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ISSS Procedures for Processing H-1B Cases in Light of USCIS Announcement of Suspension of Premium Processing Service as of April 3, 2017

On March 3, 2017, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) unexpectedly announced they are suspending “Premium Processing” for all H-1B petitions for up to 6 months (effective April 3). Premium Processing is the expedited processing service under which USCIS assures adjudication of an H-1B petition within 15 calendar days of submission for an extra $1,225 fee (as opposed to the standard processing that currently takes 7-8 months).

This suspension will impact all job offers requiring an H-1B for at least the next 6 months, including all requests currently pending and those submitted to ISSS in the next 6 months. If your application request was submitted to ISSS on March 7 or later, it is estimated that the earliest possible job start date for new non-transfer cases may be November 2017 or later.

ISSS will triage and examine all application requests (cases) that had already been initiated by departments prior to March 7, 2017. We will also examine all cases for alternative work visa options, such as F-1 OPT, J-1 Research Scholar or Visiting Professor, TN, etc.

Because we normally take a minimum of 4 weeks to process a case, and we already have more H-1B application requests than we can submit to USCIS before April 3, ISSS must prioritize our response. We will sort the cases we had already received by the type of case and whether they need to be submitted before April 3, or can be submitted after that date.

Our current plan for prioritizing H-1B cases that have been received by ISSS is as follows:

Situation 1: H-1B Cases Initiated with ISSS (Starter Kit Email Received) Prior to March 7

Priority #1: We will make every effort to file change of status cases and new consular processing cases needing premium processing before the April 3 deadline. To do this, the employing department will need to send all case documents to ISSS by March 10.

Priority #2: H-1B extension and transfer cases will be assigned a lower priority until after April 3. As we simply need to submit these cases before the current H-1B status expires, these cases do not need premium processing for the individual to start/continue working for the University. However, it is not possible for an individual with an expired H-1B petition to return to the U.S. after traveling internationally unless their H-1B extension/transfer petition is approved.

Situation 2: H-1B Cases Not Initiated with ISSS Prior to March 7

We regret that we will not be able to handle new cases where the case needs to be submitted with premium processing before April 3 in order for H-1B employment to begin by the desired start date. We advise that departments should contact a private immigration attorney soon to see what timeline is possible (please email us if you would like a list of local immigration attorneys who have done business with the U of M).

If you have hired or will be hiring a tenure-track faculty member with an August 2017 start date, please contact us immediately to discuss the best options.

Situation 3: H-1B Cases Pending at USCIS

If you have a case that has been pending at USCIS without premium processing and you now want to add premium processing, you must submit a PP check to ISSS by March 24. Contact us if you need to discuss this further.

We understand that this change has significant negative implications for many, and we will do our best to work with you in the face of this unprecedented hurdle to the hiring of H-1B employees. We are already adapting our processes to address this situation, and we are working very hard to stay on top of it.

If you wish to discuss your specific situation, please contact Tracee Senti (tsenti@umn.edu) or one of our other Employment-Based Visa Staff Members.

GPS