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How to upgrade H1B from Regular Processing to H1B Premium Processing with FAQs

14,604 views 20 comments
posted Dec 1, 2015 in H1B Visas by dan (23,600 points)
edited Dec 1, 2015 by dan

The process of upgrading or converting an H1B filed under Regular Processing to H1B Premium Processing is simple and involves few steps.

Before you plan to upgrade your pending Regular H1B Petition to Premium Processing, please ask yourself...

  • My H1B is pending outside the processing window - Should I upgrade?
  • My H1B is under an RFE and it's over 60 days since my H1B Employer/ Attorney responded to the RFE - Should I upgrade?

If your H1B is pending for a long time and is outside the USCIS processing times OR an RFE response was sent and it is over 60 days, you may want to consider asking your H1B Employer or your Attorney to Contact USCIS first!

Link to USCIS Processing Times

Call the USCIS at (800) 375-5283 or write to USCIS where your H1B case is pending adjudication. If your H1B Receipt Notice starts with "WAC" your H1B is pending with CSC (California Service Center) and if "EAC" your H1B is pending with VSC (Vermont Service Center)

USCIS addresses to write about a pending H1B Petition

USCIS California Service Center
24000 Avila Road
2nd Floor, Room 2312
Laguna Niguel, CA 92677

USCIS Vermont Service Center
75 Lower Welden Street
St. Albans, VT 05479-0001

Can I call the USCIS to inquire about my pending H1B Petition?

NO. USCIS will provide information to either H1B petitioning Employer or the Attorney on record.

Would it be possible for H1B Employer/Attorney Fax or Email the USCIS to inquire about my pending H1B Petition?

NO. Email/Fax Service is only available to Premium Processing Cases.


If you do not fall into the above situation(s) or plan to upgrade, please read the steps involved in converting an H1B Regular Processing petition to an H1B Premium Processing Petition. Please note that  upgrade requires filing by your H1B Employer/Attorney, and you can not file yourself. crying

Checklist for upgrading to H1B Premium Processing

  • Completed Form I-907 by Employer or Attorney
  • Employer/Attorney ensures to list Phone, Email and a Fax Number on form I-907
  • A check or Money order for $1225.00 payable to Department of Homeland Security 
  • A copy of the I-797/H1B Receipt Notice
  • If there was an RFE, a copy of the RFE Response (Not required, it’s a good idea to include)

Send it to the following addresses based on the location of the proposed H1B Employment.

If your H1B Receipt Number starts with WAC – Mail to California Service Center

If using United States Postal Service:

USCIS

Attn: Premium Processing Service
California Service Center
P.O. Box 10825
Laguna Niguel, CA 92607

If using Courier Service like Fedex, UPS, DHL:

Premium Processing Service
California Service Center
24000 Avila Road
2nd Floor, Room 2312
Laguna Niguel, CA  92677

If your H1B Receipt Number starts with EAC – Mail to Vermont Service Center

If using United States Postal Service or Courier Service like Fedex, UPS, DHL:

Premium Processing Service
USCIS
Vermont Service Center
30 Houghton Street
St. Albans. VT 05478-2399

If your case is outside processing time OR pending for more than 60 days after an RFE response is received; your H1B Employer/Attorney should also include information as below on the cover letter. This will notify USCIS that  the case has taken longer and they may adjudicate the case without converting to Premium Processing and you will save the fee of $1225.00. 

We are upgrading to Premium Processing as the adjudication of the H1B petition is outside the USCIS Processing Time

OR

We are upgrading to Premium Processing as the adjudication of the H1B petition has taken longer than 60 Days from the day USCIS received the RFE response.

What happens if there is a coincidence? - H1B gets approved when we upgrade to Premium Processing!

USCIS will return the H1B Premium Processing Package along with the fee of $1225.00

Can I pay the H1B Premium Processing fee of $1225.00?

Yes, USCIS accepts a Check or Money Order from Beneficiary (you), H1B Employer and Attorney.

What happens when my H1B upgrades to Premium Processing?

Within 4 Days, your H1B Employer will receive an email with the I-797 Receipt notice followed by a Physical Copy in the mail.

Sample Email Receipt

The XYZ Service Center has approved the following I-129 Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker that had been filed under the Premium Processing Service:

Receipt Number: XXX0123456789
Petitioner: YOUR COMPANY NAME

Beneficiary: YOUR NAME
DOB: 00/00/00
Classification sought: H1B

The Form I-797 Receipt Notice will follow in the mail.

The California Service Center will adjudicate this case within 15 calendar days of the "received date" set forth above. If approved, you will receive e-mail notification of such. If we require additional evidence, we will fax said request to the fax number provided on your completed I-907 Request for Premium Processing Form.

How long USCIS takes to process an H1B Premium Processing case?

USCIS take 15 Calender days (Yes, including holidays and weekends) to adjudicate the H1B petition. You will either receive an H1B approval or an RFE within 15 days.

What happens if there is an RFE? 

The 15 Day clock will reset and USCIS will calculate 15 days from the day they receive the response to RFE

If your Employer has included a Fax Number, USCIS will Fax a copy of the RFE Notice. Please note that USCIS will NOT email RFE Notices.

Would it be possible to respond to an RFE via Fax?

Yes with limitations. A Fax response may be sent with fewer than 20 pages.

How do we get notified when the case is approved?

You may sign up for Alerts Please Read How to get Email and Text Alerts for your petition with USCIS

Your H1B Employer/Attorney receives a courtesy email from the USCIS with approval notification. This email contains USCIS also sends the I-797 Approval Notice using regular postal mail service.

Sample Email Approval

The XYZ Service Center has approved the following I-129 Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker
that had been filed under the Premium Processing Service:

Receipt Number: XXX0123456789
Petitioner: YOUR COMPANY NAME

Beneficiary: YOUR NAME
DOB: 00/00/00
Classification: H1B
Starting Validity Date: 00/00/00
Ending Validity Date: 00/00/00
Consulate notified (if applicable):
I-94 # (if applicable): 99999999999

The form I-797 Approval Notice will follow in the mail.

Can I use the Courtesy Email to Travel or for H1B Visa Stamping?

NO. You may not use the Courtesy Email to Travel or for H1B Visa Stamping; you will need the original I-797/H1B approval notice.

Is it possible to request USCIS to fax or email a scanned copy of the physical I-797 H1B approval Notice?

Yes, we were successful in obtaining scanned copies via fax and email.

I heard Upgrading to Premium processing attracts RFEs?

Come on...It's a myth. As long as your H1B documentation is good, you should not receive an RFE with regular or premium processing.

Conclusion

These days many file/upgrade into H1B Premium Processing for various reasons to play safe. However, please note that if you are at a direct employer/full-time or your H1B consulting employer/client can support documentation, there is no point in spending $1225.00. If you are in an emergency travel situation or not sure of available documentation, you may plan for premium processing. THIS IS JUST MY OPINION!

  • Has anyone recently upgraded to premium processing?  (I am sure many of you have..) ​
  • Have I missed anything? 
  • Should I expand any section?
  • Please comment with your Experience(s)

20 Comments

commented Dec 5, 2015 by h1bsoldier
What happens if there is an RFE after upgrade? I heard that many H1Bs get into an RFE situation when upgraded to Premium...
commented Dec 5, 2015 by dan (23,600 points)
If the initial h1b under normal processing was properly filed with all required documentation, you may not get an RFE. RFE is possible even with regular processing, if there is a problem with documentation. It's just that under premium processing things happen fast and people think that premium processing causes trouble!
commented Dec 16, 2015 by Kumar
Will the receipt number changes if i upgrade from Regular to Premium process. Do they send new receipt number upon initialtion of PP or it will be same receipt number?
commented Dec 16, 2015 by anonymous
It would be same
commented Dec 17, 2015 by dan (23,600 points)
In most cases, it will be the same receipt number.
commented Dec 22, 2015 by anonymous
My H-1B (PP, New , Cap-Exempt) application reached USCIS California service center on Dec 11. In UPS proof of delivery it was mentioned Left At: Reception, Signed By:XXXX.

Till today, we haven't received a email notification of the receipt from USCIS that my case is accepted for processing, I checked with bank today morning also whether the cashier check (money order) for PP sent with petition has cashed or not. They said check is still not cashed.  I understand my PP time end dec 26th.Confused on next step.
commented Dec 22, 2015 by dan (23,600 points)
I am assuming there was some error with filing, USCIS may have rejected the applications for several reasons:

Signatures on some pages of forms missing (Form I-129, Form I-907)
Your Employer sent an incorrect fee
USCIS may have not accepted your H1B petition as cap-exempt

The best way is to ask your Employer to call or email the Premium Processing Unit at : csc-premium.processing@dhs.gov or 1-(866) 315-5718
commented Dec 22, 2015 by anonymous
Thank you. Can beneficiary(me) also try calling them to find information or it should be only employer/lawyer should call them.  Its a new job in non profit university.
commented Dec 22, 2015 by dan (23,600 points)
NO. It must be the Employer or Attorney. But, an attorney  is representing the case, it is a rare occasion they do mistakes. They should immediately call USCIS!
commented Dec 22, 2015 by anonymous
thank you for the advice !!
commented Dec 22, 2015 by anonymous
Last question, 15 day premium processing period commences upon delivery of the petition to USCIS (UPS delivered on Dec 11th) or date when they sent email receipt? 15 day includes weekends and holidays?
commented Dec 22, 2015 by dan (23,600 points)
The 15 days premium processing clock will begin on the day they received the H1B Petition. However, H1B receipt notices may have a different date. The 15 days clock is counted as calendar days (Yes, including Holidays and weekends)
commented Dec 22, 2015 by anonymous
thank you for your suggestion. I informed my lawyer to contact service center to see why there is delay in email receipt. They said any how 15 day period ends dec 26 so they are 2 more business days which they could respond. lets wait till next week and contact them.
commented Dec 22, 2015 by dan (23,600 points)
If all went well, they should have received the physical receipt notice by now! It is possible sometimes they dont get the email receipt.

It may have been rejected for reasons I explained before and they may have resubmitted and you are not aware!  Please check the receipt date when you get it!
commented Jan 24, 2016 by H1B_Couple
My wife's H1B extension was received by the California USCIS on Aug 3 2015. It has been almost 6 months and there has been no approval nor an RFE. Should she ask the employer to convert it to premium now or is a response expected at the completion of 6 months? [Asking around, we have seen a couple of examples where it has taken 6 months for a H1b extension to be approved].
replied Jan 24, 2016 by dan (23,600 points)
It is taking over 6 months now. At this point, I guess you should wait rather than spending $1225.00. The H1B Employer or Attorney should call the USCIS and notify them of the delay.
replied Jan 26, 2016 by H1B_Couple
Thanks for your response!
commented Sep 19, 2016 by Kunal Vijan
If my employer has filed the extension in normal case can I upgrade to premium at any point of time by paying the fees?
replied Oct 2, 2016 by Nitshe
I got my rfe under h1 b cap. Is it possible to convert it into premium?
commented Dec 13, 2017 by Semmi
How do you determine the "H1B processing window" and whether your petition is outside of this "window?"

It is December 13, 2017 today, and the timetable for understanding Vermont Processing Center's processing time only says: until September 31, 2017, the center is still processing H1B petitions dated April 10, 2017.
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