Today USCIS officially announced that Premium Processing will be available for this year’s H-1B cap petitions. However, USCIS will be implementing premium processing in a two-phased approach, depending on whether the petition is being filed with a request for Change of Status or whether the petition is being filed for Consular Notification.
For H-1B cases being filed with a request for Change of Status (CoS), petitioners can submit a premium processing request concurrently with the H-1B petition during the filing window (April 1-5, 2019). However, USCIS indicates that premium processing will not begin immediately but, rather, USCIS will begin premium processing for these petitions no later than Monday, May 20, 2019, and will notify the public before premium processing begins for these petitions. As such, selected H-1B CoS petitions filed with premium processing can expect to have their petitions reviewed no later than Monday, June 3, 2019.
For H-1B petitions filed for Consular Notification (CN), premium processing will not be immediately available and petitioners filing CN cases cannot submit a request for premium processing concurrently with the initial filing. Rather, petitioners will be required to submit their H-1B cap petitions via regular processing during the filing window (April 1-5, 2019). From there, USCIS indicates that premium processing for CN H-1B cap petitions will not be available until “at least June 2019” and that USCIS will notify the public with a confirmed date for premium processing for cap-subject CN H-1B petitions. Petitioners can then submit a request to upgrade their petition to premium processing service on or after the date announced by USCIS.
It is important to remember that whether a case is filed with premium processing or not will not in any way impact the random selection process and the earliest possible start date for FY2020 H-1B cap petitions is October 1, 2019. Therefore, filing with or upgrading to premium processing will not result in an individual being able to commence H-1B status earlier than October 1, 2019.
At this time, premium processing for H-1B petitions that are exempt from the cap, such as extension of stay requests, remains available.
D&S will continue to monitor the situation and provide updates as they become available.