On June 10, USCIS will begin premium processing for all remaining FY 2020 H-1B cap-subject petitions. Starting on that date, the sponsoring employer may file Form I-907 with the USCIS service center that is processing the petition in order to upgrade.
On March 19, USCIS had previously announced that it would offer premium processing in a two-phased approach during the FY 2020 cap season to best manage premium processing requests without fully suspending it. In the past few years, USCIS had suspended all premium processing for H-1B petitions due to high demand. Based on feedback from the public, USCIS allowed this phased approach to benefit petitioners and ensure efficient premium processing. The first phase, which started on May 20, included FY 2020 cap-subject H-1B petitions requesting a change of status, and the second phase beginning on June 10th includes all other FY 2020 cap-subject petitions.
Once the I-907 is received by USCIS, the 15-day clock begins. USCIS should either approve the petition or issue a Request for Evidence within 15 days (RFE). If an RFE is issued, the 15-day clock begins again once USCIS receives the response to the RFE. When upgrading, the receipt number remains the same. The employer or attorney should receive an email notification within a few days of USCIS receiving the upgrade. A paper receipt follows in the mail about a week later. Keep in mind that receiving an early approval does not mean that the H-1B will have an earlier start date. The approved petition will still not become valid until October 1, 2019. The benefit of premium processing is that the H-1B beneficiary can schedule the visa interview at the U.S. consulate and allow sufficient time to receive the visa stamp in the passport in order to enter the U.S. on October 1st to begin employment in H-1B status.
There is a common misconception that premium processing causes RFEs and denials. I have not found this to be the case and recommend my clients to file in premium processing whenever possible.
This is welcome news for businesses and high-skilled workers who would otherwise expect delays in being able to begin H-1B employment on October 1, 2019.