CIS Ombudsman Teleconference: Incremental Return of Premium Processing

06/20/2017

Today, the CIS Ombudsman conducted a teleconference with stakeholders on H-1B processing issues. During the call, the panel, which comprised both CIS Ombudsman Office and non-governmental speakers, covered a range of H-1B processing issues.

Most notably, the panel discussed the return of premium processing for H-1B petitions. While the panel did not have any updates on when USCIS will lift the suspension of premium processing, the CIS Ombudsman's Office confirmed comments made by Donald Neufeld, Associate Director of Service Center Operations. Specifically, Neufeld said that USCIS will resume premium processing for H-1B petitions incrementally. While USCIS has not announced the criteria it will use to do so, the panel noted that one possibility is that USCIS may initially resume premium processing for only certain petitioners.

The panel also discussed the following issues:

H-1B Cap Lottery: USCIS has indicated that it should finish returning all rejected FY2018 H-1B cap petitions within a "month or so".
H-1B Processing Times: The panel discussed current USCIS processing times and how the suspension of premium processing is a loss of revenue that USCIS could use to hire additional staff. Also, the Ombudsman's Office agreed that the discrepancy in processing times across service centers is an issue, while noting that USCIS is aware of the problem and is attempting to transfer workloads to address it.
Expedited Processing Requests: One speaker noted that USCIS has been approving expedited processing requests for petitioners in the medical field during the suspension of premium processing.
Targeted Site Visits: The panel discussed USCIS' April 2017 announcement that it would begin targeted H-1B site visits, with a focus on the purpose of site visits, namely to verify basic information included in the H-1B petition such as whether the beneficiary works at the address listed on Form I-129.

Please contact your Goel & Anderson attorney if you have any questions.

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