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USCIS Resumes Premium Processing of H-1B Petitions for Cap-Exempt Employers

USCIS Resumes Premium Processing of H-1B Petitions for Cap-Exempt Employers

On July 24, 2017, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS)  announced that it would resume Premium Processing of H-1B petitions for employers who are exempt from the annual H-1B Cap.

This comes as very welcome news to employers who are struggling to fill critical specialty occupation positions within their organizations in a timely fashion.

The H-1B visa program allows U.S. workers to sponsor qualified professional foreign nationals for employment in specialty occupation positions. There is an annual limit of 85,000 H-1B visas available to U.S. employers. However, certain employers are exempt from the annual cap.

So-called “cap-exempt employers” include:
 - Institutions of higher education;
- Nonprofit organizations related to or affiliated with an institution of higher education; and
- Nonprofit research or governmental research organizations.

These “cap-exempt” employers will now be able to file H-1B petitions on behalf of qualified foreign national employees for specialty occupation positions and request Premium Processing. 

The Premium Processing program allows employers to pay an additional USCIS filing fee of $1,225.00 to have their H-1B petitions adjudicated by the USCIS within 15 days of filing.

Cap-exempt employers also have the option of “upgrading” H-1B petitions currently pending before USCIS to Premium Processing.

The Premium Processing program provides a critical function for many U.S. employers who require qualified foreign national employees to fill positions for which there are limited or no qualified, willing and able U.S. workers. Universities, hospitals and affiliated school districts are notable examples of cap exempt employers that have struggled to fill critical positions within their organizations during the Premium Processing suspension.

Since 2001, Premium Processing has been available for a variety of immigrant and non-immigrant petitions with USCIS, including H-1B, E-2, L-1, O-1, P-1, Q-1, R-1 and TN petitions. 

On April 3, 2017, the USCIS announced a temporary suspension of “Premium Processing” for all H-1B petitions. The USCIS indicated that the suspension of Premium Processing could last for up to six months (through October 3, 2017).

On June 26, 2017, USCIS announced that it would resume Premium Processing for petitions filed on behalf of physicians under the Conrad 30 waiver program and interested government agency waivers.

Cap-exempt employers are the second group of employers to benefit from the resumption of Premium Processing.

For more information on Premium Processing, H-1B visas or H-1B cap-exempt status, please contact Kolko & Associates, P.C.


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Kolko & Casey, P.C. is a full service immigration and naturalization law firm providing professional legal services to individuals and businesses throughout Colorado, the Rocky Mountain West, the United States, and the World. Our professional staff speaks English, Spanish, Korean, and Portuguese and we can arrange for translators in any other language.