Due to the COVID-19 emergency, employers should expect a delay in data entry and receipt notice issuance for FY 2021 H-1B cap cases. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) today announced that it will not begin to perform intake processing on these cases until at least May 1, 2020.
The agency states that required COVID-19 health and safety protocols are the reason for the delay.
A Closer Look
Once USCIS begins data entry, cases will undergo intake processing in the order in which they were received at Service Centers. Petitions are date-stamped on the date they arrive at the Service Center and will retain that receipt date for continued processing.
USCIS notes that the receipting delay will also result in an adjudication delay for FY 2021 cap cases. The agency notes that it is aware that some H-1B cap petitions are time-sensitive, such as F-1 change of status cap-gap petitions, and that it will strive to process these petitions as efficiently as possible. However, it has not offered any projections for completion of these adjudications.
As a reminder, premium processing has been suspended for all I-129 petitions, including H-1B cap petitions. The 15-day expedited service will not be available until further notice.
USCIS also noted in its announcement that there will be no extension of the 90-day H-1B cap filing window, which currently ends on June 30, 2020. Employers must file FY 2021 H-1B cap petitions within this timeframe.
What this Means for Employers and Foreign Nationals
Employers filing FY 2021 H-1B petitions should expect delays in the issuance of filing receipts, which identify the petitions as properly filed and taken in for USCIS processing, as well as delays in the adjudication of the H-1B petitions.
Employers and foreign nationals with time-sensitive cap filings should work with their legal team to continue to track relevant expiration dates, including employment authorization expirations, status and grace period expirations, and any others that might affect the employment or status of a foreign national. In light of USCIS’s processing delays and premium processing suspension, these expiration dates should be carefully monitored to avoid or minimize any negative impact.