H-1B

Processing Time for H-1B Petition

The length of time it takes to process and approve an H-1B petition is often impacted by the extent of the backlogs at the Department of Labor and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the two key players in the H-1B process. Due to the ever-increasing turnaround times at both of these agencies, the OIS should be in receipt of the sponsoring department’s completed H-1B paperwork according to the following schedule:

  • Request for “regular” H-1B processing for a new H-1B employee (initial petition) who is currently outside of the United States or who is in the U.S. in another nonimmigrant status and changing to H-1B status: six (6) months in advance of the proposed employment date.
  • Request for “expedited” H-1B processing for a new H-1B employee (initial petition) who is currently outside of the United States or who is in the U.S. in another nonimmigrant status and changing to H-1B status: five (5) months in advance of the proposed employment date.
  • Request for an individual who is currently in H-1B status at another institution (change of employer): Five (5) months in advance of the proposed employment date.
  • Request for an extension of H-1B authorization: Five (5) months in advance of the expiration date of the employee’s current period of H-1B employment.

Understand that the OIS cannot ensure timely processing of an H-1B case unless these schedules are followed.

Expedited processing

The processing of an H-1B petition can be expedited by filing Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing Service and paying an additional $1,225 fee. Under premium processing, USCIS guarantees to have the petition adjudicated within 15 days of receipt. The $1,225 premium processing fee should always be paid by the sponsoring department if the purpose for expediting the processing of the petition is primarily for the benefit of the department (department wants the individual to start work by a specific date).

The fee should be paid by the employee only when it is obvious that the employee will receive the primary benefit from expedited processing (employee desires to begin working in advance of the date proposed by the department), with one exception: if subtracting the $1,225 fee from the employee’s proposed salary results in a salary figure that is below the prevailing wage for the position, the employee cannot pay the fee. When submitting a requisition to the Accounting Department for the premium processing fee, departments should attach page 4 of the Instructions for Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing Service.

Premium processing can be requested at the same time the initial H-1B petition and accompanying documents are filed, or it can be requested later, after the petition has been filed under regular process. Departments interested in utilizing premium processing should indicate it by checking the appropriate box on the petition request form. A check for $1,225 should be included to cover the filing fee.