Home » US Immigration - Visas » H1B Visa » GUIDE to H1B Visa Processing Times: Premium vs. Regular

GUIDE to H1B Visa Processing Times: Premium vs. Regular

H1B Visa processing by USCIS can vary a lot depending on the service center you filed with and the processing type you have chosen. If you are applying for an H1B petition with USCIS for the first time or even for transfers, you may wonder about the processing times, delays, typical processing times, if there is SLA, and many such questions. In this article, we will review all those details and also cover common FAQs as well.

If you are new to the H1B Visa process, you can read the below articles to get an idea of the general process, the meaning of USCIS’s H1B Statuses, and receipt numbers.

H1B Processing Time – Types

H1B Visa Processing time with USCIS varies based on the type of processing that the employer or sponsor chooses when they file the H1B petition. There are two types of processing :

1. regular processing

2. premium processing.

An employer can file in one of these processing types when they file any of the following with USCIS. Below are some of the common options to file H1B visa:

  • New H1B cap-subject petitions (filed after selection in H1B Lottery)
  • H1B transfer petitions
  • H1B amendments
  • H1B Extensions.

Sometimes, USCIS also suspends premium processing during the start of the H1B season in April to handle the high volume, and they open the same in phases. Now, let’s look at each of the processing types in detail.

H1B Regular Processing Time (cap-subject)

If an employer or sponsor files an H1B petition with USCIS using the standard process and does not include an extra fee for faster processing, then the petition is said to be filed in Regular Processing. It is typically when the applicant goes through the H1B lottery and files for an H1B petition after selection.

H1B Regular Processing Documents, Fee

In general, an employer would submit USCIS Form I-129 along with relevant H1B Filing Fee, and supporting documents as listed in H1B Filing Checklist by USCIS. There is no filing of Form I-907 or additional premium processing fee, when you file in regular processing.

How long does USCIS take for H1B Regular processing?

There is no fixed time or SLA ( service level agreement) time defined by USCIS for H1B Regular processing. It depends on the filing location and the load at the USCIS processing center. Also, every case is unique, and there can be different processing times for different cases.

Based on USCIS historical processing times, from the last six years (FY 2018 to FY 2023), it can take anywhere from 1.8 months to 5 months for the H1B petition filed in Regular processing using form I-129. See the below screenshot from the USCIS website based on historical processing times for the last six years.

For FY 2023 (until the end of June 2023), as you can see in the below screenshot is about 3.1 months. It means that roughly after you get the receipt notice, you should have the decision on your petition within four months.

If the applicant gets an RFE ( Request for Evidence), then, in that case, it can take beyond 6 months as well. If there are no complexities with the case, you may get a decision much faster in 2 months or less. To check current processing times by service center, you can check the article  Check USCIS H1B Visa Processing times

Current USCIS H1B Processing Time for 2023 ( Regular & Premium)
Current USCIS H1B Processing Time for 2023 ( Regular & Premium)

H1B Premium Processing Time

If an employer or sponsor pays an extra premium processing fee to USCIS to have the H1B petition adjudicated (decision) within 15 calendar days, then that petition is said to be filed in H1B premium processing.

H1B Premium Processing Documents, Fee

To file an H1B petition in premium processing, the employer or sponsor need to file Form I-907 along with a premium processing fee of $2,500 when they file an H1B petition using Form I-129. The premium processing fee is in addition to the general H1B filing fee. An employer can file for premium processing at the time of filing or upgrade to premium processing after filing and getting the receipt notice.

How long does USCIS take for H1B Premium processing?

USCIS takes 15 calendar days or less to adjudicate an H1B petition filed in premium processing. They have 15 days SLA (service level agreement) and guarantee that any H1B petition filed in premium processing will be adjudicated in 15 calendar days or less.

For FY 2024 season ( until June 2023), the current premium processing time average is about 0.2 months, which is about a week or less. If you were to file in premium, you should get a decision in about ten days as per current processing times.

If they do not meet the 15 days timeline, they will refund the premium processing fee and continue to process the H1B in expedited processing. This happens, when there is an extensive load and USCIS cannot meet its SLA. It does not happen often but happens once in a while during the start of the H1B season.

H1B Extension Processing Time

The processing time for an H1B Extension petition depends on how it was filed. If it was filed under regular processing or premium processing. If it was filed under Premium processing time, then you can expect to have a decision within 15 calendar days. The fee and SLA are similar to the general new H1B petition. Unlike, if it was filed in Regular Processing, the processing time can vary based on where it was filed and the processing times at the service center.

In general, the H1B extension processing can be slightly faster than regular processing, if there are not many changes in the employment terms and role of the H1B employee. This is because USCIS can give some weightage or deference to the previous first H1B approval and use that for the extension.

H1B Transfer Processing Time

Similar to H1B extension filings, for H1B Transfer as well, the processing time varies based on what type of processing you choose. If you file in Premium Processing, you will get a decision within 15 calendar days, but if you file in regular processing, it can vary based on where it was filed and the case. It can vary anywhere from 3 to 6 months or more.

Typically, the H1B transfer petition is filed with a new employer and there is no previous approval history. So, it would be looked like a new petition, and it can take more time than the H1B extension petition processing time.

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?

Also, in most recent years, premium processing has been suspended for H1B cap-subject petitions to decrease the overall processing times of all petitions. But, unlike the new cap subject petition, for H1B Transfer scenarios, employers usually apply for premium processing 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, but 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 5 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  $2,500 and upgrading 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.

H1B Visa FY 2024 Processing timelines – Regular vs. Premium?

USCIS continues to have premium processing for H1B FY 2024 season. So, if you were to file in premium processing, you would get a decision within 15 days. As per the historical data until June 2023, it is around 7 days or 0.2 months.

Regarding regular processing for FY 2024 cap-subject petitions, the average processing is somewhat conflicting. Below are the two data points.

  • Historical Trend Data: As per the average processing times given by USCIS in their historical processing times as of June 30th, 2023, the processing time is about 3.1 months ( see above screenshot).
  • Current Trend Data: As per the current processing times, it is anywhere from 2 to 4 months for the California Service center and slightly more than four months for few of the other service centers. See below data from the USCIS processing times website, presented by VisaGrader H1B Processing times.

So, based on two data points, for FY 2024 H1B petitions filed with USCIS, you can expect decision on your case anywhere from 2 to 4 months.

California Service Center H1B Processing Time Aug 2023
California Service Center H1B Processing Time Aug 2023

Also, the better thing than the published USCIS processing times is looking at the H1B Tracker data contributed by the community. Check below for more info.

H1B Visa Tracker

You can check out the average H1B Visa processing times using VisaGrader’s H1B Visa Tracker All the data on our tracker page is contributed by users like you. Please add your H1B  case by registering and continue to update your status. It will help others get an idea.

Register at VisaGrader – H1B Visa Tracker

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.

Current H1B Processing times, History

You can check USCIS.gov for Processing times or on a website like VisaGrader.com for the same. The big difference is, VisaGrader has historical data and gives you a holistic view of the processing times across all the Service Centers as in the below screenshot. So, you can check Current H1B Visa Processing Times on VisaGrader.com

H1B Processing times for Nebraska, Texas and Vermont Service Centers as of 2023
H1B Processing times for Nebraska, Texas and Vermont Service Centers as of 2023

Common FAQs

Does USCIS have any turnaround time/ SLA for H1B regular 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. The 15 calendar days SLA only applies to petitions filed under premium processing.

Any higher approval chances in H1B 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 $2,500 will increase chances of approval. Read 5 H1B Visa Myths you need to know

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 pretty much similar. It can take anywhere from 2 to 4 months based on historical processing times by USCIS in last five years. You can read How to check H1B visa processing times at USCIS Service centers

How much was your H1B Visa filing processing time ? Any thoughts to share on the processing time waiting ?


Other Articles


  1. Hi Saurabh,

    I am currently on L1 Visa. One of the consultancy firms has applied for my H1B petition. As you mentioned, the processing may take upto 2 to 6 months. I have a couple of questions:

    1. While my H1 from first employer is still in processing stage, Can another employer file a fresh H1 for me with premium processing?
    2. If my H1 from first employer is rejected, how soon can I have another employer apply for my H1?
    3. If my H1 is approved, I believe I would still be on L1 status unless COS is applied for. When can my employer apply for COS and how long does it take to process the same?
    4. In case of H1 transfer, can I start working for second employer while the H1 transfer is still in processing stage?

    Look forward to your response.

    – Mayuresh

    • 1. Yes
      2. There is no wait period. The other employer can apply soon after.
      3. COS can either be applied along w/ H-1. If not, it can be applied separately once petition has been approved. I am not sure if it can be applied while H-1 is in progress.
      4. Yes, provided your petition for the 1st employer is approved and has started.

      • Hi Saurabh,

        – I have been working in US since 27th June 2008 on L1B visa at client A from my Employer B
        – My visa expired on 22nd May 2011 and my L1B extention is in progress.
        – I got RFE which was replied on 29th July 2011 to USCIS, so USCIS can anytime approve or deny my extention from now till next 60 days
        – Fortunately I have valid I-94 till 10th Janurary 2013

        if my extention gets denied by USCIS, I agree that legally I can stay in USA but will not be able to work here.

        according to your opinion

        1) Today is 5th of Aug 2011, for safer side, can I ask my current employer B to file my “H1B with COS” now, eventhough my L1B extension is in progress by same employer B.
        – Is that the good idea or possible option according to you ?

        2) or I should wait for either approval or rejection of my L1B extension and once rejected then only it is better to talk my company to do “H1B with COS” – Again, good thing is I no need to leave US asap because I have valid I-94 till JANUARY 10, 2013

        Please advise according to your opinion which one is the better option (1 or 2 above0 ? or you can think of any other good option which is not emerging in my mind in this scenario which you can suggest.

        I would appreciate your guidance.

        • Even though your I-94 allows you to stay in US till 2013, you should leave US if your L-1 extension is denied. By not working for L-1 employer you will not be maintaining status and accumulating “out of status”.

          1. It may be a bad idea especially if it’s for the same position. L-1 position has different requirements (knowledge about applications, tools etc specific to your employer), but H-1 is more generic. So if the employer files H-1 for same position, they would in a way tell USCIS that the position doesn’t require employer specific skill-set, and USCIS can deny it.
          2. As your I-94 would still be valid by the time your L-1 extension result is received, you can still be able to file H-1 w/ COS. However, by staying in US, you will be accumulating “out of status” (you will not be working on L-1, and H-1 employment cannot start yet). Leaving US would be the right thing to do.

          • Hi Saurabh,
            Thanks for your detailed response.
            Can you please let me know answers to below two queries further.
            1) Suppose my L1B extenstion gets denied and let us say I go back to India immediately – I guess, within 10 days I need to leave US after I get rejected letter from USCIS – correct me If I am wrong

            2) Once I reach India, then within how many days/months I can reapply for fresh L1B – Can I apply immediately or I can apply only after certain months ? What is the USCIS rule on that ?

            3) Once I reach India, then within how many days/months I can reapply for fresh H1B – Can I apply immediately or I can apply only after certain months ? What is the USCIS rule on that ?

          • 1. There is no grace period provided. USCIS expects one to leave US immediately. However, if one stays back for few days to wrap up things, that is still something an attorney can try to explain to USCIS (if questioned in future).
            2. There is no wait period. The employer can apply immediately. However, it is better to apply after employer has addressed the original concerns raised by USCIS, or else this L-1 extension may get denied as well.
            3. Same as 2.

    • Hi Saurabh,
      I was in the US on a L1B and it is there that I got my H1B based on my I-94. Now that I am in India to get the visa stamped, my petitioner says that, since my H1B was not applied in India it is not region specific. Otherwise, had it been done in India then at the time of H1B filing its to be clearly mentioned to which US consulate this H1B falls into.
      I am from Karnataka, but for this H1B stamping can I still opt Hyderabad? I have not been living in Karnataka from the past 1 year and now planning to go and visit my friend in Hyderabad. Can I give his address and attend my visa interview from Hyderabad?
      Please let me know Saurabh, your help will be truly truly appreciated.


      • They changed the rule sometime ago. Last I checked, a person can now go to any consulate for the interview. You can call VFS and confirm.

  2. Hi Sourabh,

    My RFE documents for H1 was submitted by the employer on May 18th 2011
    and I have still not received a response from USCIS, it has been more than 70 days. Could you please let me know if it is normal. How long would I still have to wait for the response?


    • There is not set SLA for them to respond to the RFE. At times they take 3-4 months. There is not much one can do except to wait. Or you can upgrade it to premium processing if you want it to be adjudicated earlier.

  3. Hi Saurabh,

    I have so many Questions in my mind for H1B visa.

    1)I have masters degree from US and now i am on F1 visa. I am done with my OPT. Now i enrolled in another school. Do i eligible to apply for H1B visa, Because right now i am not on CPT or OPT. I have a job offer letter.
    2)i Have master degree, Is i am eligible to apply in regular cap?

    Can you suggest me to how to approach.

    • 1. Yes you can still find an employer willing to file H-1 for you. One doesn’t need to be on OPT to file H-1.
      2. You would be eligible for Masters quota provided you did Masters from an accredited school.

      • Thanks For your Reply!!!

        The reason why i wrote the here is because my 2nd school(UNVA) is in stake and my life too. My employer is in bit afraid for filing H1B beacause he dont want to be in that loop. He mentioned me that for sake of one applicant i can’t ruin other people. My question is any alternate way to apply for H1b? Is any altenate method
        My case is…i have US master degree..i have job offer letter. my 2nd school is trouble. i called to sevp they said i am in onstatus now. Can i file H1b in non-cap. How can i explain to my employer i can apply in non-cap. If i apply in non-cap do i need to submit my UNVA i-20? Give me some suggestion, so i can approach my employer.

        My first master is from an accredited school.
        How can i ask my employer to file my H1B , because he under mode of fear that i am from UNVA. And he dont want to loose me . I got a job offer letter from a good client. Do i am able to put my question correctly?

        please respond me ASAP, i really thank full to you


        • As UNVA students are still considered in-status, you should be fine. But your employer’s fear are understandable.

          Even if you file under general quota, even then you will have to submit information about your current status as you are in US. And that would involve submitting I-20.

          Make the employer talk to an attorney to address his concerns.

  4. Hello Shurabh,

    Thank you so much for helping all these people in need.
    I am very blank about whole H1b process. Pease answer my questions without getting irritated. I am one F1, graduated in 2010 BS (Biology), had OPT for a year and got 17 month extension on that EAD card now. It expired on June 2012. I am now certified as medical technologist and work for hospital as Medical Technologist. My employer is ready to file for my H1.

    1. When does the application starts , and when is the deadline(if there is any)?
    2. How long does it take to process, what is the cost, does the approval or denial depend on salary, title of the job and company reputation?
    3. If approved, can I start continue working immidietly(since I have EAD), or does approval of h1 makes my OPT invalid and have to wait for H1 starting day to work? If denied, do I lose the OPT (F1) status too?
    4. Do I have to go outside USA if approved to get visa stamped or how does it work? How risky is it? My visa is already expired and I am just legal on basis of valid i-94 or EAD card, I guess.

    Thank you in advance

    • 1. Application process has already started, and would continue until quota gets exhausted (or 30th Sep 2012, whichever is earlier).
      2. Approval process may take anywhere from 15 days (premium processing) to 2-6 months (normal processing). If RFE is issued in b/w, it could further delay the process. You can find the cost on USCIS website and in one of the articles Kumar has written here. It may take 2k to 4k depending upon your employer. Attorney fees and premium processing charges are separate.
      3. If H-1 is filed and approved w/ COS, then you can start working on H-1 from the approval date mentioned in the notice. If denied, you will remain on OPT status. While it’s processing, you should continue to work on OPT to maintain legal status in US.
      4. If filed and approved w/ COS, you don’t need to get H-1 stamped immediately, and can start working based on the I-94 that comes attached w/ approval notice. If COS is denied or not applied, then you will have to get H-1 stamped from outside US, before starting to work on H-1. Probability of success depends upon you, your employer and proposed job offer.

      • Thank you so much for your reply.
        Few more questions:
        1. How do we know (if we can know) about how many quotos are used?
        2. Does it make difference or help in term of strengtening the case if we go through attorny?

        Thank you again,

        • 1. USCIS publishes weekly count on their website. Kumar updates them on this blog.
          2. Depends upon your employer. The petition needs to be filed by the employer. Some prefer to file it themselves, other take help from attorney.

  5. Hi Saurabh,

    I had submitted my documents for H1B petition processing in the month of June, 2011. Mine was a cap-exempt case since I already hold an approved H1B Petition from my previous company and that will be transferred over to my present company.But I was given the information that all H1B processing had been put on-hold during the months of June-July because of which there is still no progress in this regard.

    My queries are –
    1. Is it true that all H1B petition processing was on hold during June-July 2011?
    2. Since mine is a case of transferring my approved petition, will this take more time than a normal case or will it be faster?If possible,please let me know about what actually happens in this transfer process and what time it usually takes.

    Sorry for the long question!Thanks for your help in advance,

    • 1. No, they were not put on hold. There is a backlog of petitions at USCIS service centers, and it’s taking anywhere from 2 to 6 months to process them. I don’t know if this information was taken as “put on hold” and passed on to you.
      2. If you look at processing times on USCIS website, both new and existing petitions are marked as 2 months. In reality, it may take up to 6 months. I don’t think there will be a considerable difference in processing times for the 2 types of petitions. During transfer, they would evaluate everything that they would for a brand new petition. In addition, they would check if you maintained legal status while working for the old employer (that is why they ask for payslips and W2s).

  6. Hi Saurabh,

    I graduated in December 2010 and started my OPT on February 7th, 2011 which will expire in a year. I was unemployed for about 5 months until July 20th, when I finally started working. I’m working on a contract basis for my company (in Florida) at their client location in North Carolina. My company has agreed to sponsor my H1-b.

    1. Will I have difficulty in applying for an H1-b since I passed the 90 unemployment rule under my OPT?
    2. When will be a good time to apply for my H1-b?
    3. How many weeks of pay stubs would I need to apply for the H1?

    Thanks a lot for all your help.

    • You may be asked to submit recent payslips to show that you were maintaining legal status. They typically would ask for last 2-3 months’ payslips. So it would be nice to have those payslips before filing H-1.

      Although 2-3 months’ payslips is the general norm, if USCIS has doubts they can still go ahead and ask for all payslips since you graduated. Have you informed your DSO about your employment?

        • AFAIK, one should inform their DSO when they receive employment on OPT, so that the DSO can update the SEVP record. I think this is what USCIS use to track unemployment on OPT, but I am not sure. You should check w/ an immigration lawyer on this.

  7. Hi Saurabh,

    Firstly, Thanks for taking out your time and helping us in regarding this process. My question is that I recently graduated from an non accredited university (UNVA). As you know that SEVP raided this university and gave students two options that
    -Either the students should maintain there active status and will not be issued OPT further (What does it mean by Active Status?? Does Students under OPT come under this what so ever called Active Status??)

    -Transfer to the other university. (None of the students SEVIS got terminated)

    Since i got graduated already i am ruled out for option 2 and i personally being worried to be on my OPT as the university might shut down in near future with out any notice and in the last month only I got my OPT approval notice and OPT card too. Now, @ my work they have agreed to file for my H1 and i am thinking that, If i apply my H1 visa on masters quota, will I face any problem?? or the 2nd option option is filing H1 in general Quota(using My Bachelor degree) how is it going to effect down the line when i go India for Stamping ?? Please advise me the best way that i can proceed in regarding this process.
    Thanks in advance.. Any help in regarding this process is really appreciated.


    • From the text you have mentioned, they seem to be saying that OPT won’t be issued further. So people who already have OPT should be fine. But any OPT extensions are not guaranteed. Active status implies, you need to maintain legal status in US. Being on OPT is a valid legal status

      As the college is not accredited, you may not be eligible for Master’s quota. You can still file it under General quota. I don’t foresee any serious issue as they are not taking action in retrogression. You have maintained legal status until the time you filed your H-1, and so you should be fine.

      However, you should still consult a good attorney to be sure that you are legally ok.

      • Thanks Saurabh, I contacted an attorney and he said to file my H1 under regular Quota. But i have a quick question, After receiving my OPT card i havent updated my Status with my school? and As i told you earlier i am from UNVA and i dnt know if it is good to update my sevis information with school at this moment? Do i need to provide my information in school or Can apply for my H1 with out informing them? Please let me know.


        • Right now you are on OPT and your responsibility is to maintain that legal status. So I would let DSO know about the OPT. Also, F-1 allows only 60 days of unemployment. So you need to start working on OPT and let your school know, even though your H-1 might be under process.

          • Thanks Saurabh.. Thanks for taking out your time and guiding me in this process. I really appreciate your work. cheers.


  8. Hey,,
    Ok now my doubt is this. My fellow associate, applied for h1 few days later than me, got case number which is like few hundreds more than mine. So now logically mine has to be processed first right? Or again there is no set rule for this? Coz he got his petition approved and got his PA date too. My case is still in initial review, filed on may 18th.

    • It is not always the case. Usually what happens is they distribute the received petitions amongst all adjudicating officers. If a petition was filed after yours but was assigned to an officer who has lesser backlog or goes through his backlog quickly, then it will get adjudicated before yours.

  9. Hi Saurabh,
    Firstly, I really appreciate your concern. My question is that I recently graduated from an non accredited university (UNVA). Now SEVP raided this university and gave the students two options that
    -Either the students should maintain there active status and will not be issued OPT further or
    -Transfer to the other university. (None of the students SEVIS got terminated)

    Last week I even got my OPT approval notice and OPT card too. I am not sure whether my OPT gets affected or not..!! Now, if I file my H1b visa on masters quota, will I face any problem?? or How should I proceed further??
    Thanks in advance..I appreciate your help.


    • Looking at the two options, I don’t think they have revoked the OPTs that have already been issued. However, you should consult an experienced lawyer just to be sure. I know they have been more lenient w/ UNVA than they were w/ TVU, but one shouldn’t assume things for granted.

      As for H-1, when your degree is from non-accredited college, you will not qualify for Master’s quota. Although you may still file under general quota. Again, check w/ a lawyer to be sure.

      • Thank you Saurabh. I will definitely contact a good attorney and I hope OPT students do not face any problem.


  10. Hi,
    My OPT is about to expire 8/13/2011, and I recently got an offer from an employer and they are willing to sponsor my H1. my question is if they apply for it now premium and gets approved, am I able to start my work as soon as it is approved or do I still need to wait for the October date?


    • If the H-1 is filed w/ COS (requested start date of 1st Oct 2011) and is filed before your OPT period expires, then you will be eligible for cap-gap. During cap-gap one can continue to work. This way you can continue to work until 1st Oct, when your H-1 would kick in. However, you cannot travel outside US while in cap-gap period.

      Work authorization is revoked, if the filed H-1 is denied, revoked or canceled.

  11. Hi Saurabh,

    Thank you for extending this help.

    I graduated in May,2011. Once i received my valid EAD card and premium processed H1B visa from my employer, i travelled to India (in June,2011). I plan to return to US to start my full time job in August,2011. My arrival date in US is within my EAD’s valid period. Following are my questions.

    1- If i carry the following documents( passport with valid F1 visa, i20 with travel signatures, ead card, offer letter from US firm), is my entry to US guaranteed?

    2- Although i have an approved H1B,I dont think i need to get my H1B stamped since i am returning on my valid EAD card. Is that correct?

    3- On most recent i20, it is stated on page 3 that i have been approved for H1b visa.
    Do you think this new information on my i20 is going to cause me problems at POE since having H1B is contrary to non-immigrant intent? How do i answer the immigration officer if quizzed about my non-immigrant intent?

    Thank you in advance!
    Really appreciate your help in this matter

    • 1. Those documents should be sufficient.
      2. That is correct.
      3. I don’t think it will cause any problem as lots of students have their H-1s filed after completing their studies in F-1. Besides, another government agency (USCIS) has approved your H-1 knowing the fact that you were on F-1 previously. So you should be fine.

      Let me know if you have additional questions.

  12. Dear Saurabh,

    Thanks a ton for your great service.

    I am on F-1 now since almost a year. Currently i am working on CPT, my employer has been willing to file H1b. They said the application has been filed on 07/13/2011 (regular application).

    Here is couple of questions:
    1. My CPT would be expire in Dec 2011. (For safer side) I have to apply for my OPT sometime in Aug 2011 or early Sep 2011, as OPT EAD processing time takes around 90 days. What do you suggest?
    2. I have plans to travel to India in Dec 2011. In order to travel, i need to either H1b or OPT processed. Please do suggest me.
    3. How should i keep track of H1b application?

    Looking forward for your response. Thanks.

    • 1. Yes, it’s better to file OPT in Sep to be on the safer side.
      2. To return back to US, you either need to enter on H-1 or F-1. If your H-1 gets approved by that time, then you can go for H-1 stamping and return to work on H-1. If your H-1 doesn’t get approve and OPT gets approved, then you can return on F-1 visa and work on OPT. Note that if your H-1 is still in progress while you leave US, then your COS would be abandoned. You will have to file COS again after returning to US on F-1. To avoid this, you can upgrade your H-1 petition to premium processing if it doesn’t get approve by Oct-Nov.
      3. USCIS will issue a receipt number against your petition. You can use that to track it online on USCIS website.

  13. Hi, Saurabh

    I’m confused about status check system on USCIS.gov… On July, 21 status was ‘Initial review’ and on the next day it became ‘post approval activity’ with comment ‘On July 15, 2011, we mailed you a notice that we have approved this I129 PETITION …’
    Further more i haven’t got yet this notice…

    Please, could you comment my situation?

    • Your employer or his attorney would receive the approval notice within 1-2 weeks (it’s sent through USPS). From the online status, it looks like your petition has been approved. When no RFE is issued, the petition status at times moves directly from Initial Review to Post Approval Activity.

      • Saurabh, thank you a lot!

        I’ve got one more question.. Is it possible that my status changed and notice was sent on July, 15, but online comment about it appeared only after a week? Could the Status System work wrong about my case?

        Best regards.

        • It is possible. There have been instances where the online status wasn’t updated even when the petition gets approved. Ask your attorney to call USCIS and follow-up. They wouldn’t provide any updates to you.

  14. Hi Saurabh,

    My employer filed my petition on july 25 2011.Now i have 3 questions?

    1. How long will it take for receipt notice?
    2. RFE happens before receiving the receipt notice or after receiving the receipt notice?
    3. How long i need to wait for interview and getting the visa stamped?

    • 1. It takes 1-2 weeks for the employer or his attorney to receive the receipt notice.
      2. If RFE is issued, it will be happen after the receipt number has been generated.
      3. You can go for visa stamping anytime after your petition is approved, and you have received all the relevant documents from the employer. However, you cannot go for stamping more than 90 days in advance to actual H-1 start date mentioned in the approval notice.

  15. Hi,
    I was scheduling my visa interview appointment using online system for USA embassy visa appointment.
    I need to provide two information. I don’t know what does “Petition Request Number” means.
    How to get it?
    In my H1b approval(I-979), I can see there is Pettion Receipt Number. But nothing is mentioned like “Petition Request Number”. Please advice.
    a) Petition Request number – (What is this field? Could you please let me know the answer urgently?)
    b) Petition Receipt number I have. That one starts with EACxxxxxxxx


    • Usually it’s the number that you are referring to – the one starting w/ EAC. You can call up the US embassy in Ghana if you need further clarification.

  16. Dear Saurabh,

    I am currently outside US, and my company and the law firm they hired have been very slow to file my H-1B petition. My case was initiated in April, but they haven’t filed my petition after three months now. I was informed that the export compliance group is pending review for the new question on part 6.

    I understand that they have to review for the new question on the form, but is it something that usually require two month review time? (I am an architecct)

    More importantly, now I am worried that I wouldn’t be able to get my visa stamp in time. My start date on the offer letter is October 17. I was hoping that I could enter US at least a month prior that.

    When is the earliest date that I can enter US?
    Do you think it is possible to receive visa stamp if they file my petition with regular track? I think it is time for a premium processing, but my company says they will go with the regular, even if they are still reviewing that thing.

    I was considering going there with tourist visa, but as I read q&a below, I can see that it is not advisable.

    • I don’t know how much time export compliance would take. The earliest date on which you can enter US is 10 days prior to your actual start date. In your case, you can enter anytime after Oct 7, but you still cannot work until Oct 17.

      Yes, it is not advisable to enter on tourist visa and then move to H-1. It carries a high risk of rejection, and a big software firm is under scrutiny for similar reasons.

      Even if the petition and/or visa is approved after Oct 17, you would still receive 6 years on H-1 (only the time spent within US on H-1 is counted towards this clock). I don’t know if this is the only concern you have around process getting delayed, or if there is any other concern as well.

      Let me know if that helps.

      • Thank you.

        I just want to make sure that I can start in October, as I have already waited for six months so far, after I was hired in January.

        Just one additional question, is it possible to file a petition with visa start date of October 1, instead of October 17, so that I can enter on September 21th? Or is visa start date automatically same with my start date?

        • Yes, the employer can file w/ the start date of Oct 1. In that case, you can enter on or after Sep 20th. Start date is requested in the application that the employer submits and it’s up to the employer what they want to put in. It can be as close as tomorrow (not reasonable though) and as far out as 6 months from filing date.

  17. Is it advisable to travel through visitor visa while H1 filing is in process? If yes then, Is change of the status from visitor-B2 to H1 applicable within US once we get the H1 approval?

    • Let me know if I understood the question correctly – the employee is not in US, and his/her H-1 is being filed. Meanwhile, the employee travels to US on B-1. Is that correct?

      Assuming I understood correctly, yes H-1 process can go on while the person travels to US on business visa. A person needs to show strong ties w/ India and has to show non-immigrant intent when applying for B-1. So a pending H-1 may hamper the chances of B-1 stamping. If B-1 is already stamped, then it’s a different story.

      The other part of your question was regarding COS. There is a 30-60-90 day guideline one needs to follow when entering US on B-1/F-1 and then moving to H-1. There is a high risk of rejection if COS is applied within 30 days of entering US on B-1 (USCIS can question your intent of using B-1 as an excuse to enter US and avoid H-1 stamping). Risk is lower when applying b/w 30 and 60 days, and minimal beyond 90 days. Keep that in mind when applying for COS. Also, depending upon period of stay given when entering on B-1 (on I-94), the person may not be in US for even 90 days.

      Does that answer your questions?

      • Hi Saurabh,

        Could you please explain this line. “There is a 30-60-90 day guideline one needs to follow when entering US on B-1/F-1 and then moving to H-1. ”

        What is the guideline for entering US on F-1 ?

        • If you enter US on F-1, and then file COS to H-1 then that could raise serious doubts about your intent. F-1 (and B-1) and non-immigrant visas, while H-1 and L-1 are dual intent visas (i.e. one can immigrate on those visas by filing GC).

          So when you go for F-1 interview, you tell the officer that you plan to study and that is why you want to enter US. Once you land in US, and then file COS to H-1, it raises doubts about your original intent of entering on F-1.

          That is why it’s advisable for one to wait for at least 60-90 days before filing H-1.

          • I gave my F-1 visa interview 3 years back. I came for PhD but now I want to get some industrial work experience.

            I got my Masters in december 2010. I didn’t apply for the OPT as at that time I wanted to continue my PhD and the 2 months grace period has expired. Later I changed my plan and took a job offer in a product based top 5 company in my field.

            I am still on valid F-1 and recently travelled to India. Will the 90 days grace period be application in my case also as I gave my F-1 visa interview long time back ??

          • Let me know if I understood the question correctly. You recently entered on F-1, and now planning to take up a job on H-1. However, you graduated in Dec 2010, and your 60 day grace period has already expired. Are you currently working on OPT?

            If my above understanding is correct (including that you are working on OPT), then you should be fine. 90 day wait is more applicable when a person enters US for the first time on F-1, and immediately files COS to H-1. As you have completed your graduation, that’s like the typical case of F-1->OPT->H-1.

          • Hi Saurabh,

            I got my Masters in december 2010 but I am still registered as a PhD student and currently on a valid F-1. This is the 5th time I have entered US on F-1 that I got stamped 3 years back.

            My company has to apply for H1-B because I couldn’t get an OPT due to the expiration of grace period.

          • Hi Saurabh,

            Thanks for your wishes. Today I got a mail from my company that my H1-B has been approved and they will provide the original H1-B documents on my start date. But I didn’t get any mail from USCIS. Is the correspondence for H1-B is directly between company and USCIS and not between the applicant and USCIS ?

            I want to be sure that my H1-B is approved. Will it be fine if I ask my company about some confirmation mail or H1-B petition no. ?

          • The documents are sent to the employer or his attorney, and they can forward the docs to you. USCIS doesn’t send anything to you.

            If you have the petition number, you can check the status online as well.

          • Hi Saurabh,

            Thanks. I got the I-797 document and the petition no. and H1-B has been approved.

            As H1-B will kick on 1st october, can I stay in US without valid F1 ? Depending on your answer I will register for fall semester.
            Thanks for your help.

          • You need to maintain your legal status until H-1 kicks-in. As you are on F-1, you need to maintain that status. Had you been on OPT, you would have become eligible for cap-gap and no action would have been required at your end. But being on F-1 is different.

          • Thanks saurabh. I’ll register for the fall semester to maintain my legal status.

            Out of curiosity, if one goes out of status for 1 month and then starts working on H1-B, at which step one will face the repercussion ? Does H1-B will also become invalid or one will face the problem during H1-B stamping ?

          • Hi Saurabh,

            I checked with my attorney who filed my H1-B and he is saying that I am also covered by the “cap gap”. As I was in valid F-1 when my H1-B was filed and now the beneficiary of an approved H1-B petition. He is saying that “F-1 status of students is automatically extended when the student is the beneficiary of an H-1B petition for the next fiscal year with an October 1 employment start date. ”

            Could you please double check whether I am covered under cap gap or not. I don’t want to waste my advisor’s money by unnecessarily registering for the fall semester.

          • My understanding is that your original I-20 (w/ which you did your Masters) is closed now since you have graduated and din’t apply for OPT. Your new I-20 is against the PhD program.

            As part of your cap-gap, your previous I-20 provides the automatic extension, but it is closed now. Your current status in US is F-1 based on the new I-20 and your responsibility is to maintain that status. So IMO you should continue to maintain your F-1 status. I have nothing more to add here. You can take another opinion, or follow what your attorney is saying. Remember, I am not a legal expert but he is.

          • Hi Saurabh,

            Thanks. I am not sure what you mean by new I-20. I still have the same I-20 based on which my F-1 was was issued. I didn’t get any new I-20. I will also check with ISO for second opinion.

            Could please also answer my another question. If one goes out of status for 1 month and then starts working on H1-B, at which step one will face the repercussion ? Does H1-B will also become invalid or one will face the problem during H1-B stamping ?

          • H-1 wouldn’t become invalid. You may be questioned about your stay during H-1 stamping. The other time when you can be questioned is during GC processing, when they might do a deep dive in all the statuses you have held so far.

          • Hey Saurabh, This is Ak

            My Dad & Mom both came here (travel visa) on 21st may 2011 & mom left on 24th july 2011 & now my dad is filing for h1 & my younger brother has no travel visa, so do u think that once my dad’s H1 gets approved how do we get H4 for my younger brother & do we have to apply h4 for my mom or she can come back on travel visa & than we can apply for h4….. plz reply

          • You mean to say, your dad is still here on B-1 and a company is filing H-1 for him? It would be approved if USCIS feels that the proposed job matches his qualification and expertise, and that his intent wasn’t to file to H-1 when he initially entered US on B-1.

            Once your dad’s H-1 gets approved, your mom can go for H-4 visa stamping and later enter US on that visa stamp. As for your brother, if he is a minor then his H-4 can be filed same way as your mom, otherwise his H-4 cannot be filed. Entering US on travel visa and then filing H-4 is misuse of tourist visa and USCIS can deny the COS.

          • Hey Saurabh Bhai, This is Ak,

            I wanted to know once my dad’s h1 is approved wats the process of time & documentation needed & will it be a risk factor for my mom & younger brother (age 17) to apply for h4 & one more thing my dad is applying thru premium process…… so if he apply now when do u think my mom & younger brother will be here in us….

          • H-1 approval may take 15 days if filed as premium processing. In case RFE is issued, it could further delay the process.

            Once approved, his wife and son can go for H-4 stamping by taking appropriate date at the consulate in India. They would have to carry his employment information and copy of his 797. They can then join him in US. However, they cannot join him until his actual H-1 start date. In other words, if your dad’s H-1 is filed and approved w/ COS, they can join him from the mentioned start date. If his H-1 is not approved w/ COS, then your dad will still be on B-1, and your family cannot join him unless he enters US on stamped H-1 visa or re-files COS to H-1.

            So the earliest they can be here (assuming H-1 is filed and approved w/ COS w/ start date as 1st Oct and their H-4 stamping is approved) is 1st Oct 2011.

      • Yes, Thanks. You answered my question. Since he already had his multiple entry B1/B2 on his passport. I wanted to know if he could come to US as a vistor not for business purpose while his H1 is in process and do a COS from visitor to H1 after 90 days. Because i assume visitor visa is given for 6 months.

      • Hi Saurabh,

        If the employer has given the start date as Nov 15th while filing H1-B then does it mean that I cannot travel before Nov 15th to US though my petition gets approved?

        • That is correct. H-1 petition would be approved w/ a start date. You cannot travel to US more than 10 days prior to start date. Even then you cannot start to work until actual date mentioned in 797. So if H-1 gets approved w/ start date of 15 Nov, then you cannot enter until 5th Nov. You can go for visa stamping at most 3 months prior to actual start date.

  18. Saurabh,
    My husband is processing his H1 through his company and his client is at New Jersey but his client has given him the option of working from the company sales office in the state Michigan where I work in US. To file his LCA do we have to use the New jersey address or the Michigan address?
    I understand from many source that his physical work location address to be used for LCA which means the Michigan address but will this cause any issue in his H1 filing? Please help!!

    • The employer has to give Michigan address as LCA is dependent on work location. He should also submit a letter from the client stating they are ok w/ him working from Michigan even though they themselves are located somewhere else. Note that this can also complicate the situation. USCIS can question back if the employee can work remotely, then why from US and not from outside US. Your lawyer will have to frame a good response to address this question appropriately (for example, working in same timezone).

      • Thanks Saurabh. I understand the complications so can he process his LCA for New Jersey and come to NJ client location for 1 week then relocate to Michigan. Let me know if the emlpoyer or himself can file LCA once he relocates to Michigan? Do we need to provide justification for relocation if we file the LCA? Advice whichever location is the best to file LCA to avoid complications?

        • Yes, he can first join the client at the client site. The employer can then file a new LCA mentioning Michigan as the work location and he can move to Michigan once that LCA is approved. I don’t think any justification is required when filing the new LCA.

          It’s better to follow this, as he first PoE would be client site (which is another good thing) and not too many unwanted questions will be asked during visa interview.

          • Thank you so much! Now I have another query. Since my L1-B is expiring in sep 2011 though I-94 is valid till may 2014, my company wants to do H1 for me based on my husband’s H1 approval..Because we both work for same company but for different clients. Should we do for premium processing or normal processing to get quick approval. Please advice..

          • If you want quicker approval, then premium processing is the way to go. However, even if approved quickly, it wouldn’t kick-in until 1st Oct 2011. I don’t know exact date of your L-1 petition expiration, but if it is prior to 20th Sep then you may have an issue.

          • As your H-1 won’t start until 1st Oct, you need to be on another valid status until then. As your L-1 would expire on 16 Sep, you will not have a valid visa status from 16 Sep to 20 Sep (the earliest date one can be in US on a new H-1 is 10 days prior to actual H-1 start date). As it’s just 4 days it may be fine, but to be sure it’s better to check w/ an attorney.

            Does that make sense?

          • My L1-B is expiring on Sep 16th 2011 and my I-94 is valid till May 2014. Am i eligible for L1 extension since I would like to visit India in the month of December. I heard that L1 extension cannot be applied because the I-94 is valid till 2014. Is there any such policy with USCIS or its the Employers policy?

          • To continue to work in US on L-1, you need to have an approved I-129S. If your I-129S is valid until 2014, then you are fine. Otherwise you need to file L-1 extension.

            The physical visa stamp can very well expire while you are in US. You need that only when re-entering US. So if you travel outside US and your stamp has expired, then you will have to go for L-1 stamping and then return on that visa stamp.

          • Could you please let me know how long will the LCA for new location would take? Also is there any constraint that he has to be in the client location in New Jersey for certain period before filing new LCA for michigan?

          • LCA processing may take 1-2 weeks. It’s not necessary to have work in prior LCA location for certain time before filing LCA for the new location.

          • My Spouse’s H1-B stamping got approved Oct – 21st – 2011 under premium mode. His original LCA was posted for the Client location in New Jersey from the Employer.
            Since the client agreed for him to work from the location where I am working I mean directly at the employer site location. The employer is posting a new LCA in this location(Michigan) for my spouse. Could you please let me know how long it will take to get his new LCA process completed. Also please let me know the steps involved in posting new LCA and by when can he travel to US?

          • LCA might take 1-2 weeks. The employer can do it the same way they did the original LCA. Once approved, they can file for I-129 amendement.

  19. Hi Saurabh,

    I have a question on h1 visa stamping. After approval notice comes from USCIS, how long does it take for stamping to occur?

    If visa start date is Oct 1 2011, then what time the employers can start with stamping formalities? Is there any particular timeframe for this?


    • After approval notice received by employer, he would send to you,I-797,I129,LCA,Client letter,PO/Project Description (along with offer letter in case of inhouse project). Once you got all the documents, you can book the interview and go for visa stamping. For Oct 1 2011, you can go anytime on or after July 1 2011, (earliest shdn’t be more than 90 days before the start date).

  20. Dear Saurabh,

    You are providing an excellent service for all H1 aspirants like me.

    I hold an Indian passport and am currently residing and working in UAE for the last 8 years. My H1 has been filed about 2 months back. I would like to know, after my H1 petition is approved, for Visa stamping I have to go to US Embassy in the resident country, or is it a must for all Indian passport holders to get it stamped only in US Embassy in India?

    Please clarify.


    BNet Ra

    • At times, if you are not a citizen of that country, the consulate will not entertain your visa stamping, especially if you haven’t completed your Bachelors or Masters there. The best way to be sure is to call the US Embassy in UAE and ask them about their policy on TCN (third country national). If they say they are ok, then you can attend the visa interview in UAE itself. Different consulates have different rules, so it’s tough to give a Yes/No answer here.

  21. Hi,
    I have two specific query about the DS-160 form?
    I am applying for my H1b visa interview as a TCN (Third Country National) from another country rather than my country of origin as i am presntly working there.
    Q-1: Now, while filling the DS-160, which address should i put in the “HOME ADDRESS FILED”

    Q-2: Which address should i put when in the place of living address in USA?
    Will it be my office address? Or can i put my friend’s address?


    • 1. I am not sure. Typically I would assume to put in the most recent residential address (which will be in the country you are in currently). But you should call consulate and confirm.
      2. Employer address. People usually put that when they haven’t traveled to US yet.

    • Q-1: You can put your home address as the one where you stayed for the past 6 months.

      Q-2: You can put your friends home address if you have one in your city/county (mentioned in your LCA). If you don’t have one, then you can mention your employer address. Later when you travel, by filling i-94 with the correct residential (home) address, that becomes your latest place of living address.

  22. Hi Saurabh,

    I got my petition approved under PP. After getting the hardcopy, there is a mistake in my name, in the education evaluation document alone. One letter have been missed in my first name. Other documents (LCA,I129,Offer letter, approval notice) are correctly printed my name. I’m confused here, i have asked my employer on this, but hes not sure, he wanted to discuss with attorney.

    I require your help here, how this can be solved ? Will my employer has to file again as new or is there any amendment that can be filed to correct this. But the mistake seems to affect full process again as it is found in education evaluation document.

    Kindly require your response on this.


    • It is not necessary to get this rectified. The evaluation is done by an evaluation agency. You can talk to them and ask them to re-issue a new copy w/ correct name, but from H-1 point of view, you are all set. The process doesn’t need to be repeated. If you do decide to take action, the only thing you need is a correct copy from education evaluation agency (and they should do it free of charge as it’s their mistake that they misspelled your name).

      • Saurabh, thanks a ton for immediate reply. I spoke to my employer, he told me, the attorney has given to 3rd party for the education evaluation and at this point, its hard to correct it from them. He also mentioned, it should match with CIS petition set documents, if there is any correction taken then it wont be matched with CIS set. So he told to go with that for visa stamping.

        Whats your opinion on this ?

        • The discrepancy is not a big deal. If you can get it corrected, you should; otherwise it is ok to carry that document. If asked you can explain the discrepancy along w/ reason for not rectifying it.

          If you (or your employer) have paid someone (the 3rd party) for education evaluation, it’s their obligation to provide the right document to you. So even if you can’t get it corrected in near term, you should still have it corrected to get the value out of the money paid. Rest is your discretion.

          • Thanks Saurabh. I’ll go with the documents without correction for visa stamping. If asked, i’ll explain them the reason. The attorney is company attorney, employer has checked with them, but again due to same reason they are not going to correct it now.

            But, I have one more question, its too early to ask, anyway, the consulate has same set of docs,what about at the POE? Will they, have the same set at their end? Some ppl say, it would create problem even at POE. But, as of now,i have the same reason to tell them in near future.

            Will there be a problem at POE also in near future ?

          • No, it shouldn’t be a problem at PoE.

            Education evaluation certificate is required to show that your education was at par w/ 4 years of US Bachelors. Once USCIS has reviewed it and confirmed that your education is indeed equivalent to US Bachelors, I don’t see any point for the consulate or PoE to question that judgment. They have more important things to look into (like client information, employer background etc).

  23. Hi,
    Enlighten me about LCA form please. Is this form submitted for every petition or this is not a mandatory one. Coz for few of my fellow associates this form is submitted it seems and they are waiting to get their case number yet. but i got my case number much before without going through this step or i was not informed , i am confused though. So what is LCA all about?

      • Thanks Saurabh,
        1.So without going through the LCA step, it is not possible to file I-129 right? Or there are any by-pass methods to filing I-129. Becoz i was told by my visa cell people that my petition is filed without going through LCA and they said it is not mandatory too (I also got the case no.) .
        2.So is there a chance my petition might fall into RFE becoz of this?

        • 1. AFAIK I-129 cannot be filed w/o LCA. During LCA, your company demonstrates that the wages being paid are above the established market rates and also advertise the LCA notice on company’s public notice boards to inform other employees that they are about to hire a H-1 candidate. I don’t know why your company would skip that in your case. If you look at I-129 form, part 5.2, it asks for LCA or ETA case number.
          2. I can’t say. Are you working for a small desi consulting company?

          • 1. Thanks for the info man.
            2. No no, one of the IT majors only. But i am not sure if my visa cell people gave me wrong info !!!

  24. Hi,

    I have a big though maybe basic question for many of you experienced lot.

    USCIS website says this -“When to File an FY 2012 H-1B Cap-Subject Petition
    We will begin accepting H-1B petitions that are subject to the FY 2012 cap on April 1, 2011. You may file an H-1B petition no more than 6-months in advance of the requested start date.”
    If you read the last statement it says – you can file for an H1B no more than 6 months in advance of the start date – really ?? So why do people even talk about getting it approved in 2 months ?? Or am I just getting confused ?
    My case -> My opt ends in March mid 2011, but I want to travel to India in Dec, so I am planning to ask my company to apply for H1B now (Aug first week) so that it gets approved soon within 3-4 months and i can travel to india (because i know we cannot travel when it is still in process). But whats the deal with we cannot apply more than 6 months in advance ???

    • The earlier the petition gets approved, the more time people have to make plans or make alternate plans, if required. When filing from outside US, one also needs to get H-1 visa stamped. So if it gets approved within 2 months, it would give them ample time to go for stamping and then enter US around the requested start date. When filing w/ COS, if it gets approved within 2 months, you can move from old status to new status (this is really important when your previous status is expiring).

      If your employer files H-1 in Aug, H-1 employment start date cannot be beyond Jan 2012 (i.e. 6 months beyond filing date). Does that answer your question?

  25. hi,
    i have applied for h1b visa for us in last week of june after getting all the required documents from India, my current visa is getting expired on 31 july 2011,( i am in us wright now ) , my question is that how much time it will take for the same , and main question is that if i will be able to stay in us within this time period or i have to go back to India? please reply asap.

    • What visa are you currently on? If you are on F-1 visa then you have 60 day grace period and can also avail cap-gap provision. If you are on B or L visas, then you cannot stay while petition is pending.

      It may take anywhere b/w 2 to 6 months (if filed w/o premium processing) or 15 days (if filed w/ premium processing). Any RFE that is issued can further delay the process.

  26. Hi,

    I am already in US on B1 visa for shorterm trip(45days). My company is ready to process H1B for me. Can you please let me know if I can start the process right away or shall I wait till I go back to India.
    If I start the filing process will there be any impact on my H1B approval ?


    • It is better to file after returning to India. There is a 30-60-90 guideline that one needs to follow. If H-1 is filed within 30 days of entering US on B-1, then it has maximum risk of getting rejected as USCIS will question your intent of entering US on B-1 and then quickly move to H-1. If H-1 is filed b/w 30 and 60 days, it carries a lower risk, and if filed thereafter it carries lowest risk.

      So to avoid all this, it’s better to file after returning to India.

      FYI , if you give interviews etc on B-1, that would also be abuse of the system as B-1 is not meant for that.

      • Completely agree with Saurabh, in my company (INDIAN MNC’s) many people H1B got rejected because of B1 Visa travel.

        apply after 90 days..

        • Not always. It holds differently for US established MNC. My friend, she attended interview during her B1 stay and after return, the interviewed company filed for H1B and she got the H1B visa too. Again, it depends on your employer solely, if it is an well established US based MNC, no problem.

          • I think me and Raj are talking about instances when an applicant files for H-1 while being in US on B-1. One needs to wait at least 90 days in order to improve the approval chances.

            Your friend’s H-1 was applied after she returned from US, which is different and doesn’t require one to wait, as there is no question of intent.

  27. Hi Saurabh,

    If my company applies for H1-B on 1st august under regular case for FY 2012, will the approval can still take up to 6 months time in worst case ? Or it will definitely be approved before 1st october ?

      • Thanks Saurabh.

        That means to make sure that I can start working from 3rd october, they have to apply in premium processing.

        My other question is will there be any issues in H1b approval if a student is on F1 visa while the H1b is applied. I guess F1 will automatically get cancelled after the approval of H1b.

        • If H-1 is applied and approved w/ COS, then your status will become H-1 from start date. Your F-1 visa stamp will not be canceled until you go for next visa stamping. If COS is denied or not applied, then your status will continue to remain F-1.

          Assuming you have been on F-1 for a while, there shouldn’t be serious questions. If asked you can tell them that you plan to continue your studies on H-1 (don’t know if that is your plan or not).

  28. Hey Saurabh 🙂
    Hope you doing good. My petition was filed on May 4th, its past 2 months now and still waiting for a decision. Any idea about the present trend in the processing time ??? In websites its mentioned as 2 months though.

    • Although USCIS website mentions processing time as 2 month, in reality it may take much longer. At times petition may take up to 6 month to process. There is not set SLA except for petition w/ premium processing.

  29. Hi
    My 17th month OPT extension will expire on July 10th 2011. I just applied for my LCA today on july 6th 2011. Is it possible to get my LCA in 3 days to consider myself as a gap-cap extension so that I can send all my documents by July 10th 2011.

    • Sonu, I was in the same boat just a week ago. My OPT was expiring June 30th and I applied for my LCA on June 24. It took 5 business days and I received it on June 30th afternoon, which was of course too late for me to mail the H1 petition and get the cap gap. They say LCA takes about 2-7 business days. Just hope it comes back by 9th so you can mail it the same day.

      • Is it possible to work up to 3 months without cap gap extension?I am not sure my employer will allow me to work. What should i say to my employer if I don’t get Cap gap extension?

        • you can do volunteer work as long as your employer agrees. You cannot be paid. USCIS may not have any issues with your volunteer work but DOL may have issues with it and that can be of concern to your employer.

  30. Hello,
    I am on H1b and my wife is on H4 visa in the USA. Which are the professions that are good and easy for finding H1b EMPLOYMENT FOR WOMAN in the USA if you have India’s education and couple years of experience in India?

    • What’s her field of education and work experience? Not all professions are specialized enough to have H-1 filed for them. She may have to switch her profession, and this is something you and her really need to think about. It is not always best to end up in a profession you hate but are stuck because it pays bills.

      Besides, if she does have to change profession, then it may be an uphill task to find a good employer and project w/ no relevant education and experience. Studying may be a better option in this scenario, as it would at least prepare her for the profession.

  31. Hey Saurabh, is it possible to hand deliver my H1B application to Vermont service center or they must only be mailed to them? Tomorrow is my last day of OPT and I am waiting for my LCA. If I get it tomorrow morning, I can drive upto Vermont to deliver it personally and get a receipt for my cap gap ext

    • Sorry, my reply might be too late for you. I don’t know if one can hand deliver the petition, but I think it should be possible.

      In either case, it would be good to know if you tried to hand deliver the petition as that would help others on the site who might be contemplating similar action.


      • Sourabh, I got my LCA on 30th June in the afternoon, which was too late for me. Had it come in the morning, I could have tried driving up to VT to try and hand deliver my application. So now now cap-gap extension for me and I am stuck with volunteer work for 3 months. Thanks for your reply though

  32. Hello Saurabh,

    I’m currently on OPT and it’ll be ended on June 30th, 2011. And my H1-B application is processing under FY2011 right now. My application was received at USCIS on Jan 5th, 2011 and I got RFE on April 8th, 2011. My lawyer submitted RFE on May 24th, 2011. I know that it takes time to get result within 60days, but my OPT will expire soon. (It makes me so nervous, tired and crazy that I still don’t know my status will be….) My lawyer told me Cap-Gap extension doesn’t apply to me because my application was filed under FY2011. I didn’t know about that and I already asked my school to change my OPT status. They changed my SEVIS status and sent me new I-20, which is my OPT expires on September 30th, 2011. Is this mean I can work until I get result from USCIS?

    Thank you!

    • Although your SEVIS record has been updated, but that was done by mistake. You should stop working once your OPT expires, and also ask your school to revert the SEVIS update.

  33. Hi Saurabh,
    My L1B extention has been applied by my employer and ack was received with date 06/06. HOw much time does it take on avg for USCIS to take decision. Also I need to know if I can change my location within US to a different client considering it is company dependent visa. Does USCIS send/ask client specific queries and do client visits?
    Also can my company respond to RFEs if I have moved back to India?

    • You can check the processing time on USCIS website for your service center. L-1 visa is both employer and client specific. If the officer has concerns whether the client is genuine or not, they can do more research or issue RFE for additional documentation.

      I don’t see any reason why your company cannot respond to RFEs even when you are not in US.

  34. Hi

    I got my H1B status as denial,is there any way that we can request USCIS to recheck my petition as it is all valid and having all the required documents?
    Any chance of getting it approved?

    • Your employer can file MTR or appeal against the decision. If you and employer feel that your submitted documents were sufficient then you need to file MTR (motion to re-open). If you are planning to submit additional documents to support your case, then that would be an appeal.

      Do you know why your H-1 was denied?

      • it was denied with a reason stating as change of project.My h1b was inititated by my company when i was working for a different client and by the time my petition got RFE and i moved to a different proj and i have provided my current proj details at that time…guess that was the reason for denial.

        am planning to get my visa filed again for this year…but hoping for approval this time.can you tell me is there any chances of my petition getting denied again?as it has got denied once

        • I don’t think your past denial would adversely effect your new processing. As long as you maintained legal status in US (don’t know if you were in US at the time of filing or not) and didn’t submit any false documentation/information, you should be fine.

          Good luck!

          • You don’t have to apply as new in this case always. Since yours is change of project, you can file an appeal for MTR and provide documents stating why there was a change and documents should show the timelines of the same with old and new client. But MTR takes lot of time (almost to a yr) , if you think not worth to go that way. Then you can apply for new, but since it has denied once, it might go for RFE, but again takes time 2 months + RFE time + response time. If you want to expediate via PP, you can do that. I assume your denial was for FY’12 quota and the new would also fall in FY’12 quota ?

    • Hi,

      i got my H-1 B petition approved on oct-3rd,but in my approval notice the visa validity is stated as from oct-1st 2011 to May 7th 2012 which is nearly 6 months.

      I may travel by end of this year.When can i apply for visa extension?is there any conditions that i need to stay for some x time in US before applying for extension?or any other conditions that i need to consider as my visa is only for 6 months 🙁

      • Was the submitted project ending in May 2012? Usually USCIS issues H-1 based on project duration. I assume you will now go for H-1 stamping, and most likely that will be stamped only until petition expiration date.

        Once you are in US, you can file for extension at most 6 months prior to your expiration date. It is not necessary that you should have stayed for x number of months before applying for extension. However you will have to submit these 2 things (amongst other regular petition related documents):
        1. Payslips for the duration you were in US prior to applying for extension
        2. Project/client information going beyond May 2012

        If you apply for extension soon after landing in US, then can apply w/o payslips as you will have none (however USCIS can issue RFE later to ask for them). If you apply for extension after staying in US for a while, then you will have to submit payslips along w/ extension (else USCIS will again issue RFE).

        Does that answer your question?

        • hi..

          My company has filed H1B petition for one of my frnd for this yr i.e. 2011-2012 in permium mode, the petition was approved on oct-11 and we have received a soft copy of the approval from our immigration team which shows 1yr validity.However after couple of days our immigration team says they have received 2 approval notices from USCIS for my friend and both of them have different validity.

          They claim this to be as an error from USCIS and are planning to schedule a call with them to correct/sort it.

          Does that scenario happen?Also would USCIS resolve such issues on call?
          How long would it take to resolve it?


          • Seems like they reviewed the documents and considered your friend eligible for H-1 for 2 different terms. Instead of issuing one, the officer issued 2 (which is incorrect). As it is a mistake on their part, they should correct it. Also, the petition was filed w/ PP, so it should still be reviewed under similar timeframe (15 calendar days).

  35. Hi All,

    I am currently on OPT and my consulting company applied for my H-1B under Premium Processing. I received the receipt on May 11 2011. But even unto this day, the status on the USCIS Website shows as ‘Acceptance’. Its been over a month. So I was wondering why is it taking so long, even after applying my H-1B petition under Premium Processing. Is the fact that my employer is a consulting company delaying my process? Any answers/guidance is very much appreciated. Thanks.

    • PP has a unique phone number you/your employer can call and check. You should have your receipt # when calling them, and ask them for a PP refund as they are supposed to give you some sort of answer within 15 calendar days.

  36. Hello Saurabh,
    My Employer is filing for my H1B extension beyond 6th year (expiring Aug’11) using my ex-employer I-140 this week via premium process.
    Also Employer is filing my I-140 next week via premium.
    Request your advice on these questions:
    – Will a decesion for H1B extension matter whether it is preimum or regular or it is just the time taken for the decesion?
    – Now that H1B extension will be filed premium this week and I-140 premium next week at one stage both will be under process. Will this cause any issue to either of the applications?

    Please advice.

    • PP for H-1 doesn’t impact the outcome. I don’t know if they look more closely at I-140s w/ PP than those w/o PP.

      Also, I don’t think simultaneous processing of those two would be an issue as you are already have an approved I-140 and are looking for 7th year extension. So it should not come as a surprise to USCIS that your current employer has filed your I-140.

  37. Hi,

    My company put in my papers for a H1b visa 16th Dec 10 and my h2b run out in 23rd Dec 10. We got asked to give more information which we did but its now past the 60 days since they received the further information and we are now creeping up on being out of status from 180 days.

    The company lawyer say we ok to stay but i here reports that if you stay over the 180 you could face 3-10 year ban is this true?

    Can a visa application take this long to review? there is 5 members of staff all in the same bout could that be a reason for the long wait?

    • You can continue to stay in US based on a pending petition. Your H-1 petition would have been filed w/ COS, which in turn would have extended your I-94. So you haven’t accumulated any illegal status yet.

      However, you will have to leave US ASAP in case H-1 petition is denied, or immediately change to another visa status (like B-1 or F-1).

      One thing I am not sure about is how long one can stay in US based on pending extension. I have heard some people saying its 180 days, but I am not sure. Check w/ your lawyer. If he says that maximum you can stay in US based on pending extension is 180 days, then you will start accumulating “out of status” after those 180 days collapse; otherwise you are fine.

      The other option you have is to upgrade your petition to premium processing, which would hand you the result within 15 calendar days.

    • Regarding your other question, USCIS might be doing background check on the employer as that’s the common thing to all 5 pending petitions. Do you know the reason for the RFE?

      • They wanted more infomation and prove that the role/job title on each application required a degree to fill that application.

        Thanks for your help.

  38. How long does it takes from RFE “Request for Evidence Response Review“ status to “decision” status in case of normal processing?

  39. Hey, i have a question, how will i know if the petition has been changed to PP from regular. Did the dashboard shows different status for PP or any mail correspondence is being sent mentioning it has been changed to PP from this date on ?

      • Hi, The USCIS website haven’t updated with latest cap count since 1/6/2011. Is it because they haven’t got petitions further or they are have shutdown ?

    • Yes. It holds till your decision is made. After RFE Response review, it is 15 days from that. Eg., USCIS changed the case status(RFE response review) on June 3rd 2011, then it is 15 days from that.

  40. hi Saurabh.
    i got rfe for my h1-b. i have submitted docs. but i need to relocate to a different state but i will continue to work for same company and same employer. its just the location change.. can i do that

    • Yes, but a new LCA needs to be filed. LCA has work location mentioned and the salary varies from location to location.

  41. Hi,
    I am having approved H1b petition and going to apply for visa from different country rather than my country of origin.
    The embassy said that they are ok with my visa application as i am presently working in that third country with valid work visa.
    My question: does it reduce the chance of getting visa if some one apply as a TCN(Third Country National) from another USA emabssy rather than his home country?
    Is there any chances of process might get longer?
    Appreciate your answer.
    Muhammad Tawhidur

    • If your work country is unable to verify your information like education etc (which you did in your home country), then that could delay your processing. Other than that, I don’t see any reason why it would take longer.

  42. Hi,

    My H1b transfer petition has been filed on Apr 29 2011 under regular processing. How long will it take for me to receive a receipt? Any help appreciated.


    • Actual time varies. Official hard copy of the receipt comes in snail mail, 1-2 weeks at least but some people wait for 1-2 months.
      These kind of questions have been answered over and over. This is what Google is for. Please do a bit of research.

    • Sen,

      USCIS would send receipt notice — two days from the petition received date. for your case it would be May 3rd 2011. The receipt notice comes in normal postal service. Usually takes one week. so in your case shd be May 3rd 2011 + one week. If not check with your employer. This is the ideal case, case may vary as Allan mentioned. The delay causing is only the delivery system (postal). Since the receipt notice would have ur received date and receipt sent data also.

  43. Hi,
    I got the hard copy of H1B petition last week.
    1.Different address is mentioned in LCA.Before going to stamping,whether I need to correct the address to the one where I am travelling ? Or after stamping , I need to apply for a new LCA with the correct address?

    2.Hows the validity period of H1B visa calculated ? Is it 3 years from the date it got approved ? Or Is it the day from stamping ?

    Please advice.
    Thanks in advance.

    • Hi SVS,

      May i know when was your visa got approved? I got mine April 11, 2011 but until now my employer said that they have not received the hardcopy documents from USCIS. THanks.

      • Hi Ace,
        On April 13th, USCIS approved my petition and send the package to my employer located in US through courier.On April 27th my employer send the package from US to India office.On May2nd,the package reached India Office. Hope that helps.All my best wishes.

        Thank you.

    • 1. If the actual location is different from LCA location (city, state etc) then one needs to file a new LCA. This is because salaries are dependent on the region, and DOL/USCIS need to verify that the mentioned salary is more than base pay for that region.

      2. Maximum time one can spent in US on H1 and L1 is 6 years and this include only the time spent in US. Anytime spent outside US is not counted. The petition validity is what it says on the 797 document. The employer can file for extensions as they are close to expiry.

  44. Hi, i got my H1B visa approved last April 11, 2011. From USCIS website and the EAC given to me by my employer i can see that “DECISION” has been made. Now, my employer is saying to me that he is going to send me document package soon however its been a month since the approval but USCIS is yet to send the documents. My question is like how long does it take for USCIS to send out these documents. Btw, i was under PP. Thanks.

    • USCIS sends the document to the employer soon after they approve it. Taking postal delays into consideration, your employer should receive it within 1-2 weeks. If your employer has not received it yet, then he should call up USCIS and inquire.

  45. Hi Saurabh,

    I got offer from a US company, the US company has filed H1B petition for me, but they filed in regular, since the offer stands valid from oct 1st 2011. Now how long it will take for the petition to get approved. If i need to work from oct 1st, then at what time i should ask them to change to PP. I have valid B1, can i travel in the meantime to US before my petition gets approved. Will it impact my petition getting approved. Since in india, i gave the documents so I94 was not filled. B1 travel is from my present company for 4 weeks (meetings). If i travelled in B1, and i’m in US during the petition time, will they reject H1 petition since i didn’t fill while i was in india and now in US?

    Waiting for your reply,


    • Since your request start date is Oct, 1st, I think you will be fine. Generally, it takes 2-3 months and you should get a decision by then. Don’t waste money on PP, as you can get the decision sooner but cannot start working until Oct 1st anyway. I’d say if you don’t get the decision by first week of Sept, then upgrade the case to PP.
      You can travel to the US with valid B1, but will need to return to your home country to get H1 stamp before you can come back to US with H1. You can off course stay in the US and change B1 status to H1 but that would complicate things a bit more. Consider an hiring an attorney if you decide to stay.

      • Hi Allan,

        Thanks for the responses. I have one more question, how reliable is the case status check, they regularly update it correctly. Many applicants here have posted it is showing one state for long time or showing different state.


        • Online status does give you good information but something they are slow to update. Personally I’d say I trust the web site 90%, the additional 10% is when I have a physical document in my hand.

          • Hi,
            The regular processing depends on the load at the specified service centers. Is there a website (Statistical/histogram) stating which centers receive how many petitions per yr and forecast for current yr filing ?

  46. I have read on some website that if the processing time is taking more than 2 months, that most likely means the application is denied since it takes longer to put together a document of denial rather than a document of approval. How true is that?

    • Not true. The goal for USCIS is 2 months, but it depends on many circumstances: the amount they receive month to month, complexity of each petition, some centers receive more petitions than others and whether they are shorted on staff in a particular month. I know some people got approval after 5-6 months waiting.

  47. I am travelling on B1 in the May and bck to india in august 1 st week. So can i apply for H1 B visa immedaitely after I come back (in agust). Is it possible?. And also as I will be applying for H1 B so late ,will take loger time to get approval from USCIS.

    • H-1 can be been applied in August provided quota is still open at that time. Looking at the current filing rate, I would expect it to be open. However, you need to follow the weekly count to see how it actually turn out.

      Processing time would depend upon the center and delays at that center. I would expect 2-6 months processing time irrespective of whether it’s filed now or in Aug.

  48. Hi Saurabh,

    I am on L2 visa till Dec 2011 and holding EAD (I-765) and working for a MNC here in US. Can I file H1B visa (transfer from L2 to H1B) on my own expenses instead of my employer going for it ?

    Or should it always be the employer who can file an H1B for an individual..

  49. Hi,
    Please see the details of my H1B Petition below [Normal Processing]
    Submitted the H1B application and related documents to USCIS – July 28th 2010
    Got RFE – Feb 28th 2011
    Submitted RFE documents to USCIS via express mail – April 4th 2011
    USCIS received the RFE documents – April 11th 2011
    USCIS approved the H1b petition – April 13th 2011

    In between this period [July 28th 2010 to April 13th 2011 ],My B1 visa got rejected 214(b) at Chennai Consulate on December 1st 2010 [5 Months back ].
    Now can I go for my H1B stamping ?
    Is there any rule that there should be a gap of 6 months between a Visa rejection and Visa stamping ?


Leave a Comment