USCIS Resumes Premium Processing for All H-1B Petitions

USCIS announced it will resume premium processing on Tuesday, March 12, for all H-1B petitions. This means that for an additional fee of $1,410, USCIS will guarantee a 15-calendar day processing time.  Normally, it takes between 3 and 5 months for USCIS to process work visas. If you received a request for evidence (RFE) for a pending petition, you should include the RFE response with the premium processing request.  By the close of the 15th day, USCIS will issue an approval, a denial, or a Request for Evidence (RFE). If the 15-day guarantee is not met, USCIS will refund the $1,410 fee and continue with expedited processing of the petition.

If Your H-1B petition was transferred and you are requesting premium processing service, you must submit the premium processing request to the service center now handling the petition. You should also include a copy of the transfer notice with your premium processing request to avoid possible delays. If your petition was transferred and you send your premium processing request to the wrong center, USCIS will forward it to the petition’s current location. However, the premium processing clock will not start until the premium processing request has been received at the correct center.

In recent years the CIS has discontinued premium processing for H-1B cap cases in April in order to allow sufficient time for application of the lottery and receipting-in of selected petitions. Last year the CIS extended the suspension of premium processing well beyond the cap filing season and expanded the suspension to include most H-1B petitions.

It is not clear whether the CIS will continue premium processing for all H-1B petitions once H-1B cap petitions are filed in the first week of April. It is possible that the CIS could discontinue premium processing for H-1B cap petitions or even other types of petitions.

Premium processing is expensive for visa seekers, since it requires them to pay the additional amount of US$1,410 per application on top of the base fee. However, analysts say it is precious for many IT companies struggling to hire skilled technology professionals in the United States.