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How long does H1B Visa Processing take? Petition Premium vs. Regular ?

How long does H1B Visa  Processing Time take Regular petition vs Premium

I have been writing about H1B visa related stuff for a very long time on this blog and tracking H1B visa  updates with graphs and analysis. Few of  THE Most commonly asked question on the blog are:

  • I have applied for H1B on April 1st. Still my status is “Initial review”, How long does USCIS take ?
  • USCIS received my H1B petition three months ago, still not response. I am worried. Can you tell me how long will they take ?
  • My employer says they filed in June, still no reply from them? How long will they take?
  • What is H1B visa processing time ?
  • Can I contact USCIS and upgrade my H1B visa processing ?
  • Will upgrading to Premium get me decision quicker? I filed as regular processing.
  • Does USCIS have any turnaround time on regular processing application? Why do they take so long?

I can keep on writing various versions of the questions. Let me share few things which I have replied to over and over again on the blog comments. If you know the answers to above, do not read any further…it is just for those who do not know anything.  If you do not the various  H1B application  statues, read :  H1B Statuses RFE, Approval, Denial and How to check

How long does USCIS take to process H1B visa petition Regular processing ?

There is no correct answer to this question. The answer to this question depends on the case and location. Every case in unique and every location has its own processing times.  The typical duration for processing any H1B visa application can take anywhere from 2 to 6 months. The best case scenario is :  H1B  visa approval decision can take less than 2 months. The worst case scenario for the decision from USCIS can be as long as 6 months or more.

Does USCIS have any turnaround time requirements for H1B processing?

Unfortunately, as per my knowledge, there is no turnaround time requirement for USCIS to respond to H1B petitions. Remember, H1B petition is just one immigration aspect of what USCIS handles. They have lot of things going on…They do not set any  deadlines for processing one H1B visa petitions unless you file under premium processing

What is H1B premium processing ? Approval chances High in Premium processing ?

H1B premium processing is a way to expedite processing your application. It costs additional $1,225( fee increased in Nov 2010 )  and the turnaround time is 15 calendar days.  The goal of premium processing is that USCIS will have a decision of your case within 15 days.  Applying for premium processing will not increase your chances for getting H1B approval notice. It just expedites the processing. So, do not be mislead by the fact that $1,225 will increase chances. Read 5 H1B Visa Myths you need to know

 

Should you apply for Premium H1B Visa Processing ?

Honestly, unless there is a need, you do not need to apply for premium processing. Think of it logically, you cannot work until October 1st…why waste money ? I understand the decision part for preparation and other stuff.  Unless, there is a need there is no point. H1B transfers usually apply for premium because of two reasons, first they can work right away and need not wait till October 1st and secondly they are changing between companies, you do not want to be stuck with old employer during this time. You can consider doing premium, when you are at the end of September.

Applied for H1B Petition in April , Still USCIS status says “Initial review ”, What should I do ?

Well, unfortunately, there is nothing you can do but wait for USCIS to process your application. As I said above, it can take anywhere from 2 to 6 months. All you can do is wait. Do NOT panic that you are not getting any response from USCIS. As long as your application was filed properly and the company is good, you should get approval.

Here are few things  you can do:

  • If you are really curious, you may apply for H1B visa premium processing anytime. You can pay $1,225 and upgrade your case. Your employer has to do the premium processing through the attorney. You cannot do it on your own.
  • Some say, I do not know personally, you can ask your attorney to call USCIS and ask the status. One of our blog readers said, they had success and their application decision was done in a week after calling. Although, there is no guarantee. Worth a shot.
  • You can check the particular service center where your petition was filed and get approximate processing times to get an idea. You can do this on USCIS website it is under bottom where you check your case status.
  • Just wait. I understand the anxiety…but there is no go.

How long does H1B transfer take ? Any difference in processing time ?

In fact, there is no difference between a regular H1B petition and transfer except the transfers are not considered towards cap. So, the processing times are same. Anywhere from 2 to 6 months. For current processing times,  read this article : How to check H1B visa processing times at USCIS Service centers

Is there any H1B tracker where users added their case and I can get an idea of times ? 

You can check out the average H1B Visa processing times using our H1B Visa Tracker.  All the data on our tracker page is contributed by users like you. Please add your H1B  case by registering. It will help others get an idea. We will launch graphs soon.

Hopefully, this clarifies most of the commonly asked questions about H1B processing. If you see anyone ask a question on the blog, please point them to this article.

How as your H1B Visa filing processing time ?

 

3352 comments… add one

  • Deepika Dec 10, 2014 Reply

    Hi,

    My name is Deepika, right now I’m in H4 visa. I have a 5.5 years experience as a Medical Transcriptionist. Can you please provide me details on how to process H1 visa so that I shall work.

  • Kannan Nov 10, 2014 Reply

    Hi Saurab :

    I was working for a biotech company under a H1B. I filed for a EB2 and got my petition approved in 2011. I got laid off a month ago and converted my H1B to H4 on my wife’s H1B. I would like to know if a potential employer decides to hire me and they file a new H1B, how long will it take for me to start working for the new employer. Lets assume that they do it by premium processing. As I am already “counted for” is it possible to start working for them as soon as the receipt (acknowledgment) comes?

    Thanks in advance!
    Kannan

  • michael Nov 8, 2014 Reply

    Hi,
    I got first H1b approved from 2006 to 2009 ,second one transfered and got from 2008 to 2011…I am in india from then.now applying with new job in Minnesota.. Do I come under California Service Center?..Do I belong to cap exempt or H1B transfer?how much time would it take under Premium Processing?
    Expecting your reply at the earliest!
    Thanks in Advance!

  • keerthi Nov 6, 2014 Reply

    Hi Saurabh,

    My H1 is in RFE response review status from 23rd Sept 2014. Will it be a good idea to upgrade it to premium at this point in time? Will I get petition hard copy to India office in 15 business days? or will i get to know only about my approval/Denial?
    I heard in PP we will get to know the USCIS decision through email. Will they also send the petition papers through email using which can I go for VISA stamping instead of waiting for hard copy?

  • Sumit Nov 4, 2014 Reply

    Hi, I need some clarification on my situation. My employer filed my H1b last year and I got approved for only one year, which got expired in end of September. However, my employer has filed for the extension too and I am waiting for its approval. So, in this period of time, can another employer file my H1b? or I have to wait unless I get approval for current application before filing it by another employer? Thank you in advance for your help.

  • jaya Oct 15, 2014 Reply

    How much time will it generally take for H1B exempt COS visa approval?

  • madhu Sep 22, 2014 Reply

    I have transferred my h1b as previous company is in legal trouble. I have applied for premium processing and its been 2 1/ months and the status in in initial review. Please let me know what to do. contacted then and there is nothing unusual happening.

  • Adi Sep 3, 2014 Reply

    Hi Saurabh,

    if the H1B application is not filed in Apr 2014, Can my employer file a H1B Premium application in mid of the year or any month of the year.
    Or Does H1B premium also should be approved by a lottery only.

    Thank you.
    Adi

  • Mirza Aug 26, 2014 Reply

    I am on b1/b2 visit visa in USA. I have a job offer and want to apply for h1 visa. My visit visa entry in USA is expiring on 1 st nov 2014. Do I have to go back to my home country if my h1 is not approved before my current date of stay I’m USA . Or I can stay here under legal status till the decision by USCIS .

  • vijay Jul 9, 2014 Reply

    My number has been picked in this year h1b lottery but still it is under initial review. i have been notified by my company on April 27 2014. how long do you think it will take?

  • sree Jul 5, 2014 Reply

    Hi Saurabh,

    I have h1b. Working with company A. Now i wants transfer to company B. Still process not yet started. Meanwhile Can i apply H4 visa for my dependents using company A details and I797B. If they get visa stamping weather they can travel using my new I 797B. Pls confirm.

    Regards
    sree

  • Need help! Jul 3, 2014 Reply

    Hi saurabh,
    Need help
    Company A file my H1B visa as mechanical engineer valid till 2016, i got offer with company B in software field and company B already file my h1b transfer and received receipt notice. with receipt notice I started working with company B from 25th June 2014 But they file visa in IT field.
    Now I have offer in mechanical field from company C.
    My questiones are
    1) can I get h1b approval from company B as they file my visa from non IT to IT field.
    2) I want to join the company C, could they apply for H1 transfer. or they have to
    wait for h1 approval from company B.
    3) can company C proceed for H1 transfer with company A approved petition.

    SP

  • Prashant Jun 1, 2014 Reply

    I have applied for H1B this year being with company A and got selected in lottery. I had put papers and leaving company A and going to join company B.Could you please tell me if after joinig company B my application for H1B would be valid or in any case I can have it transferred along with me from company A to B.

    • Rajnish Jun 1, 2014 Reply

      You would need the approval notice to transfer it smoothly to B. Now that you have resigned it would be difficult to get approval notice from Employer A.

  • Srinivas K May 6, 2014 Reply

    Hi Saurabh,

    This year my petition got selected in lottery; currently am working for company A and processed the h1 with company B. If everything goes fine and I get a visa for company B, shall I transfer my h1 to company A and continue my services there. Means without travelling to USA.

    Reason for this approach is, in company A I may get a permanent position where as in company B I have to work as a consultant, which I don’t want to, even though I have gratitude towards this guy.

  • Rahul Apr 28, 2014 Reply

    Hi,
    when can we expect the response from USCIS for Regular processing?

    Regards
    Rahul

  • NeedHelp Apr 17, 2014 Reply

    Saurabh,
    I applied for H1B in the year 2008 and that time, while i was selected in lottery, my recruiter mentioned thta they will not process my H1 due to markert conditions. I do not know any further details on the reason etc. Now when I go back and check, my reciept WAC0814954086 is in “Initial review”. Can I do anything about it now in terms of getting it processed, instead of reentering into lottery? Please let me know.

    Thanks for your help on this.

    • Saurabh Apr 17, 2014 Reply

      NeedHelp,
      As the petition is approved, another employer can file a cap-exempt petition for you on the basis of previously approved petition. This can be done within 6 years of original approval date (which I assume is Oct 1, 2008). You don’t need to go through the cap until then. Once 6 years elapse, you have to go through the cap again.

      • NeedHelp Apr 17, 2014 Reply

        Sourabh,

        Thanks a lot for your response…this gave me tons of hope. However I am a bit confused. You said “since you petition is approved”, as it is still in “initial review”, did petition approval meant, passing through the lottery? H1B is actually not approved yet. Please help in clarifying this as well. Thanks again.

        Regards,
        Gnana

        • Saurabh Apr 17, 2014 Reply

          NeedHelp,
          My mistake. I read your post incorrectly. If your petition has not been approved, then another employer cannot use that application for cap-exempt purposes. You need to go through the cap again, which now opens in April 2015.

          • NeedHelp Apr 17, 2014

            Thanks Sourabh for clarifying.

            Regards.

  • rahul Apr 16, 2014 Reply

    Hi Saurabh,

    This is rahul, I have valid H1B visa till Sep. 2014 from company A But I never traveled to US. I resigned company A and joined company B. Now I approached Company C for Visa transfer and company C agreed for transfer visa on premium processing. I would like to know since I resigned from Company A (who processed my Visa. will it be any issue if company C transfer my visa. And company C told that no need to go for Visa stamping again they will provide new petition.

    Also let me know what would be the cost for H1B visa transfer on premium process.

    Regards,
    Rahul

    • Saurabh Apr 17, 2014 Reply

      Rahul,
      It should be ok. C can file for cap-exempt petition using A’s petition. Although you don’t need to go for visa stamping again, it is your call whether to go or not.

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