H1b extension processing time track current processing dates

H1b extension current processing times are as follows. H1b extension processing times are obtained from USCIS

Service center Petition number pattern Processing Cases As Of Date
California WAC-XX-XXX-XXXXX July 2, 2016
Vermont EAC-XX-XXX-XXXXX May 30, 2016
Nebraska LIN-XX-XXX-XXXXX October 2, 2016

Note that the data published by USCIS can be delayed as much as 75 days. So, realistic current processing times is likey advanced by approximately 30 days. So to arrive at the current processing dates add a month to the dates above. And this doesn’t include the premium processing times. H1b extension premium processing times continues to take roughly upto 15 days. But USCIS is suspending all H1b premium processing starting April 3rd 2017. This can last upto 6 months.

Following is the historical H1b extension processing times, H1b-extension-processing-times

H1b extension processing by USCIS continues to be slow both at the Vermont and California service centers. The backlogs are a concern because it has other side effects like inability to travel, driving license renewal delays etc. H1b processing times used to be around 4 months. But those days are gone and processing times are inching towards 240 days. 240 days has some ramifications as discussed subsequently in this post. But that used to be rare, but it seems to be a significant cause of concern.

Both Employers and employees have been concerned about the processing delays of H1b extension applications. The additional burden of H1b amendments that USCIS started processing last year might have added to the additional delay. Whatever may be the reason, elongated H1b extension processing times can be problematic. It could mean gaps in employment, inability to travel outside the US etc. The employee can continue to work while the extension processing is pending from the employer. However, the cause of concern is the H1b 240 day rule which is discussed later. The h1b extension processing times are trending towards the 240 days.

This uncertainty can largely be handled by upgrading to premium processing. But that’s additional cost either the employer or the employee has to bear. And if substantial number of employers start upgrading to premium processing, then that could compound the problem for everyone in the long term. For exactly the same reason USCIS suspended premium processing starting from April 3rd 2017. In these uncertain times, it’s essential for every one to be aware of the 240 day rule.

240 Day Rule

When a H1b extension is applied, the employee can continue to work up to 240 days after the current visa expiration. 240 days start from the day of expiration of the current visa, not the time of application of extension. And H1b extension can be filed as early as 6 months before expiry. So in theory if the extension is applied 6 months before expiry, the employer can effectively g get 14 months (6+8) for getting a decision from USCIS about the extension. That’s plenty of time to get a decision from USCIS. So it’s better to apply early to capture as much buffer time as possible from the 6 months window. However, if the 240 days has passed then the employee may have to stop working.

240 day rule also has impact on international travel. While the employee can continue to work in the US as long as the 240 days is not reached according to the above definition. But if the employee leaves the country while waiting, he cannot comeback into the US until the extension is approved by USCIS. 240 day rule doesn’t cover travel. So, H1b workers have to work with the employer’s attorney to manage all situations.

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