Can it save H-1B hopefuls some time and anxiety in a long and exhausting journey?
If you are a new entrant in the pool of those aspiring for an H-1B or work-based visa to live and work in the US, you would have known by now that it can be a long and exahausting journey waiting for the next updates.
For those who are lucky enough to be picked up in the first round of the lottery there is often a question in their mind — whether to opt for premium processing or not for their application.
Read: Everything about premium processing for F-1 visas (March 21, 2023)
It is important to note that the time your H-1B application would take depends on the processing type your prospective employer chooses for your application. There are two types of processing – regular or premium.
It may also be noted that some times in the past, the USCIS has suspended the option of premium processing, due to high volume of applications. The premium processing route is then opened later for applicants in phases.
But before asking your sponsor or employer if they are willing to file your application in premium processing, it may be important to understand the advantages.
Read: USCIS expands premium processing for certain F-1 students (March 7, 2023)
What is H-1B regular processing
If your application has been filed in a regular process with regular form I-129 along with the standard fee and the documents required for your application, then the USCIS will use the standard process to proceed with your application.
Now why regular processing can be a waiting game is because there is no set timeline given by the USCIS for an application to process.
The entire step can be slow or fast depending on various factors like your documentation, the load of applications at the service center and many other factors only USCIS would know.
If you have filed for a regular processing on an average be ready for a wait ranging from two months to even up to six months. If an applicant receives an RFE or Request for Identification then it can take even longer than that.
Read: USCIS expanding premium processing for EB-1 and EB-2 (January 13, 2023)
If you are looking at an early decision so that you can plan your next move, then premium processing does work in that regard. The employer or the sponsor is required to fill the form I-907 and is also required to pay an extra processing fee and the USCIS can adjudicate on the application within 15 calendar days. The premium processing fee is $2,500 for an application.
The good news is that you can opt for premium processing at the time of first application, but in case your sponsor missed filing then, you could also opt for the service once your application is picked in the lottery and getting the receipt notice.
In a rare case when USCIS is not able to fulfill the application within the stipulated timeline, the entire premium processing fee is refunded.