March 26, 2020
USCIS TEMPORARILY SUSPENDS PREMIUM PROCESSING FOR ALL PETITIONS FILED ON FORMS I-129 AND I-140
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced on 03/20/2020 that it has temporarily suspended premium processing service for all Form I-129 petitions (including H-1B and O-1 petitions) and I-140 petitions (immigrant/permanent residence petitions) until further notice due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Premium processing provides expedited processing for eligible immigration petitions. When available, premium processing guarantees a response from USCIS within 15 calendar days from the date the petition is receipted. Under regular processing, USCIS generally takes several months to adjudicate a petition.
For more information, visit the USCIS website.
Impact on Rutgers’ H-1B, O-1 and Permanent Residence Petitions
Currently Pending Petitions -
USCIS will continue to premium process any currently pending petitions as long as the I-907 request was received by USCIS on or before March 20th. USCIS will reject the I-907 and return the $1,440 filing fee for all petitions requesting premium processing that were mailed before March 20 but not yet accepted.
Impact on Extensions and H-1B Change of Employer Petitions -
Regulations offer several provisions that allow certain non-immigrant visa holders to continue working based on a pending petition:
- H-1B and O-1 Extensions (240 Day Automatic Extension) – As long as an extension petition has been filed before their status expires, H-1B and O-1 non-immigrants can continue working while their petitions are being processed for a period not to exceed 240 days. If the extension petition remains pending more than 240 days beyond the expiration of the employee’s immigration status, s/he must stop working until the petition has been approved. Approval before the 240-day mark cannot be guaranteed.
- H-1B Employees Changing Employers (Porting) - An H-1B employee who is changing H-1B employers may begin working for the new employer as soon as the new employer files a Form I-129 petition on behalf of the employee and the petition has been receipted by USCIS. The new employee may continue working through the adjudication of the petition.
- Please note that there is a difference between the 240-day rule (which applies to extensions) and the portability provision (which applies to H-1B change of employer petitions). When Rutgers files an H-1B change of employer petition for a new employee, s/he can continue working during the entire adjudication process, well beyond the maximum 240 days allowed for extensions.
Impact on New Hires Coming from Abroad -
The suspension of premium processing will delay the ability of new H-1B hires to apply for their visas (if they are currently outside of the U.S.). While premium processing is suspended, it may take up to eight (8) months or longer for USCIS to approve an H-1B petition. If your department is in the process of hiring a candidate who is currently abroad and requires an H-1B visa, we recommended that you contact Rutgers Global - ISSS office to discuss your specific situation as it may be necessary to adjust the start date to accommodate this longer processing time.
Impact on New Hires Changing Visa Status within the U.S. -
The suspension of premium processing will delay the approval of any change of status petitions (i.e., those switching from F-1 status, J-1 status, etc. to H-1B while in the U.S.). If the H-1B petition is not approved before the beneficiary’s current work authorization expires, s/he must stop working until the H-1B change of status is approved.
Impact on Employer Petitions for Permanent Residence (Form I-140) -
The suspension of premium processing also applies to immigrant visa petitions for employees eligible for Rutgers sponsorship for permanent residence. Accordingly, departments are encouraged to start the permanent residence (green card) sponsorship as early as possible.
USCIS ANNOUNCES FLEXIBILITY IN SUBMITTING REQUIRED SIGNATURES DURING COVID-19 NATIONAL EMERGENCY
Due to the ongoing COVID-19 National Emergency, USCIS will temporarily accept all benefit forms and documents with reproduced original signatures. This means that a document may be scanned, faxed, photocopied, or similarly reproduced provided that the copy must be of an original document containing an original handwritten signature. Please note USCIS will not accept electronic signatures (only copies of hand-written signatures).
Any documents that require department signatures can be scanned, faxed, photocopied, or similarly reproduced. Rutgers Global – ISSS will continue to require hard copy filing fee checks.
USCIS has reserved the right to request original documents at a later date. Departments must retain original signed documents or send them to Rutgers Global – ISSS in case they are requested by USCIS.
For more information, please see https://www.uscis.gov/news/alerts/uscis-announces-flexibility-submitting-required-signatures-during-covid-19-national-emergency.
RUTGERS GLOBAL - ISSS WILL CONTINUE TO OPERATE AND ACCEPT MAIL
Please be reassured that Rutgers Global – ISSS continues to operate and is available to assist with your requests. However, in light of Governor Murphy’s Executive Order 107 (Stay at Home Order), our staff will be primarily working remotely. We recommend contacting us via email if you require assistance or by phone at 848-932-7800.
We will also continue to monitor and pick up mail deliveries from ASB II. However, we anticipate that there may be some service disruptions on the part of USPS, UPS, etc. If you have sent any packages by mail, please allow some additional time for us to receive them.
If you intend to deliver H-1B packets or any other documents (less than 1” thick) directly to our office, you may do so by dropping them off through a mail slot at the front entrance of 30 College Ave.
If you have any questions regarding this update or any particular case you are working on, please contact Rutgers Global – ISSS at 848-932-7800. You may also reach a faculty and scholar adviser directly by email or by sending an email to our general e-mailbox at email@example.com.