On March 3, 2017, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) unexpectedly announced they were 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).
For at least the next 6 months, this suspension will impact all NEW job offers requiring an H-1B visa. All department H-1B application requests (cases) that we already have received, and all that we receive over the next 4-6 months, will need to be triaged according to case type, job start date and first in/first out (FIFO).
We will first examine all cases for alternative work visa options, such as F-1 OPT, J-1 Research Scholar or Visiting Professor, TN, O-1, etc. 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 available options.
H-1B transfers and extensions allow an H-1B employee to transfer or continue working as long as we submit a new H-1B petition before the individual's current H-1B validity expires. Therefore, we will triage the processing of these cases based on the required start date for the H-1B petition and first-in/first-out principle.
ALERT: It is not possible for an individual with an expired H-1B petition to return to the U.S. after traveling internationally unless their new H-1B extension/transfer petition is approved.
If your application request was submitted to ISSS on March 7 or later, it is estimated that the earliest possible H-1B visa job start date for new non-transfer cases may be November 2017 or later. To estimate an H-1B visa job start date, add 8 months to the date you supply all documents to ISSS. This estimate includes the 6-10 weeks we need to process the application within ISSS and the additional 6-7 month wait for USCIS's approval.
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 have shifted staff responsibilities within ISSS to dedicate more staff to H-1B cases, and we are working very hard to stay on top of it.
If you wish to discuss your specific situation, please contact one of our Employment-Based Visa Staff Members. We thank you for your patience and cooperation.