USCIS Temporarily Suspends H-1B Premium Processing for 6 Months

USCIS Temporarily Suspends H-1B Premium Processing for 6 Months, April 3 – October 3, 2017

On Friday, March 3, 2017, USCIS just issued a statement that they will temporarily suspect premium processing for all H-1B petitions for a 6 month period starting April 3, 2017.
The 6 month suspension for H-1B premium processing will affect H-1B cap cases, and any transfers and extensions that USCIS receives after April 3, 2017.  Because H-1B cap cases cannot be filed and adjudicated before this date, the suspension applies to H-1B regular cap under the bachelor’s degree category, and the master’s advance degree cap.  USCIS reports that they are understaffed, overworked and backlogged, hence the reason for the suspension, to afford themselves the ability to catch up on all cases.
This will mean that for all H-1B cap cases, paper receipt notices are likely to come in around the end of April through the end of May.  Cap cases will be adjudicated prior to the effective start date of October 1, 2017.  USCIS will refund the premium processing filing fee if the case was filed before April 3, 2017, and if they did not take adjudicative action on the case within the 15 calendar day processing period.
For transfer cases, candidates may start working upon the paper receipt notice with the company.  However, it would be several months before the approval notice is issued.
Employees filing for H-1B extensions would be able to continue working for up to 240 days beyond the expiration date while the case is pending at USCIS.  We may file extensions 6 months prior to the expiration date at earliest.  As the extensions are taking several months for adjudication, we recommend filing as early as possible, as we understand that the ability to renew drivers licenses and travel internationally could be delayed.
Note that this temporary suspension of premium processing does not apply to other eligible nonimmigrant work visa classifications or employment-based immigrant petitions.