As of October 19, 2012, USCIS California Service Center has posted that it is now processing H-1B petitions received on or before June 4, 2012. They are experiencing severe delays in processing because of a backlog of cap subject petitions that need to be processed for Fiscal Year 2013 which runs from October 1, 2012 to September 30, 2013. Each fiscal year, there is a limit for the number of H-1Bs that may be processed and approved for those employers who are subject to the cap. Even though Emory as an institution of higher education is cap-exempt, our cases are being delayed. The Fiscal Year 2013 H-1B cap was met on June 11, 2012. Though many cap petitions have been processed since that date, it is estimated that several thousand have not yet been adjudicated to completion. According to a senior USCIS official, the agency has devoted significant resources to these cases and was expected to complete “preliminary” processing by mid-October, but has not projected when the backlog will be resolved.
The backlog has also delayed the processing of non-cap cases, including applications for H-1B extensions.
What the Delays Mean
For those cases in which we are requesting a change of status or consulate notification, premium processing may be required to process the petition in a timely manner to either keep the person employed after their current status expires or bring them on board.
For those petitions requesting an extension of their H-1B status whether they are employed currently with Emory or transferring to Emory under portability provisions, premium processing may be required to ensure timely application for a driver’s license or to facilitate travel abroad. Even though regulations allow for a person to continue working for 240 days based on a receipt notice evidencing a timely, non-frivolous H-1B petition filing, an approval notice is required when making application for a driver’s license. As well, an H-1B employee must have an approval notice in hand if they plan on traveling outside the U.S.
If premium processing is required for business-related reasons, then the department is required to pay the fee. If it is a matter of personal convenience on the part of the H-1B employee to renew a driver’s license or facilitate personal travel, then the employee may pay the fee.
If you have any questions regarding the status of a pending H-1B petition, feel free to contact Terry Eiesland at 404.727.6224 or firstname.lastname@example.org.