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
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.