How Long Does H-1B Visa Processing Take?

H-1B Visa document

The H-1B visa processing time can vary greatly depending on a range of factors. Once your employer has completed the preliminary steps of the application process, including securing a Labor Certification Application, and has successfully submitted an H-1B petition, the processing is largely in the hands of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). 

Due to the annual cap on H-1B visas, employers are typically required to submit the petition six months before the employment is set to begin if using the lottery. This should, in theory, provide adequate time to receive approval for the visa and ensure that the employment begins according to schedule. Unfortunately, it is not always this straightforward. In some cases, the USCIS takes longer than six months or even a year to process H-1B visa applications.

In general, it takes between 5 to 8 months to process an H-1B visa application. It should be noted that this is merely an estimation. It can take much less time to process an application or, on the other hand, it can even take over a year in some situations. USCIS has an online tool to check the case processing times for various visas, including the H-1B visa. When using this tool, be sure you know which service center is handling your application. 

Ultimately, it is advised to prepare for even the most unideal situation. It may take longer than anticipated to process an H-1B application. Be sure to account for potential delays and ensure the proposed employment is not put in jeopardy due to longer-than-expected processing times. Otherwise, it may be beneficial to consider taking steps to expedite the H-1B visa process. 

Can I Expedite My H-1B Visa Process?

It is possible to expedite the H-1B visa process. There are a few strategies that can be used to speed up the processing time of your visa. One of the most common strategies that individuals and their employers use to expedite the H-1B visa process is premium processing. Employers who are willing to pay an increased fee can enjoy the guarantee of a decision (or a Request for Evidence, if necessary) within 15 days of filing. The 15-day window begins when the USCIS receives your petition. If a decision or RFE is not given within the 15-day window, the Premium Processing service fee will be refunded to the applicant’s employer.

The premium processing service has been a great relief to many hopeful H-1B employees. While optional, premium processing allows petitioners and their employers to move through the application process and secure H-1B visa status as quickly and expeditiously as possible. To request premium processing, Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing Service is required. The premium processing fee for H-1B applications is $2,500 and is paid in addition to all other applicable filing fees. 

We often receive questions from H-1B hopefuls and their employers about whether or not it is possible to expedite the process by bypassing the lottery system. Using the lottery system, potential H-1B applicants register and are chosen at random to file their visa applications. Individuals who are not selected cannot submit their applications and must wait until the next fiscal year. Fortunately, we have created an opportunity for individuals to obtain their H-1B visas without using the lottery via our partnerships with the Open Avenues Foundation. Open Avenues promotes STEM education in the United States for underrepresented students. This opportunity is a cap-exempt solution for individuals who do not want to waste time registering for the lottery and waiting for the results of the lottery selection. Rather, H-1B hopefuls are able to apply directly for their visa with sponsorship from the Open Avenues Foundation. 

Contact an Experienced Attorney at Alcorn Immigration Law Today

For many, the H-1B visa lottery and application can be a time-consuming and arduous process. Understandably, many people want to complete this process as quickly and efficiently as possible. At Alcorn Immigration Law, we help to connect the best and brightest talent in the world with leading American companies. We have developed a proven methodology for achieving approval and have fostered opportunities to help expedite the visa process, therefore making us better able to assist our clients in securing an H-1B visa. With offices in Mountain View, CA, and New York, NY, we have the experience and resources required to ensure success for your case. To connect with an immigration attorney, consider contacting us at +1(855) 546-0015 today.