The weeks and months following the filing of the petition are a period of anxious waiting for the beneficiary and the petitioner. Processing times for H-1B visas petitions may vary depending upon a variety of factors, including the USCIS Service Center with which they were filed and the time of year when they are filed. Obviously, with the H-1B visa Cap season opening during the first week of April, USCIS receives a high volume H-1B visa petitions.

For petitions filed using the normal processing speed, beneficiaries should expect to receive a decision approximately three to four months after the petition is filed. If a Request for Evidence is issued by USCIS, the decision may be delayed even longer.

Understandably, this wait can be difficult for employers who are trying to make staffing arrangements; it can be even more difficult for offshore beneficiaries who are trying to make arrangements to leave their homes and come to the United States to work.

It is possible to accelerate this process by filing or upgrading the case to Premium Processing for an additional $1225 USCIS filing fee. This can result in the case being processed in less than 15 days; however, this is rarely worth the cost in H-1B cap cases since the approval doesn’t take effect until October 1st. Having an approval in May that isn’t effective until October isn’t much better than having an approval in July that’s effective in October, except for the peace of mind that may come from knowing it’s approved.