Premium Processing 2020 Cancelled Again, Here’s When You Can Expect It Back

Last week was a crucial week for FY 20201 H1-B applicants. United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) closed the initial period for online registrations of H1-B applicants. And it announced the suspension of premium processing service for all H1-B and green card petitions. Effective immediately, anyone filing Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker or a Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker along with Form I-907, i.e. premium processing service will be automatically rejected. No end date for this suspension was announced.

What Does USCIS Say About Premium Processing?

Due to the National Emergency declared by the US government, USCIS has closed all offices including Application Service Centers (ASC) and are operative with minimal Officers. As operations have been brought down to a bare minimum, it also suspended premium processing services for every petition it was applicable for. This includes Form, I-129 Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker or application for an H1-B visa and Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker or a green card application under EB-1, EB-2 and EB-3 visa categories.

Starting March 20, 2020 USCIS stopped accepting Form I-907, petition to expedite processing and will keep this service suspended until further notice. Petitioners who might have already filed a petition using the premium processing service will receive a refund of the premium processing filing fees of $1,440.

How Does This Impact Your H1-B Cap Subject Petition After April 1, 2020?

The suspension of premium processing services applies to –

  • New premium processing requests for all H-1B petitions, 
  • H-1B cap-subject petitions for FY 2021, 
  • Petitions from previous fiscal years, and 
  • All H-1B petitions that are exempt from the cap. 

Are you applying for Premium Processing this year?

Here’s everything you should know

By March 31, 2020 USCIS will announce its selection of H1-B petitioners who can file detailed H1-B petitions for the 2021 lottery cap. Starting April 1, 2020, and until June 31, 2020, they can apply for the lottery cap but not be able to request premium processing. Anyone applying concurrently with Form I-907 will be rejected.

Without premium processing available, petitioners do not have the benefit of getting adjudication of their petitions in 15 days. They will have to wait until all petitions are submitted until June 30, 2020 and have USCIS do the random lottery. This could take until December 30, 2020.

Such delays will cause beneficiaries to join their employer in the US much later than the stipulated October 1, 2020 causing delays in work projects and financial liabilities for the employer.

What to Expect When Premium Processing Resumes? 

Once premium processing resumes for H1B visa petitions for the FY 2021, H1B cap-subject applications will be eligible for a premium processing upgrade if accompanied by Form I-907. They can expect an expedited adjudication of their petitions.

Will you be eligible for Premium Processing this year?

Find out here

However, as done last year for FY 2020 lottery cap, premium processing will be a two-phased approach.The first phase will open up premium process for all cap-subject H-1B petitions, and petitions with advanced degree exemption starting May 27, 2020. The second phase will cover the remaining FY 2021 cap-subject petitions and is expected by June 29, 2020.

Employers should prepare their petitions and fees accordingly.