For a fee, some visa applications can be processed in a few short weeks. For example, an H-1B visa may be granted within fifteen days (as opposed to three months or more) under the Premium Processing Service, which requires an immigrant to pay $1,000 in addition to the normal government fee for obtaining a visa. The Premium Processing Service’s fifteen day time frame requires that all of the information necessary for normal visa processing is provided.
While work-related visas can often be rushed, requesting expedition for other visas can delay processing. Therefore, cases are generally expedited only in limited circumstances, such as:
- INS error;
- Extreme emergency;
- Humanitarian concerns; or
- Existing visa has been damaged, lost, or stolen.
Applicants from certain countries are eligible to use electronic visa forms to speed up the application process. Applicants complete an online form, print it, and send it to the Consulate General. The online form contains a special barcode, which is easier to register and which ultimately quickens the process.
Even if you are applying for a visa which can be expedited, there is always the possibility that a delay may occur. Therefore, it is in your best interest to apply early and to include everything that is requested.
In addition to discussing your personal situation with a lawyer, you can determine the status of your case online with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigrations Services’ National Customer Service Center.
An immigration attorney who is familiar with visa processing will be able to help you prepare your application and answer the questions you may have regarding visa wait time and various immigration procedures.