The premium processing for H-1B petitions, which allow immigrants to pay an extra fee to get a quick response to their cases, will remain suspended for the next six months, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced.
The agency said that the temporary suspension, which went into effect April 2, has been extended until Feb. 12, 2019. It had been scheduled to resume in September.
The H-1B visa gives immigrants permission to work legally in the U.S.
“Over the past few years, USCIS has experienced an increased volume of petitions and a significant surge in premium processing requests,” USCIS spokesman, Michael Bars, explained.
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“The extension of the temporary suspension will enable agency officials to more effectively and efficiently adjudicate H-1B petitions — particularly long-pending extension of stay petitions — reduce overall H-1B processing times and cut backlogs”, he said.
“USCIS will continue evaluating all petitions on a case-by-case basis according to all applicable laws, policies and regulations.”
The temporary suspension applies to all H-1B petitions filed at the Vermont and California service centers and those subject to the fiscal year 2019 cap.
It will not affect those applying to any other non-immigrant classifications filed on Form I-129. While the premium processing is suspended, Citizenship and Immigration Services will reject Forms I-907 (to request the priority service) that they receive along with Form I-129, used for the petition of a non-immigrant worker.
“If a petitioner submits one combined check for the Form I-907 and Form I‑129 H-1B fees, both forms will be rejected,” the agency said.
The agency said it will reimburse the premium processing fee if the applicant submitted the Form I-907 before Sept. 11, or if the agents did not take action on the case within the 15-calendar-day processing period.