On March 19, USCIS announced that they 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 suspended all premium processing for H-1B petitions due to high demand. Based on feedback from the public, USCIS is using 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 includes all other FY 2020 cap-subject petitions.
At this time, premium processing for H-1B petitions that are exempt from the cap, such as extension of stay requests, remains available.
Pre-paid Mailer Temporary Suspension
Starting on June 10 and continuing through the end of June 24, USCIS will not use pre-paid mailers to send out final notices for premium processing for FY 2020 cap-subject H-1B petitions not requesting a change of status. Instead, USCIS will use regular mail. USCIS will be doing this due to resource limitations as USCIS work to process all premium processing petitions in a timely manner.
The process for printing approval notices and sending them by regular mail is fully automated, whereas using pre-paid mailers requires a separate and more time-consuming manual process. As such, and given the initial surge of premium processing requests for H-1B cap petitions and its impact on USCIS resources, using pre-paid mailers may actually delay the issuance of an approval notice compared to the standard process, or otherwise negatively affect the ability to timely process premium processing petitions. After the two-week period, USCIS intends to resume sending out final notices in pre-paid mailers provided by petitioners, when operationally feasible.