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United States - USCIS Extends & Expands H-1B Premium Processing Suspension

U.S. - USCIS Extends & Expands H-1B Premium Processing

This report covers the extended suspension of premium processing of cap-subject H-1B petitions by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). This suspension is expanded to include additional H-1B petitions and goes into effect September 11, 2018.



Related content

Flash Alert 2018-116

Effective September 11, 2018, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will extend the temporary suspension of premium processing of cap-subject H-1B petitions, and expand this suspension to include additional H-1B petitions. The stated objective of the extension and expansion of premium processing suspension is to reduce overall H-1B processing times. For prior coverage, see GMS Flash Alert 2018-058 (April 5, 2018).

This newly extended and expanded temporary suspension is expected to last until February 19, 2019, and does not apply to any other nonimmigrant classifications.1 


Extending and expanding the suspension of premium processing for certain H-1B petitions means that employers will be limited to regular processing for many H-1B filings until at least February 19, 2019. H-1B petitions will not be subject to the expanded premium processing suspension if they

(a) were filed for premium processing prior to September 11, 2018;

(b) meet the specified exemptions for certain H-1B petitions; or 

(c) meet the specified “expedite criteria” outlined below. 

Employers and beneficiaries should consider using USCIS premium processing service before September 11, 2018, to expedite the adjudication of H-1B extension of status cases that have been in process close to 240 days, as well as H-1B cases requiring urgent approval to facilitate international travel. 


Premium processing is an optional service offered by the USCIS that allows for expedited processing for certain employment-based petitions and applications. Specifically, USCIS guarantees a 15-calendar day processing time to those petitioners or applicants who submit a Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing Service, and remit the additional government filing fee of $1,225.

The 15-calendar-day period begins when USCIS receives the completed Form I-907. Within this period, USCIS will issue an approval notice, a denial notice, a notice of intent to deny, or a request for evidence. If the petition or application requires additional evidence or a response to a notice of intent to deny, then a new 15-calendar-day period will begin upon USCIS’ receipt of a complete response to the request for evidence or notice of intent to deny.

In contrast, the current government processing time for H-1B petitions that are not premium processed is 4 to 6 months. 

Further Details on Changes

Prior to this USCIS announcement, the temporary suspension of premium processing for fiscal year 2019 cap-subject H-1B petitions was set to end on September 10, 2018. It is now expected to extend through an estimated date of February 19, 2019. Further, the expanded suspension will apply to all H-1B petitions filed at the Vermont and California Service Centers, excluding the cap-exempt filings noted below.

While H-1B premium processing is suspended, USCIS will reject any Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing Service filed with an affected Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker

Premium Processing Still Available for Some H-1B Petitions

The suspension does not apply to:

  1. Cap-exempt petitions filed exclusively at the California Service Center because the employer is cap exempt or because the beneficiary will be employed at a qualifying cap exempt institution, entity, or organization; or
  2. Those petitions filed exclusively at the Nebraska Service Center by an employer requesting a “Continuation of previously approved employment without change with the same employer” with a concurrent request to: 
  • Notify the office in Part 4 so each beneficiary can obtain a visa or be admitted; or
  • Extend the stay of each beneficiary because the beneficiary now holds this status.

Requesting Expedited Processing

Petitioners may still submit a request to expedite an H-1B petition while the suspension is in effect if they meet any of the “expedite” criteria (see 

  • 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;
  • USCIS error;
  • Compelling interest of USCIS.

Petitioners will have to demonstrate that they meet at least one of the criteria and submit documentary evidence to support their request. USCIS reviews all requests on a case-by-case basis and the decision to expedite a case is discretionary.


KPMG Law LLP in Canada will continue to monitor the situation, and will endeavor to keep GMS Flash Alert readers informed as developments occur.

Please note that KPMG LLP (U.S.) does not provide any immigration services.  However, KPMG Law LLP in Canada can assist clients with U.S. immigration matters.   

The information contained in this newsletter was submitted by the KPMG International member firm in Canada.

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