Temporary Suspension of Premium Processing for H-1B Extensions Announced by USCIS
USCIS announced today that it was temporarily suspending Premium Processing for H-1B Extensions. The news may pose a problem for employers seeking to obtain petition approval for employees who seek to travel over the summer and apply for H-1B visas at U.S. consulates and embassies abroad. The temporary suspension will commence on May 26, 2015 and stay in place until July 27, 2015. Employees seeking to Premium Process will need to file their petitions by the end of this week in order to avail of the current expedited processing framework.
During the temporary suspension timeframe, USCIS will not accept Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing for H-1B nonimmigrant petitions seeking an extension of status.
Other I-129 petitions, including O-1 Petitions for Aliens of Extraordinary Ability, L-1 Petitions for Intracompany Transferees, E-2 Treaty Investors, and requests for initial H-1B status or consular notification (cap-exempt if filed during this time of year), will continue to enjoy eligibility for Premium Processing.
The temporary suspension is related to EAD processing for H-4s. As we wrote previously, USCIS will, for the first time ever, commence processing Employment Authorization Documents (EADs) for the spouses of certain H-1B holders on May 26th. In order to qualify, the H-1B spouse of the H-4 EAD applicant must be the beneficiary of an approved I-140 or be beyond their general 6-year H-1B allotment.
USCIS anticipates up to 180,000 H-4 status holders applying for the EAD in its first year of implementation. The suspension of H-1B premium processing will allow the USCIS to timely adjudicate the new EAD applications for employment authorization filed by H-4 nonimmigrants under the new regulations in a timely manner.