US Citizenship and Immigration Services announced yesterday it will suspend premium processing for all fiscal-year 2019 cap-subject H-1B petitions. The suspension, which includes petitions seeking an exemption for individuals with a US master’s degree or higher, is expected to last until Sept. 10, 2018. The agency begins to accept applications for the 2019 fiscal year on April 2.

The agency will continue to accept premium processing requests for H-1B petitions that are not subject to the 2019 cap, according to the announcement, and it will notify the public of any premium-processing updates.

The agency said the suspension will enable it to reduce overall H-1B processing times and process petitions backlogged due to the high volume of incoming petitions and a significant surge in premium processing requests over the past few years.