h1b visa premium processing suspended impact options
H1B Visa

H1B Visa Premium Processing is Suspended for 6 Months

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.


Keep them coming in the comments section below.

Related Podcast

[smart_track_player url=”https://soundcloud.com/askhappyschools/ah-27-h1b-visa-premium-processing-is-suspended” social_gplus=”false” ]

[smart_track_player url=”https://soundcloud.com/askhappyschools/ah28-trvel-while-h1b-visa-with-cos-in-pending” ]

[smart_track_player url=”https://soundcloud.com/askhappyschools/ah029-h1b-transfer-while-premium-processing-is-suspended” ]

Similar Posts


  1. Hey,

    Need some regarding my H1B and it’s extension.
    My visa got expired on 6th August 2017, and my extension was filed on 3rd August 2017. So my 240 days notice stay should end on 3rd April 2018.

    worse is I received an RFE and submitted the required documents on 23rd march 2018. And also started the premium processing. Do have any idea what i should do now, should i wait till April, or should i pack my bags and head home.


  2. 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.

  3. 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?

  4. 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.


  5. 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. 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?

  6. [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)

    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.

  7. 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.


  8. 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

  9. 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?

  10. 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?


  11. 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

  12. Hello Raghu,

    Thanks for posting the details. My scenario is that, my H1B expires in July and i am in the process for applying for extension. And i know that going for Premium processing before 3oth March will be a good idea. But what if the case if my extension requires a RFE or its denied. If in the case its denied, is that required to leave US when my current Visa expired ? Kindly clarify.

    1. hi Raghu,

      On a separate issue, i was wondering would you be able to have write up on the pending H4 EAD lawsuit. With immigration voice associating them with the lawsuit, there have been some unsolicited news particularly in Indian news media. Since you had done terrific job in the coverage of STEM 17 month OPT lawsuit, would it be possible to have similar write up for this lawsuit as well ? Mainly covering the similarities and differences between the claim of the plaintiff ?

      1. I will start editing the H4 EAD page (which I have mainaibed since 2012 when news came out about H4 EAD).

  13. Hello, I am in a tight spot. I am still unable to get a job offer and I live in New York.
    I received my EAD in the middle of February with a start date of January 30th 2017 and expires January 30th 2018. My 90 days to be employed expires April.
    Please any suggestions how to gain employment from you or anyone

    1. Talk to your professor and volunteer. Volunteering will be unpaid employment, but an employment nonetheless. Should stop eating away your unemployment days.

  14. Did I miss the explanation of how it will be costly for somebody with a travel plan changing from F1 to H1B? If its not explained in audio/video/blog post can you please reply to my comment here. Thanks in advance Raghu.

  15. the information we are getting are very important and helpful..I want to know about the students who are still studying and will complete their MBA OR Masters in 2018 ,How much it is going to affect them with all these changes.Any good suggestion for them.

  16. hi Raghu

    My current H1b will expire on sept 8th
    however i got an offer american reputed company now they are about to initiate the h1b transfer to me

    so my question is if they initiate process before april 3rd will it still consider as premium ? or the petition needs to approve before april 3rd ?

    Right now my current employer is keep on askng my docs to initiate extension i am postponing here but after seeing this premium process suspension

    i am worried and i got those two questiosns which i mentioned above

  17. Hello Raghu,

    What happens if H1B Extension filed in normal processing goes beyond I94 expiry and there is change in Client and LCA? Is pending extension can be amended after I94 expiry? I heard it can be amended if I94 is not expired but if I94 is expired, there is a problem.

  18. Raghu,

    I understand we can work on a cap-gap between OPT expiration and September 30, beyond which H1B comes into effect and that is provided if we find out the petition gets selected. However, if H1B petition is still pending beyond September 30, we have to stop employment. My question is can an individual file for a STEM extension just to be safe and continue employment beyond Septmeber 30 while waiting on the pending H1B application? Also, once approved how do we transfer from a STEM extension to H1B?

    Let me know your thoughts. Thank you!

    1. I believe even if your H1 gets picked, the cap-gap is only applicable until Sep-30th and if your H1b petition is still pending after Sep-30th, then you need to stop working until you get the approval notice. I would suggest to go ahead and apply for your Stem extension.

  19. Hi ,
    Does this processing of backlog applications prolong the appointment waiting time for VISA renewal after Apr2017 ?

  20. Hello Raghu,
    As H1B visa premium processing is suspended from April 3rd. But USCIS will begin accepting new H1B visa quota based applications on April 1, 2017. So my question is if employer file H1B as premium processing on 1st April or 2nd April then will it be considered?


  21. Hi Raghu,
    My Post Completion OPT expires on May 17,2017 and my employer is filing for a H1B petition this year.I graduated from one of the schools where STEM OPT is not valid because of ACICS loss of accreditation.

    Now, I was hoping if my employer does premium processing I will have some time (mid April – mid May) to decide and plan out to extend my status (mostly, join a new MS program). Now with this decision, the date of my H1b petition is uncertain. What should I do to if my H1b decision comes between May 17th and beginning of Fall semester (typically August)?

    1. I can’t give advice specific your needs in public comments. Here’s what’s likely to happen, You should get cap-gap extension till Sep 30. Stop working on Sep 30, until you hear the decision.

  22. How will this delay affect the spouse who is working on the H4 EAD. Is the spouse also allowed to work for the 240 day extension period?

    1. I did not include this situation in the article. If you are applying for H1B extension and H4 Extension and H4 EAD, there can be break in H4 EAD employment.

  23. Hi Raghu ,
    Thanks for all the info. I have a small question, my opt expires on June 8th so I thought of applying in prememium processing this time so that I can utilize the cap gap if my application is picked. Now with this decision I should stop my full time job if the decision is unknown by June 8th. It is a loss to me and the team I am working for. Will I be able to utilize the expidited option for prememium processing since if they have indicated that we can utilize it if there is personal loss.Please let me know

    Thank you very much

    1. Hi,

      If your petition is picked in lottery, Your h1 in any case will start only by Oct 1st. And your OPT EAD ( F1 status ) is automatically extended till September 30th.


  24. Hi Raghu,

    If there is a h1b transfer pending we can work with new employer but can not travel to home country and get visa stamped?

    We have to wait for uscis approval in normal processing time lines before travel?


  25. Hi Raghu,

    Thanks for this update. Whats’s your opinion on how this premium processing suspension will effect the number of petitions? Also, when will a petitioner know if he/she got chosen in the lottery? Will that still be approximately within a month?

    Thanks in advance for your insights.

    1. It shouldn’t impact the applications. I’m not sure if they will follow the previous years schedule for Lottery.

  26. Hi

    My Present H1B ends in the month of August,is it good to go for premium? As still we have a month to apply for premium?

    Please suggest.

  27. Hi Raghu, I’m from non- stem category. My 1 year opt expires on June 10 this year. If I hear back on my h1b petition before June 10 then I can get cap gap. However, due to cancellation of premium processing I doubt I’ll get to know my h1b lottery situation before June 10. In such scenario do you think cap gap will still apply? Thanks for assistance on this.

  28. Thanks for this. I’m moving to another company and the company has started the process for LCA right now. That will take 7 or so working days. After that the company has mentioned that they would initiate the H1B transfer. I strongly believe and have a confirmation from them that they will initiate the H1B premium transfer before the last week of March (after they get the approved LCA). That being the case, the two weeks required by USCIS to reach a decision would spill over beyond the 3rd of April. Does that mean that my H1B would go into a normal filing?

  29. Hi Raghu,

    Thanks for the post. When you say first time H1B Applicant- I did apply last year but did not go through the lottery. Do I fall into the first time H1B applicant category.
    Also, is there an option to even file before April 1st?

    Looking forward for your response.


  30. I am a first time H-1B applicant and my first year of STEM opt ends this May. I am really not sure if my H-1B is rejected what steps I need to take to extend my OPT and at what time. Your insights will really help me. Thanks and appreciate your dedication!

    1. Did you mean, if your STEM OPT Expires and don’t have H1B, what is your option? Check out H1B Visa Plan B Course.

      If your initial OPT is about to expire, then file for STEM in timely manner.

  31. My H1 expires on Sep 30th 2017. Can I apply for My extension on March 30th or 31st 2017 Under premium processing? Also, my wife’s H4 EAD expires the same day. Can I apply her EAD extension as well along with my H1 and her H4 extension?

    Thanks in advance for your help.

    1. You can apply for extension upto 6 months in advance. Do the math and see if it wold work. Since April 1, 2 is weekend, application have to be sent on March 30th, so it be delivered on 31st. Does 31st fall within 6 months time?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *