USCIS Suspends H-1B Premium Processing

On Friday evening March 3rd, 2017 the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced an unprecedented temporary halt to a service called Premium Processing for H-1B visas until October 2017.  There was no indication from USCIS that this announcement was forthcoming.  The H-1B process (a new petition or an extension) takes months to prepare, and in the final stage (submitting application by mail) USCIS offers two different types of service: normal processing and Premium Processing (for an additional $1225.)  Premium Processing means that after the application is received by USCIS it generally takes 15 days to adjudicate. OISS has historically relied on Premium Processing because normal processing can take 7-9 months. Essentially this suspension means that anyone who needs to have H-1B status right away must now wait for the normal USCIS H-1B process which takes 7-9 months. OISS posted campus-wide announcements, communicated directly with current H-1B visa holders, registered “ISD” administrators as well as to all of the Deans about this problem. The following are the most typical scenarios of this interruption of Premium Processing:


Individuals outside of the U.S. who need an H-1B:

  • Any new visa requests should be submitted to OISS as soon as possible to allow more time to resolve visa issues
  • OISS will evaluate whether they qualify for alternatives to the H-1B, such as the J-1 and O-1 visas
  • If the only visa option is H-1B these individuals may not be able to travel to the U.S. for 7 to 9 months from the date the H-1B application is submitted to USCIS

Individuals in the U.S. in H-1B status with another employer:

  • Any new visa requests should be submitted to OISS as soon as possible to allow more time to resolve visa issues
  • As long as OISS has filed the change of employer H-1B application, these individuals may begin working at Yale while waiting for the approval (7 to 9 months from the date the H-1B application is submitted to USCIS)
  • International travel may not be possible until the Yale application is approved (7 to 9 months from the date the application is submitted to USCIS)
  • When Premium Processing is reinstated, OISS can add the expedited service if the case has not yet been approved

Employees currently in H-1B status at Yale needing an extension:

  • Departments should request the H-1B extension as soon as possible to allow more time to resolve potential visa issue
  • As long as USCIS receives our extension application before the expiration of their current H-1B status, these individuals can continue to work at Yale while the application is pending for up to 240 days.
  • International travel may not be possible until the Yale application is approved (7 to 9 months from the date the application is submitted to USCIS)
  • When Premium Processing is reinstated, OISS can add the expedited service if the case has not yet been approved

Individuals in the U.S. (at Yale or with another employer) in other immigration status such as F-1 OPT, J-1, J-2 EAD, etc…

  • Any new visa requests should be submitted to OISS as soon as possible to allow more time to resolve visa issues
  • OISS will encourage these individuals to extend their current status (F-1 OPT or J-1) whenever possible
  • If they cannot extend their current status they will need to have at least 9 months remaining in the current status
  • OISS will evaluate whether they qualify for alternatives to the H-1B, such as the O-1
  • If an H-1B is the only option, departments need to submit the materials to OISS ASAP since most cases* will take 7-9 months from the date the application is submitted to USCIS
  • When Premium Processing is reinstated, OISS can add the expedited service if the case has not yet been approved

Updates

There are some indications that the suspension might be shortened to less than six months. OISS will continue to work with our Federal Relations Office and professional associations to request a reversal of this new USCIS suspension of Premium Processing. We will update this website as soon as we learn of any factual information related to the issues.


* individuals subject to the Two-Year Home Residency who do not yet have a Waiver cannot change status to H-1B status