How long does H1B visa Petition processing Take

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

In Apply H1B Visa by Kumar3403 Comments

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.

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 ?

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Comments ( 3,403 )

  1. Ritesh

    I applied for H1B in the year 2008 and that time, while i was selected in lottery, and aproved petion but in 2008, my recruiter mentioned that they will not process my H1 due to market conditions. I do not know any further details on the reason etc. Now when I go back and check, my reciept EAC08****** is in “Case Approved”.
    Never travel to USA and never used my approved petition.

    Now I again Applied for H1B at 3-Aug-2015 under cap-exempt by using previously approved petition, and received case receipt no. But after few month, i received RFE at 5-Apr-2016 and my employer response sent to USCIS on 24-May-2016 but still my case decision is not updated. I just want to know How much still time to USCIS take to give decision? and How much chances of getting approval because some blog told that petition should be apply within 6 years of expire old petition.

    1. administrator
      Saurabh

      Ritesh,

      Do you know what was the reason for RFE? If the >6 year gap was the issue, they would have raised it in the RFE itself.

      Recently, I read few cases where cap-exempt petition was approved even though there was a gap of 10+ years.

  2. Abhishek

    Hello Saurabh,

    My H1B transfer is in progress in Vermont since 20 Jan 2016, do you have any details how long it is going to take more in normal processing.If in case my project ends here and there is no update regarding this H1B Transfer then what options i will have in that Case, my old employer has already revoked the H1B.

    1. administrator
      Saurabh

      Abhishek,

      Look at the processing time for I-129 at Vermont Service Center. That should give an idea. Upgrade to PP if you want a quick result.

    2. Bandaru

      Abhishek, in my case, i have applied for H1 transfer and extension in same Vermont office on 2nd week of Nov2015. Upto last week(1st week of Aug 2016) the status is still in process. Last week i have decided to apply for the premium and filed(amended) the same processing in Premium. In 5 working days, i got my i129 approved(today). Hope this will help you in understanding the processing dates.

  3. Rennie

    Hi Saurabh,

    I am currently on a TN visa with expiration date beginning of this October (same as my passport expiration date). I got the H1B lottery this year and currently my status still says “case was received.” Not sure how long the process takes for my H1B to get approved. I have been travelling between Cad and US. Three questions: 1. When should I renew my TN visa and passport? 2. Since I have been travelling, I need to go to Cad airport after Oct 1 to do the H1B interview in order to make it effective? 3. After I have the H1B approved, can I change job and start working for the new employer right away after they file the H1B transfer?

    Thanks,
    Rennie

    1. administrator
      Saurabh

      Rennie,

      1. What you can do is renew your passport, and then upgrade your H-1 to PP. This way H-1 will be adjudicated by Oct 1 and you can avail it to continue to work in US. If passport is not renewed, RFE would be issued asking for passport extension (I-94 cannot be issued beyond passport expiration date).
      2. Check w/ employer if your H-1 was filed w/ COS. If the same gets approved w/ COS, then no need to get visa stamped immediately. If you have been traveling to Canada and used automatic revalidation and received same I-94, then your COS should not be impacted by your travel.
      3. Yes, you can work for new employer as soon as transfer petition is filed (provided it is after Oct 1).

      1. Rennie

        Hi Saurabh,

        1. The fastest way to renew my passport would be to do it when I travel in Canada. But after I renew it, can I still enter US to work since my TN visa is stamped on my old passport?

        2. What is COS?
        3. Got it, thanks.

        Rennie

        1. administrator
          Saurabh

          Rennie,

          1. In my experience, I have travelled to US with current visa stamped in the old passport. So it should be ok. Passport renewal doesn’t invalidate the unexpired visa in the old passport.
          2. If you enter US on one visa and want to move to another, then COS (change of status) is required. Look-up I-539.

  4. Vashu

    Hi,

    I work for service based MNC reputed company.My employer filed my Petition (H1B Cap Exempt) on 29th April 2016 for Client X, since then the status is ” Case Was Received”. Now recently I changed my client NOT the employer.
    My employer told me to wait for the USCIS decision and once it is approved, I have to go for the LCA change (Bcoz client has changed) which will take 4 to 6 weeks of time. Is that true? There will be only a LCA change, nothing else?

    1. administrator
      Saurabh

      Vashu,

      If the location is changing, then this would mean new LCA and H-1 amendment. LCA would take 2 weeks but amendment could take few months.

  5. Piyush

    Hi Saurabh, my h1b petition got approved in 2015 from employer A buti didnt worked on it and it never got stamped. After that i change my employer but didn’t transfer the petition. I am currently working for employer B. 1 month before i checked my status “petition has been revoked. We sent you the reason.”
    I have my approved i797 copy. Now employer C has filed LCA for me and going to file visa transfer in 2 days with regular processing. They are saying the revoke wont effect. Just want to have your suggestion in this case.

    Thanks in advance.

    1. administrator
      Saurabh

      Piyush,

      If A revoked the petition as you are no longer employed w/ them, then this won’t impact C’s petition.

  6. Yosemite

    Dear Sir,
    I am 28 years old and have 6 years marketing experience. I have master’s degree in public relations. I search for h1b working sponsorship yet could find any company up to now. Do they hide in somewhere else in there? Do you have any advice for me? I know I can succeed there but I am losing my hope day by day…

    Have a great day,

    1. administrator
      Kumar

      Yoesmite,
      Well, H1B sponsorship for marketing roles can be tough at times. Usually, it is the STEM related roles that are more scarce and easy to get sponsorship. Also, with H1B lottery, things are quite difficult. You can try to join an MNC and see, if you can work internally to relocate to US on L1 or get them to sponsor work visa.

  7. Manogna

    Hi Saurabh,

    I travelled to US in 2011 on L2 visa, I got work permit and I worked in US till 2013 June. My Husband L1 extension got denied and we moved back to India.
    Same year 2013 I applied for H1B from company A and it got approved. I went to stamping in India and I got stamped till 2016 Jan 1st. Due to my Gynecology issues I didn’t traveled to US on the stamped H1B. Now company C came forward and applied for an extension on the same petition.
    My case is now in Received status. Since my visa is already expired, I am bit worried. Did you come across this kind of case any time? What is the probability of get it approved.

    Thanks in advance.

    1. administrator
      Saurabh

      Manogna,

      I have come across instances when the original petition was expired but still another employer was able to file cap-exempt petition for the person. So you are safe on that front. There are other things that can go wrong w/ the petition, but not this.

      1. Manogna

        Thanks Saurabh,

        you mentioned some thing might go wrong, Can you please mention what the cases you come across.

        Thanks in Advance,

        Regards,
        Manogna M

        1. administrator
          Saurabh

          Manogna,

          What I meant was there are lot of things USCIS look at when processing the petition like client contract, education evaluation, specialized job position etc. This all could also result in RFE. All petitions are subjected to this and so is yours.

  8. Devlin

    Hi, I am on H1B and am planning to switch the jobs. My new employer says that they are doing Premium Processing for my H1 transfer and they expect the petition to get approved within 2-4 months, from the date of filing the petition.
    I heard that Premium Processing takes 15 calendar days for the process to get completed, if the case is going to be approved then in 15 calendar days, it will be approved.
    Just FYI, my LCA says, case status initiated.
    Kindly advise.

    1. administrator
      Saurabh

      Devlin,

      It should take 15 calendar days from the time USCIS receives the petition, unless RFE is issued. This doesn’t include any preparation time employer/attorney takes. Don’t worry about what employer is saying, this is the official SLA for PP.

      1. Devlin

        Saurabh,
        Filing the petition means – filing for H1B transfer, this doesn’t include the duration for DOL/LCA, etc. right?
        I have shared the documents yesterday itself with the new employer. They told me that LCA is approved, now they would plan to petition for my H1B transfer.
        My colleagues tell me that most of the companies, they take 15 calendar days to complete the whole process. And asked me to be cautious since in my case it’s taking longer than that.
        Thanks.

        1. administrator
          Saurabh

          Devlin,

          Its 15 calendar days from the date USCIS receives the transfer petition I-129. The time it takes before that, depends upon your employer/attorney.

          I don’t know why it would be taking longer in your case. It should still be 15 calendar days.

  9. H1bluck

    Hi Guys, pls let me know when regular process would get approved. my h1b got picket as regular process this year 17. how long the time frame is for this process.
    also my passport is going to expire validity next year.
    but I have given the passport details of old. so should I wait for stamping in old and then renew or now itself I can renew and do stamping in new one. pls advise. thanks.

    1. administrator
      Saurabh

      H1bluck,

      RP may start seeing movement in June and most of them would be processed by Oct. No worry if the passport expires and is renewed. When appearing for interview, carry the renewed passport, if same has arrived.

  10. Nitika

    Hi!
    I have applied for h1b this year through my company in premium category but till date i havn’t got any revert. Does the premium application takes more tha 15 days?

    1. administrator
      Saurabh

      Nitika,

      If the petition was selected in lottery, then it should be processed by May 27. If the petition was not selected in lottery, then there is no 15 day SLA.

      Did your petition make through the lottery?

  11. sim

    Hi Saurabh,

    Need sugesstion from you on my case. I recently moved to UK on Work Permit through my employer based out of India. I had applied for H1B through another employer in USA and got through the lottery this year. Assuming my case get’s approved, do I need to travel to India for H1B VISA stamping? Is there a possibility that I can get my H1B stamped from UK and fly from UK to US instead of making a trip to India?

    Please suggest on which approach will be best for me.

    Thanks in Advance!

    1. administrator
      Saurabh

      Sim,

      You may be able to attend the H-1 interview in UK. However, contact US embassy there to know their policy on TCN (Third Country National). As you are in UK it may work out in your favor.

    2. Josy

      Hi,

      I am in the very beginning of the entire H1B visa process and still in the OPT time after I graduated in early May from a US University. What is the timeline if my employer were to start the H1B application process in September 2016? Would the 2-6 months start from there or do the 2-6 months always start from April 1st? (That’s what I still do not fully understand how the April 1st plays into all)

      My OPT runs out in mid January so I want to make sure I could get the H1B approved by the latest around April. Thanks for any answers in advance!

      1. administrator
        Saurabh

        Josy,

        If you graduated in early May, shouldn’t your post graduation OPT run through sometime around May? Why is it expiring in Jan 2017?

        Earliest date to apply for H-1B would be April 1, 2017. If your OPT runs out in Jan, then you have 60 day grace period that takes you through March, but still won’t grant status until H-1 filing date.

        So you would have to leave US or more to another visa status or enroll in another school (in order to continue to stay inside US).

  12. sim

    Hi Saurabh,

    Need sugesstion from you on my case. I recently moved to UK on Work Permit through my employer based out of India. I had applied for H1B through another employer in USA and got through the lottery this year. Assuming my case get’s approved, do I need to travel to India for H1B VISA stamping? Is there a possibility that I can get my H1B stamped from UK and fly from UK to US instead of making a trip to India?

    Please suggest on which approach will be best for me.

    Thanks in Advance!

  13. Rakesh

    Hi,

    Same question but again can anyone tell me how much time it takes to transfer H1B in regular processing.

    Thanks

    1. administrator
      Saurabh

      Rakesh,

      A new cap-exempt petition (aka H-1 transfer) would take 4-6 months. You can check latest processing time on USCIS site for your processing center.

  14. Mary

    i need help
    I opt is expiring feb 2016. my company would like to sponsor my visa. but we still haven’t applied yet. If I apply this January how fast I can get the paper that I am waiting for H1B
    Can I still stay in USA without any problems?

    1. administrator
      Saurabh

      Mary,

      Are you eligible for OPT extension?

      H-1 can only be applied in April 2016. There is a high probability that there will be random selection of petitions (aka lottery) as the supply is 85K and 150K+ petitions may get filed.

      You need to stop working once your OPT expires and if OPT extension cannot be filed. You will have 60 days to stay inside US once OPT expires, and will be eligible for cap-gap if your H-1 petition gets selected in lottery. This would allow you to stay inside US until Oct 1, but you cannot work as OPT had expired when H-1 was filed.

      Does your employer have an immigration lawyer on payroll?

    2. Sai

      I have been following this blog for two years now, unfortunately I wasn’t lucky to get picked last year. This is a great source of information to all of us.

      My company has applied for my H1 this year under premium processing. I just found out from your blog that USCIS is done with its lottery. I was just curious as to how long will it take for USCIS to inform if my application has been picked or not.

      Thanks

  15. balasubramanian

    Hi,
    I applied for H1B visa,I got selected in the lottery and received the receipt no, still my status not changed. When i can except the status. What will be the last date to find the status or how long i need to wait?

    Thanks,

  16. Pradnya

    Hi,

    Does premium processing mean that I can apply for H1B anytime or it means 15 calendar days after April 1st?
    I will be losing my dependent visa L2-EAD soon due to separation from my husband, and want to know the available options for me to continue working in US.

    Thanks,
    Pradnya

  17. kiran

    Hi Saurabh, I have worked on L1 visa from 2007 till 2013 utilizing entire 5 years. In 2013 employer files H1B and got approved but didn’t go for stamping, took the approval notice and quit the company. The firm i joined have now filed my H1B under out of cap using previous approval, LCA approved for 3 years and received; waiting on USCIS Receipt. Am I eligible for entire 6 years tenure with this current applied petition?

  18. Sal

    Hi,

    I got my EAC number from my employer but when I go to the USCIS website, it says, We have received your case. Nothing else (no name or ID of any sort on there). What does that mean? Have I even been picked? How do I know if that is my case no?

    Thanks

    1. Srikar

      Same here dude, still waiting. But mine is WAC. The consultancy said that, this time it will take a long time, because of some policy shifts, some bs he said. Anxiously waiting.

  19. AbhiM

    Folks, Please tell me if there is a way to find out if my employer really filed my petition. I’m not talking about lottery here. They gave me LCA but that what proof can we ask to check if the H1B petition application is accepted by USCIS?

  20. RakeshP

    Hi Sourabh
    My name picked in lottery in April 10 2014 after that RFE got raised by USCIS and my employer has response back to USCIS on 28th of Aug but still status is same do you have any idea by when should I get the status update by USCIS , it almost 1 year and its difficult to be patient .

  21. Deepika

    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.

  22. Kannan

    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

  23. michael

    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!

  24. keerthi

    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?

  25. Sumit

    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.

  26. madhu

    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.

  27. Adi

    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

  28. Mirza

    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 .

  29. vijay

    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?

  30. sree

    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

  31. Need help!

    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

  32. Prashant

    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.

    1. Rajnish

      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.

  33. Srinivas K

    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.

  34. NeedHelp

    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.

    1. administrator
      Saurabh

      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.

      1. NeedHelp

        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

        1. administrator
          Saurabh

          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.

  35. rahul

    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

    1. administrator
      Saurabh

      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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