US: Premium processing of FY 2017 H-1B cap petitions to begin no later than May 16

Premium processing of FY 2017 H-1B cap cases will be postponed until no later than May 16, 2016, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has announced.  Employers will be able to request premium service for H-1B cap cases when the filing season opens on April 1, but the agency will not begin working on those cases until May 16 at the latest.

USCIS is delaying the start of the 15-day premium processing clock so that it can focus on initial intake, data entry and receipting of the large number of petitions it expects to receive between Friday, April 1, and Thursday, April 7, 2016, the critical window for the FY 2017 H-1B cap filing season.

What This Means for Employers

USCIS’s announcement means that employers requesting premium service may not see agency action – i.e., an approval, request for evidence (RFE) or denial – on their H-1B cap petitions before Tuesday, May 31, though USCIS could begin cap premium processing earlier than anticipated.

The agency did not address the status of premium processing for other eligible case types.  It is expected to remain generally available, though delays during the busy cap season and beyond cannot be ruled out.

Stuart Beaty

Celsium, Birmingham, UK