Recently, USCIS announced that it would begin accepting H-1B applications for the 2017 Fiscal Year, along with petitions seeking an exemption for individuals with a U.S. master’s degree or higher, and requests for premium processing.
The premium processing service, which commits the USCIS to a 15-day processing service period, will begin May 16, 2016, and to be eligible for premium processing, an applicant must apply for premium processing before May 16, 2016. Premium processing may be requested along with the filing of the initial petition or if the employer has a receipt notice, it may “upgrade” an already pending H-1B petition to premium processing by filing a separate request. Premium processing doesn’t guarantee a decision within 15 days. Rather, it means that action will be taken on a case within 15 days.
The cutoff date for applying for premium processing has been put in place this year due to the historical premium processing receipt levels, combined with the with the fact that the H-1B cap for the fiscal year was met within the first 7 days of the filing season.
H-1B visas are used by United States businesses to employ foreign nationals in occupations that require specialized knowledge in the fields of science, engineering, and computer science. The number of visas allocated in 2017 has been capped at 65,000 for regular H-1B visas, and an additional 20,000 visas are available for specialty occupations.
To stay informed on updates, H-1B applicants are encouraged to subscribe to email updates on the USCIS website.