H-1B Occupation

H-1B Employee ChecklistScience LabThe H-1B non-immigrant visa is an employment-based visa category intended for temporary employment in the US for positions that are considered “Specialty Occupation;” that is, the job description must require a Bachelor’s degree at a minimum and the employee must meet the minimum requirements for the job position. 

Since a degree is required for the position, the US Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) now requires that degrees conferred by institutions outside of the United States be evaluated by a third-party service. The following are two commonly used professional evaluation services,  which are members of the National Association of Credential Evaluation Services (NACES):

Additional NACES members can be viewed at: http://naces.org

In addition, a Prevailing Wage Determination will be required to prove that the position salary meets or exceeds the minimum salary required for the position, as determined by the Department of Labor.

H-1B visa status may be requested for up to three years at a time, and H-1B status may be held for no longer than six years, continuously.

Application Procedure

The application must be filed by the employer.  In order to initiate an H-1B visa request, the sponsoring department may compile the application packet and submit to OISS. The forms you need are:

Application Process: What to Expect

Please note that the H-1B processing timeline is an estimate; OISS recommends initiating the H-1B application/extension six months before the proposed begin date in order to provide for the various processing times involved.

  1. Once the sponsoring department submits the application packet, OISS will request a Prevailing Wage determination from the Department of Labor (requires 30-60 days), file a Labor Condition Application with Department of labor (7-10 days), prepare I-129 documents, and compile the petition for submission to USCIS.
  2. Once submitted to USCIS, the case is reviewed and adjudicated; OISS notifies the Department of approval. USCIS processing time is 2-3 months without Premium Processing; this processing time can be reduced to 15 calendar days by paying the optional $1225 Premium Processing fee (in addition to the required USCIS Filing fee and Anti-Fraud fee.

    Please note, effective October 1, 2018, the USCIS I-129 filing fee is $460.The Anti-Fraud fee will remain $500, and Premium Processing has increased to $1410. (If an I-539 dependent petition is being included, the $290 fee will increase to $370)

Options for Changing to H-1B status
There are two options for changing to H-1B status: (1)  in-country change of status, or (2) consular processing.

  1. In-country Changes of Status
    When the applicant is changing from another visa status (J-1 or F-1 for example) to H-1B, s/he
    may not begin employment until the I-797 approval notice has been issued by USCIS and
    presented to the employer for I-9 completion. Additionally, the applicant may not travel outside
    the U.S. until the H-1B request is approved, or the H-1B petition will be considered abandoned.
  2. Consular Processing
    Requesting the H-1B through Consular Processing means that the employee obtains the new
    H-1B visa from the U.S. Consulate abroad, and then enters the U.S. in the H-1B status. Leaving
    the U.S. while the Consular Processing request is pending does not abandon the request. In fact, Consular Processing is not available within the U.S.

Extension of Status/Transfer
Applications for H-1B extensions and H-1B transfers from another employer have the same application requirements as for new H-1B petitions.  As long as the extension petition is filed with USCIS before the current H-1 end date, the employee may continue to work in H-1B status for up to 240 days while the petition is pending with USCIS.

Travel and Re-Entry

When traveling outside the US, H-1B employees will need a valid H-1B visa stamp in their passport for re-entry.  Those who changed their immigration status to H-1B since entering the United States and have not yet traveled abroad will need to apply for an H-1B visa stamp in their passport, as will those who have an expired H-1B visa in their passport. 

H-1B visa applicants will need the following: original I-797 H-1 Approval Notice, copy of I-129 petition, copy of Labor Condition Application, and current Employment Verification Letter, provided by the Department.

Note: As with all visas, an H-1B entry visa may only be obtained from a US Consular Office outside of the United States.  Please refer to detailed instructions from US Dept of State here.