H-1B Application Processing Time

The total amount of time required for processing an H-1B petition can range from 2–8+ months, depending on the nature of the case, ISSS caseload, and USCIS processing times. Contact us directly for current processing times.

Departments should start the process as early as possible to protect the employee's immigration status and to avoid gaps or delays in employment, as processing times may change without notice.

Part 1: Initiate the H-1B Request (Hiring Department and Employee)

The first step is for the department/employee to initiate the H-1B request with ISSS. If the position meets eligibility requirements, ISSS will accept the case and email the department and employee with instructions and next steps. A checklist of required documents will be included in the email.

ISSS reserves the right to suggest a later start date or to refer departments to an outside attorney if sufficient time is not provided.

Part 2: Gather Required Documents (Hiring Department and Employee)

Estimated processing time: 2–4+ weeks, depending on department and employee

The department and employee will gather the required documents and complete required online forms, as instructed by ISSS (see step 1).

Part 3: ISSS Processing

Estimated processing time:

  • March–August: 6–8 weeks
  • September–February: 4–6 weeks

ISSS processing begins once all employee/department documents are received. Delays can occur if ISSS must request additional documentation from the department or employee. ISSS has no rush fee.

During this time, ISSS must determine if the offered wage meets the required wage. If the offered wage does not meet the required minimum, communication and decision-making between ISSS and the department can extend the ISSS processing time.

Part 4: USCIS Adjudication

Estimated processing time:

  • With premium processing: 15 days + mailing time (approximately 1 week)
  • Without premium processing: varies from 3 to 8+ months. Please contact ISSS or refer to the USCIS website (Form I-129; most cases filed at the California Service Center) for current processing times.

USCIS adjudication can be delayed by Requests for Evidence (RFEs).

After USCIS receives the petition, and after adjudication, it may take a week or more for ISSS to receive the original I-797 Receipt/Approval Notices by mail. The case type determines which USCIS document is required in order to work:

  • Amendment/Extension: USCIS Receipt Notice is required in order to begin working. Work authorization may continue for up to 240 days after the most recent H-1B expiration date, while the petition is pending with USCIS.
  • Change of Status: USCIS Approval Notice is required in order to begin working.
  • Concurrent Employment: USCIS Receipt Notice is required in order to begin working.
  • Consular Notification: USCIS Approval Notice is required in order to apply for a U.S. visa and travel to the U.S. (see part 5 below).
  • Transfer: USCIS Receipt Notice is required in order to begin working.

Premium processing can be requested with the initial H-1B petition or at any time thereafter. Based on the above timelines and how long it will take for the department, ISSS, and USCIS to complete their work, your department may be notified at any time of the emergent need to add the premium processing fee.

Part 5 (Only for Applicants Outside the U.S.): Apply for a U.S. Visa

Applicants who are not in the U.S. must apply for an H-1B visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad before traveling to the U.S. Wait times vary by consulate; check the Department of State website for estimated wait times. See additional information about the visa application process (including information about security clearances and potential delays).

Last updated: May 1, 2024