premium no later than May 20, 2019;
  • USCIS will allow any H-1B cap case to upgrade to premium processing at some point in the future, and this apparently includes both consular notification filings and change of status filings. This premium option will not become available until June or later, and its timing is contingent on how quickly USCIS is able to process the change of status premium processing cases.

This information confirms that premium processing is available for cap filings and that it is only a matter of waiting until USCIS is ready to processing the first and second “wave” of premium processing cases. From our perspective we recommend that companies continue to follow the original filing plan and make a decision separately on premium processing. If you wish to discuss this decision, please let us know. From a business perspective we would recommend considering premium filing for any employee who needs the H-1B to start as of October 1, 2019.

The second update relates to the announcement of a new H-1B interactive “hub” created by USCIS. We will be paying attention on how USCIS rolls out its new outreach related to this important program.

As a related note on the subject of premium processing, we did recently report that all change of employer H-1B case filings that were pending can now be upgraded to premium processing. Additionally, any new change of employer H-1B case may be filed using the premium processing service. So in short, premium processing is fully restored as of now, and it will be available for cap season, they are just delaying its implementation by roughly 50 days.

As a final reminder, if you have an H-1B case that you are thinking of filing against the 2019 cap, please let us know as soon as possible, as the window to file is soon approaching.

If you wish to read the official USCIS announcement it is available on the USCIS website here.

** This newsletter/memo is provided for informational and discussion purposes only. It does not act as a substitute for direct legal contact on an individual basis **

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