Last Call for H-1B Cap Subject Petitions and Suspension of Premium Processing Last Call for H-1B Cap Subject Petitions and Suspension of Premium Processing

Last Call for H-1B Cap Subject Petitions and Suspension of Premium Processing

With the Fiscal Year 2018 filing window for new H-1B cap subject petitions opening on Monday, April 3, 2017, now is your last chance to seek a new H-1B visa petition. There are only 65,000 new H-1B visas available each fiscal year (with an additional 20,000 reserved for foreign nationals with a U.S. Master's degree or higher). If selected in the annual lottery and approved, H-1B status will become effective no earlier than October 1, 2017.

Last year (for FY2017), USCIS received approximately 236,000 H-1B petitions, and the year before that, 233,000 petitions were received. When demand for new H-1B visa status exceeds the numerical limitation set by Congress, a computer-generated "lottery" is used to select petitions. As in years past, the cap likely will be exhausted in the first week of available filing leaving U.S. employers will few options to hire new foreign workers until the start of the next fiscal year more than eighteen (18 ) months from now, October 1, 2018.

USCIS has also recently announced suspension of premium processing on all H-1B petitions. This impacts these new cap subject petitions, as well as filings for H-1B extensions of stay, amendments and change of employer petitions. The suspension takes effect on April 3, 2017 and is expected to last up to six (6) months. With normal processing of H-1B petitions routinely taking in excess of six (6) months, requests for “premium processing” (with the additional $1225 filing fee) is commonplace. Importantly, H-1B visa holders who are merely extending status with the same employer remain employment authorized for an additional 240 days while the extension is pending. However, the suspension of premium processing may impact continuous employment eligibility for even these workers depending on the extent of USCIS’s backlog of cases. Delays in normal H-1B processing, and the absence of premium processing, may also impact foreign workers’ ability to renew driver’s licenses and travel internationally.

To discuss H-1B eligibility and requirements and case-specific impact of premium processing suspension, please contact Jenifer M. BrownChristl P. Glier, or any member of Ice Miller's Immigration group.

This publication is intended for general information purposes only and does not and is not intended to constitute legal advice. The reader should consult with legal counsel to determine how laws or decisions discussed herein apply to the reader’s specific circumstances.
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