AUTHOR:  Rebecca Massiatte.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) has announced a temporary adjustment to its premium processing practice for H-1B petitions for the fiscal year (FY) 2014. Requests for premium processing (15-calendar-day processing time, subject to USCIS request for additional evidence/information) of cap-subject H-1Bs received between April 1 and April 14, will be adjudicated starting April 15, 2013. Premium processing for non-cap H-1Bs and all other cases will begin as normal, when the request is received.

This move is necessary, USCIS explains, because it anticipates that it may receive more than 65,000 cap-subject H-1B petitions and more than 20,000 petitions filed on behalf of individuals with a U.S. master’s degree or higher between the first day petitions are accepted, April 1, 2013, and April 5, 2013. Should this happen, FY 2014 could be the first time since April 2008 that the H-1B cap will require a lottery.

USCIS will accept Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing Service, with fee, concurrently with the Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker, during the period that premium processing is unavailable (from April 1 to April 14).  Employers also may upgrade a pending H-1B cap petition to premium processing once a receipt notice is issued. All requests for premium processing received between April 1, 2013, and April 14, 2013, will be adjudicated when premium processing begins on April 15, 2013.

We strongly urge employers to consult with their Jackson Lewis immigration counsel to plan the filing of the necessary petitions.  We will continue to provide updates on the H-1B cap.