The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) on Tuesday announced that it has extended the previously announced temporary suspension of premium processing for H1-B visas by over five months, as part of its efforts to clear the backlog.
Under the Premium processing, the normal processing time of H-1B visa petitions is shortened from an average of six months to 15 days for a fee of $1,225.
Back in March, USCIS announced that it has temporarily suspended premium processing for all fiscal year 2019 cap-subject petitions, including petitions seeking an exemption for individuals with a US master’s degree or higher.
As per the new announcement, the premium processing suspension for the fiscal year 2019 cap-subject H-1B petitions, which was previously scheduled to end on September 10, 2018, will now last until February 2019 next year.
USCIS has announced that it is expanding the premium suspension of premium processing to include more petitions. The expanded suspension applies to all H-1B petitions filed at the Vermont and California Service Centers excluding some cap-exempt filings.
According to USCIS, the temporary suspension will help the agency to reduce overall H-1B processing times by allowing it to process long-pending petitions, which it has been unable to process until now due to the high volume of incoming petitions and premium processing requests over the past few months.
Furthermore, the temporary suspension will also allow the agency to respond to petitions with time-sensitive start dates as well as prioritize adjudication of H-1B extension of status cases that are nearing the 240-day mark.
The applicant, who is an H-1B non-immigrant, may be admitted for a period of up to three years. The time period may be extended, but generally cannot go beyond a total of six years. The agency said it will notify the public on its website before resuming premium processing for H-1B visa petitions.
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