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 of approval. 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. Besides, in the most recent couple of 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 end of September. Also, to add USCIS suspended H1B Premium Processing for FY 2019, 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 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. 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. But, you may not be able to do this for cap subject petitions for FY 2019, as it is not available till September 2018.
- 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 2 to 6 months or more. 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 and continue to update with your status. It will help others get an idea.
How much was your H1B Visa filing processing time ? Any thoughts to share on the processing time waiting ?