How long does H1B visa Petition processing Take

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

In Apply H1B Visa by Kumar3500 Comments

We 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 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?

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.  In case you do not know how to read your H1B case number, read article Understanding H1B Case/Petition Number . -Also,  If you do not the various  H1B application  statues, read :  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 $1,225( 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.

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 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. You can check article  Check USCIS H1B Visa Processing times

Does USCIS have any turnaround time/ SLA requirements for H1B processing?
Unfortunately, there is no defined turnaround time/ SLA ( service level agreement) requirement for USCIS to respond to H1B petitions filed with them. 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 SLA applies to only 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 $1,225 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. To add, USCIS suspended H1B Premium Processing for FY 2018 , so technically you cannot file H1B under premium processing for 2018 season.

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.
  • 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 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 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 ( below link).  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.

H1B Visa Case Tracker

Check out H1B Visa Processing Times with anonymous data from everyone.

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 ?

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Comments ( 3,500 )

  1. Kateryna

    Hi! My H1b extension petition was received by USCIS on April, 4th, then, On June, 5th it was transferred to another office. And it is still no any decision. Based on processing time posted on USCIS website, response should already come… No understanding what to do, no understanding why USCIS has processing times which do not work at all… Who can give any advice?

    1. Ram

      The processing times published in their site are just average ones. It doesn’t mean all the cases filed before that would have an update. You can request your Attorney or Employer to call USCIS customer care and check on this.

      1. Raman

        My case status has changed to “Request for evidence mailed”. I still have not received it, but assuming that I will not see a decision on my H1B before October 1st. I have read at several places that if your cap gap ends on september 30 and H1B is still pending you should stop working. Does that mean that my employer will fire me? or do I need to resign? Or can they send me on an Unpaid leave till the decision is made

  2. Meg

    Hi

    My company filed for my H1b extension which was received by USCIS on 03/28/2017 in regular processing. Its been 6months and status is same “case was received”. In their website it shows CSC is processing 2nd April petitions so why there is no update on my case? can anyone help please.
    Also, company attorney have already emailed/called them but still their is no response.

    1. Ram

      Why don’t you ask your Attorney to raise a SR for your case? SRs would give more insights on whats happening. Probably they are stuck some where in some checks. From my personal experience, I find the processing dates displayed in the site is of no use. I know of cases filed in 2016 & still pending with USCIS. So better to raise SR and follow it up with USCIS. Good luck! Do post your outcome.

  3. Ine

    Is anyone else STILL waiting on the H1B approval/decision? My case has had no movement since the first week of May when it was transferred to a different office. My OPT is running out in the beginning of October and my attorney said I’m unauthorized to work between the OPT expiration and the H1B approval. Is this correct? I thought I would get an automatic extension when the petition is still pending? Thanks in advance!

    1. Raman

      I am still waiting for an update on my H1B petition. My case was not transferred to any other office. The only status I see is “case was received”. I am also running out of my OPT on October 1st.

      1. Ine

        Thanks for your input! I’m really hoping we will hear back asap. It’s not exactly ideal to be here in this country paying rent and bills, not being allowed to work and not knowing how much longer the wait is for the approval. My company has to make arrangements to prepare in the case I need to be out for a couple of weeks while waiting..

    2. Raman

      My case status has changed to “Request for evidence mailed”. I still have not received it, but assuming that I will not see a decision on my H1B before October 1st. I have read at several places that if your cap gap ends on september 30 and H1B is still pending you should stop working. Does that mean that my employer will fire me? or do I need to resign? Or can they send me on an Unpaid leave till the decision is made?

      1. Ram

        Yes after Sep 30th, students on Cap Gap can not work. It depends on the employer. Please discuss with your HR, they would decide on how to handle this. The policy varies from company to company.

  4. Sai

    Hi,

    I have stamped H1B visa valid till 22Nov,2017 . My employer has filed Amendment cum extension on 28Jul,2017(as there is a change in client and location) . Could you please let me know whether I can travel with the old stamped visa ,once I receive the amendment acknowledge receipt . Or do I need to go for stamping after my Amendment cum extension got approves before I travel.

  5. Priya

    Hi,

    My fiance filed for his H1 B extension in Nov 2016 and is still not approved. Am worried… when can I expect it to be approved? Anyone facing similar issues?

    Thanks
    Priya

    1. administrator
      Kumar

      Priya,
      It has been long. You should ask your fiance’s attorney/employer to follow up with USCIS on the status.

      1. Priya

        @ Kumar,

        Thank you. My fiance’s attorney confirmed that it takes about 8 months now a days to get the visa approved… and hence he may receive it by June end. Do you know anyone whose H1 B extension visa has taken this long to get approved?

        Thanks
        Priya

        1. administrator
          Kumar

          Priya,
          I am not sure, how much of that is correct, there are exceptions of course, but not all of them should take that long, unless there was an RFE for the petition. Ideally, after 3 months or so, the employer should upgrade the petition for transfers to avoid delays. The 8 months timeline is probably correct for someone who have filed after April 1st, 2017 because of the cancellation of premium processing. Again, every case is different, ask for more details, if there was an RFE, etc.

          1. Priya

            Hi Kumar,

            My fiance had filed his H1B extension on 15th November 2016 and was accepted by USCIS on 1st December 2016. He followed up with his attorney a week back and got to know that it might come by end of July 2017. He is awaiting his i-797 form… Do you think this much delay is normal?

            Thanks
            Priya

          2. administrator
            Kumar

            Priya,
            Delays can happen, it all depends on case. There are cases that lasted over 8 months too. If you are in urgency, you can consider upgrading to premium…but, I guess that is not available now..so, you have to wait.

    2. Jyo

      My petition is filed on May, 24 2017. when possibly i could get receipt number. It is h1b under cap exempt, stamped in October 2011

  6. Emily Stone

    Great article!!!

    Thank you very much for sharing this detailed post on H1B Visa..It was very interesting and helpful.

  7. Satish

    Hi All,
    I received update as Adjudication from my Company, does this mean case picked in lottery and pending for decision.
    Thanks

  8. Raja

    My Employer has applied for my H1 B extension and application has been Received by USCIS on 2nd August 2016
    the usual non – premium extension would take 2-6 months as per discussions in above thread
    Howe ever its been 9 months since I applied for extension and I hear no status on it.

    What is the maximum turn around time that can take for the Non Premium Extension processing

  9. Senthil

    Hi, my H1B extension application on premium processing was delivered to USCIS office on 31st March 2017. so far my attorney has not received receipt number also… it has been more than 15 calendar days.

      1. Senthil

        Hi Saurabh,
        Attorney said that we need to wait until we hear about receipt number…. They can not call to USCIS and ask for status update based on fedex tracking number… Attorney need atleast receipt number to check with USCIS… not sure how true it is…..
        Thanks for your reply…

        1. administrator
          Saurabh

          Senthil,

          Kind of true. For accurate information, you need the receipt number. Maybe once 30 days have elapsed and no information is received, they can contact USCIS to ask about it. It is possible that USCIS issued the receipt number but it was lost in transit etc.

  10. Gautham

    Hi,

    I have valid H1B stamped visa in my passport till 2019. I did not travelled to US until now. So I transferred my H1b to another employer and got it approved. Can I travel to US on previous employer valid visa and new I797 H1b approval?
    Or do I need to go for stamping again with new employer approval notice?
    I haven’t travelled to US on my first h1b visa.
    Anyone had same situation please reply.

    Regards,
    Gautham

    1. administrator
      Saurabh

      Gautham,

      You can travel using the old visa stamp and new petition, as long as both have not expired and are still valid. When entering US, mention to PoE officer that you will be working for new employer as per new petition; or else they would assume you will be working for the employer as per the visa stamp.

  11. Abhinav

    I submitted my H1b -extension on July 2016, but it is yet to be approved.
    Recently my employed assured me that they have moved my case to Premium just before the deadline of April 3rd,2017.
    But my case status does not reflect any change as to whether it was accepted under premium or not.

    Does it mean that my premium has not been accepted or there is still any chance of getting any updates for my case.

    1. Alap Raval

      Did you get any update about your visa extension? My employer filed for my h1b extension on 2nd September and I am still waiting.

  12. Kapil

    I got my H1 stamped in 2014 but never traveled to the US as my project got delayed etc. In 2016 I left my job and enrolled for a Masters program in US on F1. My H1 was revoked on request of my old company due to my resignation. Now when I look for a job in US, will it be a change of status based on my previously stamped visa or do I have to go through a fresh process of lottery etc

    1. administrator
      Saurabh

      Kapil,

      You should be able to use old petition as reference. So this would be cap-exempt petition + COS from F-1 to H-1.

  13. Ceci

    Submitted my H1B this past week and arrived to USCIS on Friday prior to the April 3rd deadline for premium processing. Do you know how long they are taking right now to issue the receipt? thanks!

    1. administrator
      Saurabh

      Ceci,

      As it was received on Mar 31, it will be considered as PP. So the receipt should be known within a week through email.

      1. Ceci

        Yes. I thought I had posted it before! Sorry if it didnt get through. Per fedex, received on the 31st. USCis sent receipt last wednesday. It was from the California office. Did you track it with Fedex?

        1. H1BTransferPP

          I’m on the same boat, Employer sent h1b transfer through PP on Wed (3/29), should be received on 3/30. Employer forward me scan copy of H1b receipt (from Vermont center) which clearly mentioned that its in PP but received date is Apr 03, 2017. But as of today 4/13, my case status is still showing “Case Was Received and A Receipt Notice Was Emailed”. I never show PP case touching 15 days mark or beyond. As my Employer never shared my fedex number, do think my case was selected for PP as Receipt notice (797C) mentioned Notice Type: Premium Processing. And also online status mentioned “…Receipt Notice Email”, as only PP notice notices sent through email.

          Thanks!

          1. Jit

            Have you received any update on your case. I have same dates and waiting for decision on h1b petition. Today is the 14th calendar day.

          2. Cooleddie

            I am also on the same boat. My transfer case is accepted under PP and I received RFE and my employer submitted RFE response on 30APR and USCIS site also mentions 1st May. But after that till now i.e. 23 May. No updates from USCIS. It has been 3 weeks now…

            Not sure what can be done.

            Anyone, any idea….

  14. Chandra

    Hi,

    I am currently with an employer A and got an offer from employee B, as premium processing is being stopped from Apr 3rd. They have requsted me to join their company once the receipt number is generated. I have below queries

    1. What is the timelines for H1b transfer in regular processing ?
    2. Does USCIS has any SLA or not ?
    3. What is the worst case scenario If my H1b transfer gets rejected ?

    Thanks a lot in advance !

  15. Satya

    Hi,

    I have H1b visa stamped and now my employer is filing an ammendment, Is the premium processing suspended for ammendments as well? how long will it take for an ammendment under regular processing?

    Thanks,
    Satya

  16. Sam

    Hi ,
    My case is in response received status changed on Nov 2016, still waiting. How long it will take to change the status, is that not going to change or need to forget about this.Mine is WAC centre and is this taking long time this year.

  17. Zubi

    I got RFE on my H1-B, sent documents, USCIS case status changed to “Response To USCIS’ Request For Evidence Was Received” on dec 12 2016. When is the last date to get response from USCIS for H1-Bs applied in april 2016. as in March 2017 new cases will be filed for Fiscal yeah 2018.

  18. Suraj

    Hi

    I am on a cap exempt h1b visa with employer A , Now I cap subject employer has given me a position and filed for h1b transfer with all supporting documents. I have never been subject to cap in past, but I have all the documents required for h1b transfer and filed for h1b transfer, will there be any concerns here

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