No matter whether you are a beneficiary or a sponsoring employer who wants to file an H-1B petition with USCIS, you certainly want to know when you can expect the petition approval and what this application requires. It is good to know that H-1B processing can vary greatly depending on the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) service centers you filed with and the processing type you have chosen.
The premium processing service provided by USCIS has been a significant relief to the U.S. work visa petitioners and beneficiaries. This optional but highly beneficial USCIS service allows visa applicants to expedite their application processing to meet the certain requirements and get the H-1B status.
If this is your first time applying for an H-1B petition with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services USCIS or if you apply for visa transfer, you may be wondering about the premium processing times, how to avoid delays, if there is SLA, and many other questions.
Don’t worry- you are at the right place!
What is H-1B Visa?
First, let’s make a quick overview of what an H-1B visa is.
The H-1B category is an employment-based visa that allows foreign nationals to get the nonimmigrant status and perform specialized services in different subcategories to temporarily work in the U.S.
H-1B visa has relatively low requirements, making it the most popular U.S. nonimmigrant visa.
You are eligible to apply for an H-1B visa under any of these three subcategories:
- H-1B: Specialty Occupations;
- H-1B2: Department of Defense (DOD) Cooperative Research and Development Project; or
- H-1B3: Fashion Model of extraordinary ability and merit
Premium processing: Expedited processing time
Premium Processing for the H-1B visa is a service provided by the USCIS, Department of Homeland Security. If you choose the premium processing, the USCIS guarantees to process your petition within 15 days.
Your sponsoring employer will need to sponsor your visa and follow three steps:
- Filing Labor Condition Application (LCA)
- Filing I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker
- H-1B Visa Application
Step 1: Filing Labor Condition Application (LCA)
Your prospective employer starts the process by filing an ETA 9035, Labor Condition Application (LCA), to receive the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) certification. This process applies to the specialty occupation and fashion model subcategories.
Step 2: Filing I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker
After you get the approval of the DOL certification, you will proceed and file an I-129 petition with USCIS. The form I-129 must be correctly completed, signed, and submitted along with the filing fee that your sponsoring employer needs to pay and supporting evidence and the approved DOL-certified LCA.
Step 3: Applying for H-1B Visa
After you complete the previous steps, you (the beneficiary) can apply for an H-1B visa with the U.S. Department of States (DOS) at the U.S. consulate or embassy in your home country or country of residence. The processing time for all these stages usually takes several months to complete.
In general terms, premium processing for an H-1B visa application is a unique USCIS service that provides expedited processing time. Just like most employment-based petitions, the H-1B visa requires that you have an employment offer in the U.S. in any of the three mentioned subcategories. Also, you must be eligible to apply and meet specific eligibility criteria for the visa.
H-1B Premium Processing Eligibility Requirements
Only your employer can request the H-1B premium processing and pay the premium processing service fees. But, if an alien worker wants to use the premium processing to obtain more timely employment authorization, than foreign national has to pay the fee, as well. Remember that the premium processing will not change the start date of working at your new position.
There is an exception: if you want to file your H-1B petition as an entrepreneur. In this case, you have to set up your own company with a board of directors or CEO, and then this company can sponsor your H-1B petition.
Any other scenario requires a U.S. employer to file H-1B petitions on behalf of the beneficiary.
Also, your attorney or representative who has filed a G-28 notice of appearance on behalf of the employer to request this service can represent you.
Premium Processing Service Fee
The premium processing involves submitting a completed and signed USCIS form I-907. The premium processing fee is $2,500. If the Department of Homeland Security does not process your petition within 15 calendar days, it refunds the whole amount of the Premium Processing fee.
The 15 calendar day period begins when USCIS receives your petition, after which you may receive an approval notice, a notice of intent to deny, a denial notice, a request for evidence (RFE), or the notice for opening an investigation for fraud or misrepresentation.
If your petition requires the submission of additional evidence or a response to a notice of intent to deny, you will get a new 15 calendar day period that will begin after USCIS receives a complete response to the request for evidence or notice of intent to deny.
What Do I Pay For When I Request Premium Processing Service?
Premium processing filing fees are comprised of several components:
- Form I-907, H-1B Premium Processing Service fee – $1,440.
- Fraud Prevention and Detection fee – $500
- I-129 Petition Fee – $460
- Public Law 114 – 113 Fee: $4,000 (applicable only to organizations that have upwards of 50 employees with more than half of H-1B or L-1 status).
When To Request H-1B Premium Processing Service?
Usually, H-1B visa petitioners and applicants choose the premium processing service when they need to expedite the process for some reason. When you cannot afford to wait for the long, it is cost-effective to use premium processing.
By paying the required processing fee, you get the guarantee that USCIS will decide upon your application within a 15 calendar day processing time.
Anyway, as we mentioned previously, you can receive the refund if USCIS fails to notify you within this timeframe.
How to Request for Premium Processing Service
An H-1B petitioner (your prospective employer), attorney, or representative must complete an I-907, Request for Premium Processing Service, and the form I-129 and file H-1B petitions concurrently or separately with all required documents.
A concurrent immigrant petition can be filed with the USCIS service centers stated as the appropriate location on the form instructions.
If you have already filed your form I-129 and want to request a premium processing service separately, you need to submit your form I-907 with the service center where the form I-129 is currently pending.
When submitting a request for premium processing, the petitioner needs to provide a copy of the I-797 and Receipt Notice for the form I-129. If your petition has been transferred to a different service center and you received a transfer notice, it is essential to file your I-907 with the service center along with the transfer notice.
You need to be careful where you file the form I-907 because if you file it at an office that doesn’t have geographic jurisdiction over the underlying petition, the USCIS may reject your premium processing request.
H-1B visa is not the only visa that can be processed through a premium processing service. More information about USCIS petitions that allow premium processing please find here.
How We Can Help?
If you seek an immigration attorney who can help you navigate complex immigration laws and procedures, book your consultation with Herman Legal Group. We are an award-winning immigration law firm, founded in 1995, and experienced in providing legal services in all areas of immigration law: family, employment, investor, deportation defense, citizenship. A little professional guidance can help you save money and time. The Herman Legal Group likely speaks your language – They speak Spanish, Arabic, Chinese, Russian, and other languages.
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