USCIS now accepting inquiries for extension of stay / change of employer petitions pending for more than 210 days

As many of our clients have noticed, a number of Form I-129 petitions requesting an extension of status or change of employer have been pending with USCIS for over 8 months (240 days). The majority of the Form I-129 petitions experiencing these delays affect H-1B employees. As a result of this backlog, employers and foreign nationals have needed to upgrade a large number of petitions to premium processing, at a cost of $1,225 per petition, in order to permit foreign nationals to travel abroad or receive their approval notice in a timely fashion. While USCIS has not provided an official explanation for these unprecedented delays, last month the agency publicized efforts to address the situation. On April 21, 2016, USCIS announced they were implementing a new system to permit employers or their attorneys of record to inquire about the status of certain Form I-129 petitions that have been pending for more than 210 days. 
Employers and attorneys can either submit a request online at (select the option "case is outside normal processing time") or by calling the National Customer Service Center at 1-800-375-5283 (TDD for deaf and hard of hearing: 1-800-767-1833).  To check on a case status, one must be ready to provide the receipt number, filing date, and the foreign national employee's date of birth.