Premium Processing is back in some cases: Updates for 2019

Now that the temporary suspension of Premium Processing for H-1B Petitions has been lifted, and with upcoming deadlines, let’s look at the changes and updates that happened to premium processing for the 2019/2020 year.

What is premium processing?

As discussed in other articles, premium processing is a way to speed up your visa, through a fee of $1410 USD, to get your visa in as little as 15 days. The 15 calendar day period will begin when USCIS properly receives the current version of Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing Service, at the correct filing address noted on the form.

Premium processing is used for H 1B visas for skilled workers, but for a comprehensive list of those that can apply please click here.

  • The process involves submitting a completed and signed USCIS form I-907 and paying  $1,410 payment to Department of Homeland Security.
  • Department of Homeland Security guarantees a 15 calendar day processing time or they will refund the $1,410 Premium Processing Service fee.
  • The 15 calendar day period will begin when USCIS receives the petition.
  • If the fee is refunded, the relating case will continue to receive expedited processing.

What is “cap exempt” and how do you get it?

H-1B petitions are subject to either the 65,000 statutory cap or the 20,000 master’s degree exemption. The cap typically gets reached right away in April. Unlike the regular and advanced degree categories, the H-1B cap exempt category does not have a set quota or annual limit. This is because there is a much higher demand for H-1B visas than the quota allows.

H-1B cap-exempt employers:

  • Higher education institution
  • Non-profit organization associated with a higher education institution
  • Non-profit research or government organization

Individuals who pay for Premium Processing Service on petitions filed for nonimmigrant classifications that are subject to annual numerical (“cap”) limitations will not have an unfair access to these limited immigration programs.

How do you file for premium processing?

You don’t. Only the petitioner (employer), or attorney for the petitioner can file – except in rare cases where the petitioner and the foreign worker are the same. The beneficiary can pay the fee but can’t sign form I-907.

Current changes in premium processing for 2019

  • Premium Processing Service is currently suspended for all Form I-129 filings that request a change or an initial grant of status for beneficiaries within the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI).
  • Premium processing for H-1B cap-subject petitions will be offered in a two-phased approach during the FY 2020 cap season. This is to help USCIS manage the premium processing requests without fully suspending it as in previous years.
  • The first phase will start on May 20 and include FY 2020 cap-subject H-1B petitions requesting a change of status and the second phase will include all other FY 2020 cap-subject petitions.
  • Starting on May 20, 2019, and continuing through the end of June 3, 2019, USCIS will use regular mail instead of  pre-paid mailers to send out final notices for premium processing for FY 2020 cap-subject H-1B petitions requesting a change of status.
  • H-1B Petitions transferred to other service centers. USCIS to balance load across their service centers, they transfer some petitions to other service centers. You may have filed your H-1B at one service center and USCIS may have transferred your case to another service center. Keep an eye out for notices of any changes.

 

Written by: Harlan York

Immigration Attorney Harlan York is Former Chair, Immigration Section, NJ State Bar Association and Former Co-Chair, NY State Bar Association CFLS Immigration Committee. Mr. York appeared on National Television on CBS This Morning with Charlie Rose and Primer Impacto on Univision, as well as Telemundo, NBC, and PBS. He was honored as First Ever Immigration Lawyer of The Year in NJ by Best Lawyers.

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