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What you need to know about H-1B processing time

interstride logo by Interstride
May 4, 2021

If you didn’t already know, the H-1B visa allows companies and employers in the United States to temporarily employ workers from other countries in specialty occupations. These occupations typically account for the information technology sector in the United States. According to the United States Department of Labor, individuals who apply for this status need a four year bachelor’s degree from an accredited United States college/university or equivalent to qualify.

When applying for the H-1B work visa it is important to account for the unpredictable processing time. This processing time could take a few weeks or months. The H-1B process can seem daunting at first, but it doesn’t have to be. In this blog, we provide information about the processing time and what to expect when applying for the H-1B work visa.

Estimated H-1B processing time in 2021

In 2021, it is estimated that the standard H-1B processing time can take 3 months to a 1 year to be approved. Then the receipt for applying typically takes 3 to 21 days to arrive. One way around this lengthy processing time and waiting period is H-1B premium processing, which can speed the approval process up to 1 to 15 days.

However, the premium processing route is around $2,500 more expensive. If premium processing is being used and for some reason the application has not been processed in 15 days, the fee will be refunded in full. Additionally, with premium processing, the receipt for applying is usually sent in 1 to 3 days but can take up to 21 days to arrive. It is important to remember that paying for premium processing does not help you get approved, rather it provides an answer sooner.

It is important to note that during the Coronavirus Pandemic, the H-1B visa process has maintained its processing times and has not seen impacts from government shutdowns.

Longer processing times and denial rates

In some cases, the H-1B visa processing time can be longer than previously mentioned. If this happens to you, your application may be stuck in the processing stage. To get answers on the status and what is making the application take longer to process, you can contact your employer or attorney to ask them to put in a service request with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

To do this, you will need your receipt and the date when your case was filed. If for some reason, you are experiencing a longer processing time, doing this might help resolve the issue sooner and get your application moving again. You, yourself, can also check the case processing time on the USCIS website by inputting the form and field office information from a form you can find here.

With every H-1B visa application, there is a chance of being denied. Understanding denial and approval rates can allow you to make educated choices when applying for jobs. Denial rates have shown that consulting companies have a lower rate of H-1B approvals in comparison to other companies. The table below shows examples of companies with estimated low or high rates for approvals and denials.

CompanyApproval RateH-1B Lottery or Transfer Approval RateH-1B Extension Approval RateDenial Rates
Cognizant68% (low)38% (low)71% (low)52% (high)
Capgemini60% (low)20% (low)74% (low)27% (mid)
Cummin97% (high)96% (high)95% (high)2.17% (low)
Google98% (high)99% (high)99% (high)15% (mid)

This chart shows just a few examples of companies with low or high approval and denial numbers. Before applying to a company, where you will need a H-1B visa, it can be helpful to know the odds of whether you will get approved or not. Additionally, knowing this information may influence where you choose to apply to or where you choose not to apply to.

Helpful tools and resources

You do not have to feel alone while going through the H-1B visa application process, especially when you are waiting during the processing time. There are tools and resources that can help guide you throughout the process.

  • Case Status Checker: This tool helps you check your case status online and all you need to check the status is your receipt number.
  • Reports and Studies: These resources allow you to learn more about the inner workings of visa application processing, including the H-1B visa application approval process and processing time.

If you are looking for more helpful tools or resources throughout the H-1B process, USCIS offers a variety of tools and resources here.

How to know if you are approved and what comes after

The H-1B visa process can take some time, specifically anywhere between days to weeks to a year. If USCIS approves your H-1B visa application, your employer should receive the petition receipt and forward it to you. On this document, you will find the petition receipt number. This number is important for keeping track of your case and approval. This number can also be used to check the status of your case on the USCIS website throughout the processing time. Once you have received your official approval, you can begin to schedule your stamping interview.

Waiting is never easy, but it is important to stay positive throughout the waiting process until you are approved. If you begin to feel anxious because it has been awhile since you heard anything, don’t hesitate to look up your case number and see where your application is in the application process. Doing this might also allow you to make an educated estimate on how much longer it could take for you to get an answer. The H-1B visa application process and processing time does not have to be daunting if you approach it one step at a time.