h1b visa premium processing suspended impact options

H1B Visa Premium Processing is Suspended for 6 Months

Raghu H1B Visa 66 Comments

H1B Visa Premium Processing is suspended for up to 6 months by USCIS starting April 3, 2017.  Let me highlight the following:

Only Premium Processing for H1B Visa is suspended. This is not the suspension of H1B Visa program.

h1b visa premium processing suspended

1. What is Premium Processing?

By paying additional $1225 fee, H1B Visa applicants can request processing of petitions within 15 days of application. With premium processing, applicants can know if their petition is approved or denied or additional query is required within 15 days from the day USCIS receives the application.

2. How long does Regular Processing Take?

Regular processing of H1B Visa can take upto 10 month as per Processing Time posted in for USCIS Service centers.

3. Why USCIS Suspending Premium Processing?

Here primary reasons for suspending Premium Processing as reported by USCIS.

  • Process long-pending petitions, which we have currently been unable to process due to the high volume of incoming petitions and the significant surge in premium processing requests over the past few years; and
  • Prioritize adjudication of H-1B extension of status cases that are nearing the 240 day mark.

4. How is this going to impact upcoming H1B Visa 2018 applications?

Employers and their Immigration attorney’s are going to apply for H1B Visa as they would apply previous years, but without Premium Processing request.

Now, you know the premise, let move on for detailed analysis.

Let me answer the impact if H1B Visa Premium Processing suspension for following situations

  • H1B Visa Extension
  • H1b Visa Transfer to New Employer
  • First Time H1B Visa Applicants
  • OPT-Cap Gap

Before I can get into specific scenarios, I have to give you the background, as some readers are may not understand the situation surrounding this H1B Visa Premium Processing Suspension.

Current H1B Visa Processing Time

H1B Visa Processing time as of Mar 2017

Current H1B Processing Times at California Service Center

  • H1B Visa Extension – 8 Months (July 2, 3016)
  • Change of Status – 8 Months
  • Applicants from Outside USA – 8 months

Current H1B Processing Times at Vermont  Service Center

  • H1B Visa Extension – 03/07/2016
  • Change of Status – 04/11/2016
  • Applicants from Outside USA – 04/11/2016

H1B Visa Processing time as of Jan 2017

Current Processing Times at California Service Center

  • H1B Visa Extension – 805/16/2016
  • Change of Status -05/16/2016
  • Applicants from Outside USA -05/16/2016

Current Processing Times at Vermont  Service Center

  • H1B Visa Extension – 12/07/2015 << Over 1 Year
  • Change of Status – 04/11/2016
  • Applicants from Outside USA -04/11/2016

H1B Visa Premium Processing Suspended

There was a court ruling (June 2015) that required new H1B amendment to change in job location. Previously to that ruling, only new LCA was required. After the ruling, LCA, along with the H1B Visa amendment was required.

Now, think about a contractor, who moves to the new project at new client. The employer has to file LCA and H1B amendment for new location. That could have caused a dramatic increase in USCIS Service center workload.

  • More workload = Delays in Processing Time

Due to the lengthy processing time for H1B Visa Extension and New applications, employer’s were forced to upgrade to Premium Processing, so employee can continue to work or start working on H1B.

Wait a minute? Why would someone have to upgrade to Premium? Can’t someone with pending H1B Visa extension application continue to work? The answer is Yes and No.

Take this example:

John’s 3 years H1B visa is about to expire in April. So, the employer applies for H1B Visa extension to get 3 more years of Approval in the month of March via Regular Processing. As per USCIS guidelines, the employee can continue to work for up to 240 days while application is pending. 

Now, look at the processing time posted above, for Jan, 2017 – H1B Visa processing time for Extension in VSC is over 12 months.

An employee can work for 8 months while H1B Visa extension application is pending, but they can’t work beyond 8 months. So, the only way for an employee to continue to work is by upgrading to Premium Processing to get H1B Visa approval before the 240 days limit.

Guess what?

In FY 2016 about 569,000 LCA was certified. Which means, USCIS would have processed close to the same number of H1B applications.

Those who want to continue to work beyond 240 days were upgrading to Premium Processing. Pretty much all H1B Extension application would be upgraded to Premium Processing (my assumption).

Can you imagine the workload for USCIS to process the H1B Visa in Premium Processing?

By, suspending Premium Processing for applications H1B Visa Applications, they can clear the pending backlogs.

Impact of H1B Visa Premium Processing Suspension?

Let’s look at few scenarios where this latest news from USCIS would have an impact.

  • H1B Visa Transfer Application – Minimal
  • Drivers License Renewal – Medium to High
  • OPT Cap Gap – Medium
  • H1B Visa Extension – Medium
  • Change of Status to H1B form F1 (with Travel Plans) – Could be Expensive.
  • H4 EAD Application with H1B Extension

H1B Visa Transfer

Here’s a question from Sam about H1B Visa Transfer and suspension of H1B Visa Premium Processing:

I’m planning to apply for H1B Transfer.  Now, if I apply H1B transfer after 3rd April. I can work with new employer with confirmation receipt before approval. What if I got rejection in H1B transfer later? What are H1B transfer rejection rate? I have US education degree. As well, both my employers (current and future) are top companies (has good reputation).

In my case, Do you think going for normal processing will be good enough or it’s always better to go for premium processing in case of H1B Transfer.

Yes, you can work for new employer right after applying for H1B Visa transfer. But, without Premium processing, we don’t know how long it would take for USCIS to approve the petition. But, they said, they will prioritize the adjudication of H1B application nearing 240 days. If your new employer has questionable history, then reconsider H1B Visa transfer.

You would have to discuss this option with an attorney to figure out what are the chances of RFE or Rejection. Then make a move. You don’t have the luxury of changing after H1B is approved for 6 months or so.

Impact on OPT Cap Gap

My opt extension is ending 15th May. I would have fallen under opt cap gap and continued working till Sept end on Opt and started H1 from 1st Oct if my h1 would have been picked after doing premium filing. Now that there’s no premium what are my options ?

If your OPT or STEM OPT is going to expire between April and September, and if you have applied for H1B in timely manner, then Cap-Gap provision would come into effect automatically, but you are required to inform your DSO and get new Cap-Gap I-2o

And you can continue to work until Sep 30. After Sep 30, you would have to stop working, but remain in the USA based on pending H1B Visa application. Once H1B is approved, then you can continue to work. If your H1B application is denied or withdrawn, then you would have 60 days grace period. Refer to this guide for additional OPT Cap Gap Details.

Now, H1B Visa premium processing is under suspension (from Apr 3, 2017), you have to wait for H1B approval beyond Oct 1, 2017. But, USCIS stated the following in the press release:

h1n premium processing suspension 240 days

So, I’m guessing, from April to August, USCIS would try to clear the existing backlogs of H1B Visa petitions. Then focus on processing and approving and approving H1B Visa 2018 petitions. 

But, because of H1B Visa Premium Procession suspension for upto 6 months, you can still continue to apply for H1B Visa. Only things is that H1B Visa Approval result will be delayed.

Questions?

Keep them coming in the comments section below.

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Comments

  1. Hi ,

    Our visa will going to expires oct. 2017, my husband h1 visa and with our children h4 dependent. Question?if my husband h1 visa is approved are we also , his dependent carried on it, throught Premium processsing and or an interview from the countrys of origin by US embassy by using the approved H1 visa.

  2. Hi Raghu
    Any idea if PP is going to resume soon for H1b transfer, as I recently see an update on USCIS website that they will resume as workload permits, any guess from your past experience if it is hinting to resume sooner like in 15 to 30 days?

  3. Hi Raghu,

    I got picked up in lottery last year and RFE got cleared in Nov last year. I have not done any stamping yet. My employer immigration team is saying I can’t go for amendment as h1b will get expire before amendment. Can’t go for extension as well they amendment & extension can’t go together. Question –
    Is it true that amendment and extension can’t be done together anymore?
    Can I go for Cap exempt post h1b expiration ? employer is negative about this as it has been stopped by USICS.

    Cheers,

  4. My application reached to USCIS Nebraska Service center March 29, 2017 Wednesday, Still waiting & not issued receipt number till Today April 04, 2017. Any clue.

    1. I’m in same situation. filed on 29th in CA with premium processing via top employer. no receipt yet.

    2. Hi Sanjay,

      I am going to make a H1 transfer soon, can you please let me know if you have got the receipt number , and what is your current status?

  5. [email protected]

    Hi guys, If you know anyone who is fraudulent in your respective companies please report their information to [email protected]

    – faking resumes
    – evading taxes
    – faking interviews
    – faking degree
    – inflated or fabricated educational and employment qualifications
    – misusing cpt
    – h1b visa scam/fraud or whatsoever etc…)
    – never been outside US for looooong time worrying of stamping issues

    please report their information to [email protected]
    – full name
    – social profiles like Facebook, twitter, linkedin etc
    – Short description about how did they cheat

    This Email address is fetched from USCIS home page (article published on April 3rd)
    https://www.uscis.gov/news/news-releases/putting-american-workers-first-uscis-announces-further-measures-detect-h-1b-visa-fraud-and-abuse

    1. If someone Friend or Friends own company? Does USCIS check those Fraud people Friendship? If Yes, I bet you they will sure clear 70% backlog of GC for sure. That hurt like us who hired by American employer & American companies directly.

  6. Hi,

    I have question regarding H4. I and my spouse have valid H1 & H4 extension visa till 03/2019 and also i have my I-94 valid till 03/2019 noted in I797A approval notice. My wife travel to home country in 12/2014 with valid previous H4 visa and stamped, and came back to US in 03/2015 so her I-94 updated online on cbp site and mentioned expire date of I-94 is 09/01/2016.

    I am planning to file my H-1B transfer to new employer. My questions are:

    1) Do i need to file H4 along with H-1B transfer?

    2) If answer of above question is no than how long i can wait to file for her h4 under my new H-1B which will be tied with new employer.

    3) I still have week before March end so what do you suggest should i file H-1B under Premium process? If USCIS take more than 240 days for decision i have to immediately stop working from 241th day & since PP will be suspended from 3rd April i can’t convert that time my application to PP.

    Your any help would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks.

  7. guys

    careful this time do not file two h1s or inhouse h1s . In this 6 months it will be a tharo investigation and they will approve . Double applications with same LCA is going to be a big problem

  8. Hi,

    I am currently on j1. My waiver application is in process and my J1 expires in August , 10, 2017. Do you think I should go for consular processing of H1b rather than applying for change of status here?

  9. Hi,

    Under the “H1B Visa Transfer” section you mentioned, “You don’t have the luxury of changing after H1B is approved for 6 months or so.”

    Could you explain more what does it mean? Can’t I wait to get the H1B transfer approved and then change the employer?

    Also, can you please tell how long does it take usually to receive the confirmation receipt of the H1B transfer application?

    Thanks!

  10. Hi i am a recent graduate from silicon valley university. Im currently on opt looking for jobs. OUR college lost ASCICS recognition. My school is accredated til dec 2017. Can i get OPT extension. My opt period expires on feb 2018

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