USCIS will start accepting new H-1B petitions for Fiscal Year 2015 on April 1, 2014. The employment start date of these petitions is October 1, 2014. Historically, the number of petitions USCIS receives during the first week exceeds the number of available visas. Last year, USCIS received 124,000 H-1B petitions for 85,000 available visas. The demand this year is expected to be even greater. When more petitions than visas are received, USCIS conducts a computer-generated random selection process, or lottery, to select which petitions will be accepted for further processing.

Many people believe that they have a better chance of being selected in the lottery if they pay the additional $1,225.00 "premium processing" fee. The "premium processing fee" is an extra fee charged by USCIS which enables employers and their H-1B applicant worker to receive a faster decision on the petition. USCIS is suppose to make a decision within 15 business days. If the decision is not made within the 15 days, the petitioner will receive a refund of its $1,225.00 fee.. When a lottery is required, the 15 business day deadline is suspended.

In the lottery system, no special consideration is given to "premium processing cases". So paying the extra fee does not assure you that your petition will be selected for processing.

It is my opinion that the only reason to pay the premium processing fee is if the employer or the beneficiary absolutely must know for certain if the employee will be approved for the visa in order to make contingency plans. Regardless of whether the employer pays the additional $1,225.00 or not, the employee will not be able to take up the H-1B job before October 1, 2014.

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