March 6, 2017
TO: Vice Presidents, Vice Provosts, Deans, Directors, Department Heads, and Managers
FROM: Kyle Cavanaugh, Vice President for Administration, Emergency Coordinator
RE: Temporary Suspension of Premium Processing for H-1B Visa Petitions
On Friday, March 3, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that as of April 3, 2017, they will temporarily suspend premium processing for all H-1B petitions. The suspension is projected to last for six months.
Departments are encouraged to look at any situations that may warrant submitting a premium processing application for incoming individuals, as well as applying for extensions for any existing holders of H1B visas.
With the temporary suspension in place effective April 3, the projected duration to secure a H1B is likely to be 7-8 months in duration. Departments will need to take the projected time into future planning. While expedited processing is available, USCIS has the discretion not to exercise it, even if Duke believes it is warranted. USCIS also has the discretion of not processing a premium processing petition if received before April 3 and the petition cannot be adjudicated within 15 days. We recommend that any pending Premium Processing petitions be filed within the next two weeks.
Please contact your assigned Duke Visa Services advisors with any concerns or questions regarding H-1B new or pending H-1B applications
For your reference, listed below is the announcement from the USCIS:
USCIS Will Temporarily Suspend Premium Processing for All H-1B Petitions
Starting April 3, 2017, USCIS will temporarily suspend premium processing for all H-1B petitions. This suspension may last up to 6 months. While H-1B premium processing is suspended, petitioners will not be able to file Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing Service for a Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker which requests the H-1B nonimmigrant classification. We will notify the public before resuming premium processing for H-1B petitions.
Who Is Affected
The temporary suspension applies to all H-1B petitions filed on or after April 3, 2017. Since FY18 cap-subject H-1B petitions cannot be filed before April 3, 2017, this suspension will apply to all petitions filed for the FY18 H-1B regular cap and master’s advanced degree cap exemption (the “master’s cap”). The suspension also applies to petitions that may be cap-exempt.
While premium processing is suspended, we will reject any Form I-907 filed with an H-1B petition. If the petitioner submits one combined check for both the Form I-907 and Form I-129 H-1B fees, we will have to reject both forms.
We will continue to premium process Form I-129 H-1B petitions if the petitioner properly filed an associated Form I-907 before April 3, 2017. Therefore, we will refund the premium processing fee if:
- The petitioner filed the Form I-907 for an H-1B petition before April 3, 2017, and
- We did not take adjudicative action on the case within the 15-calendar-day processing period.
This temporary suspension of premium processing does not apply to other eligible nonimmigrant classifications filed on Form I-129.
Requesting Expedited Processing
While premium processing is suspended, petitioners may submit a request to expedite an H-1B petition if they meet the criteria on the Expedite Criteria webpage. It is the petitioner’s responsibility to demonstrate that they meet at least one of the expedite criteria, and we encourage petitioners to submit documentary evidence to support their expedite request.
We review all expedite requests on a case-by-case basis and requests are granted at the discretion of the office leadership.
Why We Are Temporarily Suspending Premium Processing for H-1B Petitions
This temporary suspension will help us to reduce overall H-1B processing times. By temporarily suspending premium processing, we will be able to:
- 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.
USCIS reviews all expedite requests on a case-by-case basis and requests are granted at the discretion of the office leadership. The burden is on the applicant or petitioner to demonstrate that one or more of the expedite criteria have been met.
USCIS may expedite a petition or application if it meets one or more of the following criteria:
- Severe financial loss to company or person;
- Emergency situation;
- Humanitarian reasons;
- Nonprofit organization whose request is in furtherance of the cultural and social interests of the United States;
- Department of Defense or national interest situation (These particular expedite requests must come from an official U.S. government entity and state that delay will be detrimental to the government.);
- USCIS error; or
- Compelling interest of USCIS.