Effective Monday, June 26, 2017, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has resumed premium processing of H-1B petitions filed for physicians who have been granted a waiver of their J-1 two-year home residency requirement, under the Conrad 30 waiver program or via an interested government agency. 

Premium processing for all other H-1B petition types remains temporarily suspended. USCIS has indicated it will bring H-1B premium processing online gradually as more resources become available. The agency is currently training adjudicators to handle the increased workload. The suspension of premium processing was put in place on April 3, 2017, in order for USCIS to clear out a substantial backlog of H-1B petitions.

The agency plans to gradually phase in H-1B premium processing by case types, likely adding extension petitions, then cap-exempt filings, and finally cap-subject cases. USCIS officials have not provided a definitive timeline, though the suspension is not anticipated to last beyond the originally projected six months.

This is good news for medical facilities that rely upon foreign national physicians who are beneficiaries of Conrad 30 waivers, serving in medically underserved areas or supporting medically underserved populations. The lifting of the premium processing suspension for Conrad 30 waiver recipients is critical to ensuring these physicians can begin their medical service shortly after completing their residency or fellowship programs, which often end on June 30th. 

What Does this News Mean for Employers and Their Foreign National Workers?

Employers sponsoring H-1B's for beneficiaries of the Conrad 30 waiver program or interested government agency waivers may request premium processing of these petitions by submitting Form I-907 and its required fee.

The immigration practice at Lewis Brisbois will continue to monitor the suspension of the premium processing program and provide updates as soon as they become available.

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