H-1B Processing Time

NOTE: During the 2015-2016 academic year universities across the country saw dramatic delays in H-1B processing times with USCIS. The 2016-2017 year does not show much promise of getting any better. Yale and other peers have been active in lobbying the government to have faster processing times without having to pay Premium Processing. These discussions are still on going. In the meantime Yale departments should be aware that in many cases paying for Premium Processing may be necessary.

There are two separate government agencies involved in H-1B visa sponsorship: the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) and the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services office (USCIS).  The total processing time includes Yale preparation (host department and international scholar), DOL and USCIS.  The only step that can be expedited is the last one: USCIS.  Regular processing ($460) can take 6 months or longer. Premium Processing, for an additional $1,225 USCIS fee, will take a minimum of 3 months. These timeframes often change slightly depending on business pressures at the DOL or USCIS.

Additional Considerations

  • Premium Processing: To expedite the very last step in the H-1B process from 3-6 months to 15 days, the application must include an additional fee to USCIS of $1,225. You can request Premium Processing before OISS submits the application or you can request it after the petition is received by USCIS. All OISS needs is the additional fee to send to USCIS.  If requesting after the H-1B has been submitted to USCIS, OISS will need a courier label to submit the request.  The USCIS address may be found on the Application Fees form. An optional pre-paid return courier label may also be included for faster return delivery of the approval notice.  Please contact your OISS advisor for further details.
  • Yale employee H-1B extension of time: It is normally not necessary to use Premium Processing for extensions, since in most cases the employee can continue to work while the application is pending. The exception is if the scholar needs to travel internationally during the extension process. See details here.
  • H-1B inside the U.S. with another employer: It is normally not necessary to use Premium Processing for a change of employer, since in many cases the employee can continue to work while the new Yale application is pending. However there are specific conditions that must be met. The process is called Portability.