- U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is expanding its ongoing suspension of premium processing for H-1B petitions subject to the cap, according to an announcement Tuesday. Originally announced in March, USCIS is expanding the suspension past the original Sept. 10 deadline until Feb. 19, 2019.
- The suspension does not apply to extensions or cases that are cap-exempt.
- H-1B petitioners can still request expedited petitions, and requests are granted on a case-by-case basis by USCIS leadership, according to the announcement.
In the last year, USCIS has made a series of tweaks and adjustments to H-1B adjudication policies, weaving a complex landscape of policies H-1B petitioners have to follow. All changes taken together are capable of deterring applicants and creating an exhaustive application process.
However, USCIS does say the premium processing suspension is a temporary move, which will make it easier for the agency to process a backlog of petitions. With a "high volume of incoming petitions and premium processing requests," the agency said it has been unable to keep up.
In particular, the agency wants the ability to respond to time-sensitive start dates and extension filings close to the 240-day mark, USCIS said in the announcement.
But from the petitioners' perspective, USCIS's recent changes combined with previous policy memos have a "big impact," according to Jennifer Minear, an immigration lawyer from Richmond, VA, in an email to CIO Dive. The cumulative effect is "increasing the level of denials and the extreme consequences of those denials."