USCIS announced on October 3, 2017 it will resume accepting Premium Processing requests for all H-1B petitions. Premium Processing is an optional service available for certain non-immigrant and immigrant visa categories that guarantees initial adjudication of a petition within 15 calendar days for an additional $1,225 fee. In April 2017, USCIS suspended Premium Processing for all H-1B petitions, citing major delays in regular processing times and the agency's desire to catch up on backlogs of H-1B petitions. The suspension has had a significant impact on employers seeking change of status requests for foreign national employees and for foreign nationals needing approval notices in order to apply for new visas when returning to the U.S. after temporary travel abroad.
As the impact of the suspension acutely impacted hospitals, colleges, universities, and affiliated non-profits, USCIS resumed Premium Processing for medical doctors under the Conrad 30 Waiver Program in late June and for cap-exempt institutions such as colleges, universities, affiliated non-profits, and non-profit research organizations in late July. On September 18, 2017 USCIS announced it would accept Premium Processing upgrade requests for H-1B petitions filed the first week of April for the FY2018 cap. According to the agency's press release dated October 3, 2017, "Premium processing is now available for all types of H-1B petitions," so now all employers may take advantage of Premium Processing if needed. If you have a question about Premium Processing requests or upgrades, please contact the attorneys at Iandoli Desai & Cronin at firstname.lastname@example.org.