The four U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) regional offices just issued updated processing times. As a general trend, processing times for employment-based immigrant visa cases and most non-immigrant visa cases have improved, significantly in some categories. The exceptions are H-1B petitions. For example, an H-1B extension filed at the Vermont Service Center would need to have been filed by June 5th to be processing at this time. This estimated five and a half month processing time can have a significant impact on foreign national employees. This is why it is imperative that employers file H-1B extensions as close to the six-months-from-current-expiration-date mark as possible. Otherwise, employees could encounter travel restrictions and have problems renewing driving privileges.
California Service Center
From an employment-based immigration perspective, the California Service Center (CSC) primarily processes non-immigrant petitions. CSC processes cases filed for individuals whose worksites are in one of the following states: AK, AZ, CA, CO, GU, HI, ID, IL, IN, IA, KS, MI, MN, MO, MT, NE, NV, ND, OH, OR, SD, UT, WA, WI, and WY.
The processing time for most I-129s, including TNs and E-1/2s, is 2 months. L-1s and H-2A/Bs are being processed within a 1-month timeframe, while O-1s are moving at a blistering 2-week pace.
H-1Bs are a different story. Instead of being listed within a monthly timeframe, they have specific dates listed. This means that CSC is beyond USCIS’s normal case processing goal. All H-1B petitions have a date of July 1, 2010, which means the average processing time is currently around four and a half months.
Interestingly, most applications for dependent spouses and children are at 2.5 months. However, if it is an H-4 dependent, the case should not be approved before the principal’s H-1B petition. Applications for employment authorization for L-2 dependent spouses currently have a processing time of 3 months.
Vermont Service Center
Under the bi-specialization initiative, the Vermont Service Center (VSC) is the other regional processing center that focuses on petitions for non-immigrant, employment-based cases. VSC processes cases filed for individuals whose worksites are in one of the following states: AL, AR, CT, DE, DC, FL, GA, KY, LA, ME, MD, MA, MS, NH, NJ, NM, NY, NC, OK, PA, PR, RI, SC, TN, TX, VT, VA, VI, and WV.
For employment-based cases, VSC’s processing times mostly mirror CSC’s processing times. The exceptions, again, are H-1B cases. New H-1Bs (visa to be issued abroad) and H-1B change of status cases list a date of July 10, 2010, while H-1B extensions list June 5, 2010. To reiterate, specific dates are listed where the case type is beyond USCIS’s normal processing goals.
Nebraska Service Center
For employment-based immigration cases, the Nebraska Service Center (NSC) processes I-140 petitions for immigrant workers and I-485 green card applications, as well as derivative work and travel authorization benefits (EAD work document and advance parole travel authorization). NSC processes cases filed for individuals whose worksites are in one of the following states: AK, AZ, CA, CO, GU, HI, ID, IL, IN, IA, KS, MI, MN, MO, MT, NE, NV, ND, OH, OR, SD, UT, WA, WI, and WY.
All I-140 petitions continue to have a processing time of 4 months. This includes petitions sponsoring Outstanding Researchers or Professors, those with Extraordinary Ability, and Multinational Managers.
I-485 applications for adjustment of status have dropped significantly to 4 months.* This is a 6-month improvement from the 10-month processing time in April of this year.
The processing times of applications for EAD work authorization and advance parole (AP) travel authorization remain at a troubling 3 months. The concern here is for those who filed I-485 applications in the summer of 2007 when all priority dates became current, and whose priority dates then retrogressed. Applications to extend EAD and AP can only be filed 4 months in advance. With a processing time of 3 months, any delay in filing could result in a gap of work and travel authorization.
Texas Service Center
Under the bi-specialization initiative, the Texas Service Center (TSC) is the other regional processing center that focuses on I-140 petitions for immigrant workers and I-485 green card applications, as well as derivative work and travel authorization benefits (EAD work document and advance parole travel authorization). TSC processes cases filed for individuals whose worksites/residences are in one of the following states: AL, AR, CT, DE, DC, FL, GA, KY, LA, ME, MD, MA, MS, NH, NJ, NM, NY, NC, OK, PA, PR, RI, SC, TN, TX, VT, VA, VI, and WV.
The processing times at TSC are the same as those listed above for NSC, except that I-485 applications for adjustment of status are taking just over 6 months.* This is not necessarily surprising, since this is virtually the same processing timeframe as earlier this year. What is noteworthy is that while TSC previously had the shorter processing time for employment-based I-485s, NSC is now the regional office with the greater efficiency on these cases.
To view the processing time of other case types not discussed here, please visit: https://egov.uscis.gov/cris/processTimesDisplayInit.do.
* Please note that the processing time for an I-485 only applies to applicants whose priority dates are current.