U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recently announced that although it would begin accepting petitions for H-1B visas subject to the Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 cap, it also was suspending premium processing for all FY 2019 petitions subject to the cap, including those petitions seeking an exemption for individuals with a master’s degree or higher. However, USCIS will continue to accept premium processing requests for H-1B visa petitions that are not subject to the cap during this time period. It is unclear when USCIS will reinstate premium processing of the H-1B visa petitions subject to the cap.
According to USCIS, suspending the premium processing of these visa petitions will help reduce overall H-1B visa petitions processing times. The agency claims that the temporary suspension will allow it to process long-standing petitions that it previously has been unable to process due to the influx of petitions, and particularly those seeking premium processing, as well as prioritize the processing of H-1B visa extension of status cases that are nearing the 240-day mark.
Nonetheless, USCIS still will accept a request to expedite a H-1B visa petition that that is subject to the FY 2019 cap, so long as the petitioner can demonstrate that he or she can meet one of the criteria set forth by USCIS. The petitioner typically should present documentary evidence in support of the request to expedite, which USCIS will consider on a case-by-case basis. These criteria include one or more of the following:
· Severe financial loss to a company or person
· Emergency situations
· Humanitarian reasons
· Nonprofit organization whose request is in furtherance of the cultural and social interests of the U.S.
· Department of Defense or national interest situation
· USCIS error
· Compelling interest of USCIS
Whether you are seeking a visa to enter the U.S., an undocumented immigrant already living in the U.S., or seeking to adjust your current immigration status, we are here to help you with your immigration case. We will devote all of our efforts to representing your interests, answering your questions, and calming your concerns. Don’t hesitate to contact Peek & Toland and schedule a time to meet with us today. We can help protect your rights and get you the relief that you need.