USCIS has just announced that it will resume premium processing for all FY 2018 H-1B cap-subject cases that were filed in the first week of April 2017. This is very welcome news!
Many potential H-1B beneficiaries have “cap-gap” OPT work authorization expiring September 30, 2017. Premium processing provides a potential solution for these individuals who are concerned they must cease employment on September 30, 2017 because of their expiring work authorization under OPT.
Note, however, that premium processing does NOT guarantee an approval within 15 calendar days; it merely assures that the case will be adjudicated during this time period.
USCIS also indicated that it plans to resume premium processing for all other remaining H‑1B petitions not subject to the FY 2018 cap, as its workload permits. However, in the meantime, petitioners may submit a request to expedite their application if they meet USCIS’ specific criteria. Premium processing is still not available to extension petitions, including in the change-of-employer category.
It should be also noted that for this H-1B season, many Requests for Evidence (“RFEs”) are being issued, questioning whether the position qualifies as a “specialty occupation,” particularly for cases filed with a Level 1 wage under a Labor Condition Application with U.S. Department of Labor. For more information on strategies to respond to these RFEs, please see our blog.