From September 11, 2018, the USCIS will suspend premium processing for cap-subject H-1B petitions for an additional 5 months. Furthermore, the temporary suspension – announced back in March – will be expanded to include all H-1B petitions filed at the Vermont and California Service Centers (VSC and CSC), except for certain cap-exempt employer filings and extensions with the same employer without change as noted in the agency’s announcement (https://www.uscis.gov/news/uscis-extends-and-expands-suspension-premium-processing-h-1b-petitions-reduce-delays). The suspension, as part of the USCIS’s effort to remove backlog, is expected to last until February 19, 2019.
Premium processing is a feature designed to shorten the usual processing time for H-1B visas from an average of 6 months to 15 calendar days. The USCIS explains that the temporary suspension will allow the agency to: 1) process long-pending petitions; 2) be responsive to petitions with time-sensitive start dates; and 3) prioritize adjudication of H-1B extension of status cases that are nearing the 240-day mark.