On July 24, 2017, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services ("USCIS") announced it will resume premium processing for certain cap-exempt H-1B petitions effective immediately. Premium Processing Service is offered by USCIS for certain types of petitions, allowing employers or foreign nationals the option to pay an additional $1225 for an adjudication on the petition within 15 calendar days of filing. USCIS suspended this service in April, citing the need to address current workloads for cases filed via regular processing and clear backlogs.
The H-1B visa has an annual cap of 65,000 visas each fiscal year. Additionally, there is an annual "master's cap" of 20,000 petitions filed for beneficiaries with a U.S. master's degree or higher. Certain petitioning employers are exempt from the annual cap, including institutions of higher education and certain nonprofits. Specifically, USCIS announced - effective immediately - that Premium Processing Service for H-1B petitions may resume if:
- the Petitioner is an institution of higher education;
- the Petitioner is a nonprofit related to or affiliated with an institution of higher education;
- the Petitioner is a nonprofit research or governmental research organization; or,
- if the Beneficiary of the H-1B petition will be employed at a qualifying cap-exempt institution, organization or entity.
USCIS had previously announced that premium processing had resumed for H-1B petitions filed on behalf of physicians under the Conrad 30 waiver program as well as interested government agency waivers. In this most recent announcement, USCIS indicated it will resume premium processing of other H-1B petitions as workloads permit and to watch for further announcements.