For the second straight year, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will implement a staggered approach to premium processing for the H-1B cap season. For fiscal year (FY) 2021, USCIS will make premium processing available in two phases.
Phase One: Requests to Change Status From F-1
- The initial resumption of premium processing will be limited to H-1B cap-subject petitions, including those eligible for the advanced degree exemption who are requesting a change of status from F-1 student status.
- According to USCIS, the agency will begin premium processing for cases falling under the first phase no later than May 27, 2020. It is unclear whether disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic will affect that timeline.
- USCIS will notify the public before premium processing for these petitions officially begins.
Phase Two: All Other Cap-Subject H-1B Petitions
- Premium processing for all other cap-subject H-1B petitions will not begin until at least June 29, 2020.
- USCIS will issue an announcement to provide a date on which the second phase will officially begin.
H-1B petitioners may not file requests for premium processing concurrently with their H-1B petitions when the 90-day filing window begins on April 1, 2020. Instead, petitioners will have the opportunity to upgrade to premium processing once premium processing resumes for their petition types.
For the time being, cap-exempt petitions, such as extensions of stay, remain eligible for premium processing.
Ogletree Deakins’ Immigration Practice Group will continue to monitor developments with respect to the policy changes and will post updates on our Immigration blog as additional information becomes available.