USCIS will resume premium processing on Monday, January 28, 2019 for all fiscal year (FY) 2019 H-1B cap petitions, including those eligible for the advanced degree exemption (the “master’s cap”). This refers to any H1-B lottery applications filed last April that are still pending with the agency. Employers who have petitions still at the agency can upgrade them to premium processing and receive a decision on their petition(s) within 15 days. If USCIS does not take adjudicative action within the 15-calendar day processing time, it will refund the petitioner’s premium processing service fee and continue with expedited processing of the petition. This service is only available for pending petitions, not new submissions. The USCIS announcement is only applicable to cap-subject FY2019 H-1B applications. Premium processing remains suspended for the following H-1B categories, at least until February 19, 2019:
- H1B Extension Petitions that include changes to the original position
- H1B Petitions where there is a change of employer
- H1B Petitions that request amendments with changes to the original petition
The previously announced temporary suspension of premium processing remains in eﬀect for all other categories of H-1B petitions to which it applied. USCIS plans to resume premium processing for the remaining categories of H‑1B petitions as agency workloads permit.
They will notify the public via uscis.gov when they begin accepting premium processing for other categories of H-1B petitions.
Premium processing also continues to be available for H-1B cap exempt petitions filed by institutions of higher education, government research entities and some qualified non-profit organizations that file petitions at the California Service Center. It is also still available for H-1B extension petitions where there are no changes or amendments. These are applications that are filed with the Nebraska Service Center.
It is unclear whether the original deadline for the lifting of the premium processing ban of February 19, 2019 will be honored, or whether the ban will be further extended.