During H-1B cap season we hear lots of rumors about the idea that filing an H-1B cap case by using premium processing will increase the odds of being accepted.

The first thing to note is that there is generally no need to file an H-1B cap case using the Premium Processing service (an additional $1225 to USCIS to get a decision in 15 days) because the H-1B petitions filed on April 1 have October 1 start dates. USCIS will be finished processing the case long before October 1, so you don’t need to spend the extra money to get a decision any sooner than they already plan on giving it to you.

For a couple of years now, we have been hearing people say that they believe USCIS wants the extra money it receives for Premium Processing, so it will accept more cases in the “lottery” filed via Premium Processing than filed with the regular processing fee. If USCIS were to do this, it would be a clear violation of it’s own regulations and a violation of US immigration law.

We do not believe this is is the case. Our own internal numbers from last year’s lottery show that our acceptance rate for H-1B cases filed with Premium Processing was essentially the same as the rate of acceptance for those filed with regular processing. We had several clients who wanted to try filing with Premium Processing, so we did. Unfortunately for them, they did not get the bump in acceptance they were hoping for.

Part of the reason people may think this works has to do with the fact that everyone loves a conspiracy theory, and part of it may be due to the fact that some people are drawing this conclusion based on a very small sample size. If you only file five case and you use Premium Processing for all five, you may be lucky and get four accepted for filing (a rate of 80%, well above last year’s general rate of below 50%). Does this mean Premium Processing cases are accepted at a higher rate than regular processing cases, or does it mean you were luck and have a skewed result due to your small sample size? We think it’s the latter.

This does not mean there is no good reason to use Premium Processing. Some people want a decision sooner so they can move forward with planning. Knowing for certain in late May or early June that an employee is going to be here after October 1 can be very helpful for planning staff arrangements. Some people may not want to wait until August to find that out. Other employers file with Premium Processing so they can tell their employee they are doing everything possible to get the visa approved. Other’s use Premium Processing so their employees can make concrete travel plans. Or so their employees can arrange to go back to school if their H-1B is not approved.

All of the above can be good reasons for using Premium Processing on an H-1B cap case. We just don’t think paying the extra fee to increase the odds of getting selected in the lottery should be one of them.