H1B Visa processing by USCIS can vary a lot depending on the service center you filed with and the processing type. If you are applying for H1B petition with USCIS for the first time or even for transfers, you may be wondering with many questions like below
- 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 no 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?
We will address all of these questions in this article.
If you are new, you can read below articles to get an idea on the general process, meaning of USCIS and H1B Statuses
- How to Check USCIS status online using Receipt Number.
- Understanding H1B Case/Petition Number
- H1B Statuses RFE, Approval, Denial and How to check
What is Regular Processing in context of H1B Visa Filing ?
If an employer filed H1B petition with USCIS by standard process and does not include extra fee to have the petition adjudication( decision ) to be one faster, then that petition is treated to be filed under regular processing.
What is Premium Processing in context of H1B Visa Filing ?
If an employer pays extra premium processing fee to USCIS to have the H1B petition adjudication to be one ( decision ) within 15 calendar days, then that petition is treated to be filed under premium processing. H1B premium processing is a way to expedite processing your application. It costs additional $1,440 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.
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 filed 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 few weeks to few 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. You can check article Check USCIS H1B Visa Processing times
Does USCIS have any turnaround time/ SLA requirements for regular H1B processing ?
Unfortunately, there is no defined turnaround time/ SLA ( service level agreement) requirement for USCIS to respond to H1B petitions filed with them under regular processing. Remember, H1B petition is just one of the type of visa application of what USCIS handles. They have lot of activities that they handle and did not set any SLA for processing of H1B visa petitions for regular processing. The 15 calendar days SLA applies only to petitions filed under premium processing.
Any higher approval chances in Premium processing ?
No, applying for H1B premium processing will not increase your chances for getting H1B petition approved. It just expedites the processing time. So, do not be mislead by the fact that $1,440 will increase chances of approval. Read 5 H1B Visa Myths you need to know
Should you apply for Premium H1B Visa Processing ?
It totally depends on your situation. In recent years, many employers try to file H1B in premium processing because they would know the decision faster and can plan accordingly based on that to have the employee work from October 1st. Having said that, 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. Besides, in the most recent years, premium processing is suspended for cap subject petitions to decrease overall processing times of all petitions. But, unlike new cap subject petition, for H1B Transfer scenarios, employers 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 beginning of August or early September.
Applied for H1B Petition in April , Still USCIS status says “Case Received ”, 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 or more. 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 for general petitions by paying $1,440 and upgrade your case. Your employer has to do the premium processing through the attorney. You cannot do it on your own.
- You can ask your attorney to call USCIS and ask the status. In the past, 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 shortcut.
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 few weeks to 6 months or more in some cases. For current processing times, read this article : How to check H1B visa processing times at USCIS Service centers
H1B Visa FY 2021 Processing timelines – Regular vs Premium ?
USCIS Suspended premium processing for FY 2021. They initially mentioned that they would open premium processing in two phases, but later with the COVID-19 situation, they have cancelled Premium Processing for all H1B petitions, both H1B FY 2021 Cap subject petitions and also non-cap subject petitions such as H1B Transfers, Extensions, Amendments or Non-profit Orgs. Currently, there is no premium processing option available from March 20th, 2020. There is no date given yet on when it will be available. Check H1B FY 2021 Premium Processing Status for current info.
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 ( below link). All the data on our tracker page is contributed by users like you. Please add your H1B case by registering and continue to update with your status. 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 much was your H1B Visa filing processing time ? Any thoughts to share on the processing time waiting ?