H-1B Visa Processing: How Long Does it Take?


One of the most common work-related visas available in the U.S. is the H-1B visa, which gives employers the right to hire professionals for certain specialty occupations that require specialized knowledge in a specific field. If you’re planning on applying for an H-1B visa, it’s importnat to know the key dates and processing times involved. Please continue reading to learn the processing time for an H-1B visa and how an adept Essex County Employment Immigration Attorney can help guide you through the process ahead. 

How Many H-1B Visas Are Issued Each Year?

The H-1B Visa is in very high demand, which is why the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) limits the amount available each fiscal year to 85,000. The maximum number that is made available on an annual basis is 65,000 under the regular cap. It’s crucial to note that out of these, 20,000 are for those with higher education degrees from U.S. institutions, and 6,800 are reserved for citizens of Chile and Singapore as part of a specific Free Trade Agreement. The rest are available for all other applicants.

H-1B visas are processed through a random selection. It doesn’t have a specific order or preference in who gets selected. The H-1B lottery system applies when the number of registrations received exceeds the number of H-1B cap visas available for that fiscal year.

How Long is the Processing Time for an H-1B Visa?

It’s important to understand that applicants have the option of pursuing regular processing or upgrading to premium processing. Essentially, regular processing is the standard processing settled by USCIS. There is no deadline for USCIS to process your H-1B visa petition through regular processing. However, if you file your H-1B visa in premium processing, they will process the application within 15 days.

The H-1B regular processing time can range from anywhere between 2 months to 12 months. The processing time will depend on several factors, such as the specific service center that is processing the petition. It isn’t easy to estimate an accurate timescale. Therefore, if you need a faster response time, it’s in your best interest to upgrade to premium processing. If you decide to upgrade, you should be prepared to pay higher fees.

What Happens if My Premium Processing Request Takes More Than 15 Days?

Due to the influx of H-1B petitions, you may face an issue when it comes to requesting premium processing. As mentioned above, your application will be processed within 15 days if you pay for premium processing. If USCIS fails to review your application within this timeframe, they will issue a refund and continue processing your application in premium processing.

For more information about the H-1B visa, please don’t hesitate to contact a proficient Essex County employment immigration attorney. At the Law Offices of Christopher T. Howell, Esq., we are prepared to help you navigate each step of this time-consuming and confusing process.