United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has brought back premium processing for certain CAP exempt petitions.
On April 3, 2017, USCIS halted premium processing of H-1B visa petitions, for up to six months. While H-1B premium processing is suspended, petitioners will not be able to file Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing Service for a Form I-129. Prior to the halt, employers can request premium processing of H-1B petitions to ensure that USCIS will review the petition within 15 days at a cost of $1,225. Most non-premium processing types of H-1B petitions are currently averaging 6 to 8 months processing time. This suspension will apply to all H-1B regular cap and master’s cap petitions filed for the FY18 H-1B.
The only option for H-1B employers is that they may submit requests to expedite an H-1B petition if they meet the Expedite Criteria. The employer must meet one of these concerns concerns as “severe financial loss,” “emergency situation” or “humanitarian reasons.”
In fiscal year 2015 (Oct 1, 2014 – Sept 31, 2015), USCIS received 348,699 H-1B petitions, a combination of initial employment, concurrent employment, requests for extension, and amended petitions. Among them, 39% were for initial employment. FY 2015 represents a 9% increase in filing form 2014. However, USCIS approved 275, 317 of all the petitions, a 13% decrease from the previous year.
USCIS also reported that 71% of all H-1B Beneficiaries (a total of 195,347) were India nationals, and the workers from the People’s Republic of China represent the second biggest group – 10% (a total of 26,669) of all beneficiaries. Workers with bachelor’s and master’s degrees made up 45% and 44% of all H-1B beneficiaries respectively. The majority of them were employed in computer-related areas with a median salary of $79,000 a year.