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UNITED STATES – USCIS to Suspend Premium Processing of H-1B Extension Petitions from 26 May to 27 June 2015

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced on 19 May that it will temporarily suspend premium processing of all H-1B extension of status petitions effective 26 May 2015 until 27 July 2015.

What is Premium Processing?

Premium Processing service permits employers to request USCIS to adjudicate (approve, deny or request additional evidence) petitions within 15 calendar days by submitting Form I-907, a Request for Premium Processing Service and an additional filing fee of $1,225.00.

What Petitions are Affected?

During the suspension, petitions for H-1B extensions of stay via premium processing will not be accepted.

USCIS has stated that if an H-1B extension of status petition is submitted prior to 26 May 2015 via premium processing and USCIS does not act on the petition within the 15-day calendar period, it will refund the premium processing fee.

Premium processing requests will be accepted for H-1B cap petitions and for H-1B petitions requesting change of status or consular notification.

What is not entirely clear from the announcement is whether H-1B petitions requesting an amendment without an extension of H-1B status will be affected. An amended H-1B petition is filed with USCIS when there is a change in a term of employment, such as a change in position or worksite, or even a change in employer, but no request to extend the validity of the current H-1B expiration date.

Why Suspend Premium Processing?

USCIS is being "proactive" in anticipation of thousands of applications for employment authorization documents that may be submitted by H-4 spouses beginning 26 May 2015 based on a regulation published earlier this year. USCIS states that this temporary suspension will permit them to adjudicate the applications for employment authorization for H-4 spouses who are married to H-1B employees that are in a certain stage of the permanent resident process.

It is important to note that this regulation could be negatively impacted if the court grants a preliminary injunction as the result of a lawsuit filed by a group of former Southern California Edison employees against the U.S. Department of Homeland Security this past April. If the court grants the preliminary injunction, USCIS will not be permitted to process the employment authorization documents applications to be filed by H-4 spouses, making the announced suspension of premium processing unnecessary.

Action Items

  • H-1B extension petitions via premium processing should be made as soon as possible, and at any rate before 26 May 2015.
  • Note that, even if submitted before 26 May, these petitions may not be processed within the usual 15-day period.

This news alert was prepared using information provided by Maggio and Kattar.

DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this immigration alert has been abridged from laws, court decisions, and administrative rulings and should not be construed or relied upon as legal advice. If you have specific questions regarding the applicability of this information, please contact Peregrine © 2017 Peregrine Immigration Management Ltd.