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H-1B Processing Timelines

Timelines for submitting H-1B Status

Below are judiciously established timelines by OIA for requesting H-1B visa status. These timelines include OIA processing time, attorney processing time and estimated application processing times at numerous government agencies. The time to courier immigration documents abroad, estimated timelines for scheduling visa appointments at a U.S Embassy and paying the SEVIS fee by the foreign national, estimated time required to make travel arrangements, find housing in the U.S. and/ or arrive in Merced need to also be taken into consideration. There are also delays that may occur in the event the foreign national is subject to special administrative processing by the U.S. State Department or any delays that may be caused by U.S. or international holidays that are observed by U.S. Embassies and Consulates abroad.


Initial H-1B entry without Premium Processing 8 Months before appointment start date

Initial H-1B entry with Premium Processing

4 Months before appointment start date
Change of Employer H-1B Petitions 3 Months before appointment start date
H-1B Extensions 3 Months before current appointment ends
H-1B Amendments 3 Months before any material changes to the terms of employment occur


Regulations do not permit a form I-129 petition filing with USCIS more than 6 months prior to the date employment is scheduled to begin. USCIS processing times consistently fluctuate Due to fluctuating USCIS processing time (anywhere from 3-12 months), OIA cannot guarantee that an approval notice can be obtained on time without premium processing even if a petition is received at OIA 6 months before the appointment start date. For cases that have not received an approval but are nearing the appointment start date, OIA recommends filing for premium processing after the fact to ensure a timely adjudication.

If the H-1B employee will travel internationally or needs a drivers' license renewal, premium processing is recommended.

Expedite requests:  Requests for H-1B visa services received with less than 3 months processing time as noted above will be subject to an expedite fee. These requests should receive OIA approval before submission. In cases where expedite service is requested, OIA will expedite our processing of the petition but do not have control over the processing timelines of other government agencies once we have submitted the petition for adjudication.

Please be advised, however, that the above-estimated processing timelines are subject to change without notice due to changes in the regulations or due to backlogs within a particular government agency. OIA cannot control delays of this nature.