On October 3, 2017, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that it will begin accepting premium processing requests for all categories of H-1B petitions. In March 2017, USCIS had suspended the premium processing program for H-1B petitions, citing the need to reduce its overwhelming processing backlog. During the past several months, USCIS has phased in premium processing for certain limited categories of H-1B petitions. USCIS’s latest announcement allows employers to file premium processing requests for all H-1B categories, including H-1B visa extension of stay petitions, and also allows employers to upgrade pending petitions to premium processing.
The USCIS premium processing program allows petitioning employers to pay an additional government filing fee of $1,225, on top of the normal filing fee, in exchange for USCIS’s agreement to adjudicate eligible categories of nonimmigrant employment-based visa petitions within 15 calendar days. The premium processing option has been popular among many employers given the time-sensitive nature of many employment arrangements.