Foreign National Employment H-1B Visa
The amount of time it takes to obtain an H-1B visa varies, but generally takes a minimum of 6 months. The employee may not begin working until U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has issued an approval notice*. Once approved, an employee is authorized to work for up to 3 years, and the visa can be renewed to a total maximum of 6 years. Individuals at a certain stage in the application for permanent residency may be eligible for an extension past the six-year maximum.
Current ESU employees who need to renew their H-1B are encouraged to start the process one year before the expiration of their current visa.
*If the prospective employee currently holds an H-1B visa with another employer, the employee may be able to begin work once USCIS has received the petition. This is known as portability, and it allows the employee to work up to 240 days while waiting for approval from USCIS.
To initiate the process, the Office of Human Resources needs to receive the Employee Information Form.pdf, and the Department Information Form.pdf. Once both forms have been received, the employee will be contacted by a human resources representative to coordinate the process. The employee may also want to use the H-1B checklist.pdf to prepare documents the attorney might need.
The H-1B application process involves the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) and United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
First, ESU must determine the prevailing wage for the position. The prevailing wage is the higher of either 1) the typical wage ESU pays to other employees in a similar position, or 2) a wage determined by DOL to be appropriate for the duties, education/experience required, and location of the position. ESU then submits a Labor Conditions Application stating the compensation and benefits for the visa holder will be the same as other similar positions, and that this employment will not negatively affect the working conditions or opportunities of U.S. workers.
Second, ESU files the I-129 petition with USCIS. If prospective employees are not currently in the U.S., they will need to apply for the visa at a U.S. consulate.
The H-1B is an employer-sponsored visa meaning the employer must submit the application on behalf of the prospective employee. Additionally, the employer is required to pay certain fees related to the application:
I-129 Petition Fee
$500 (only for new employee)
Dept. of Homeland Security
Dept. of Homeland Security
The employee is responsible for any additional costs including those associated with sponsoring a spouse or children (H-4 status). Immigration expenses that are not part of the H-1B application will also be the responsibility of the employee.
USCIS offers premium processing as a way to ensure a response to the I-129 within 15 calendar days. The cost is an additional $1,225. Premium processing does not guarantee approval of the application, it guarantees USCIS will approve, deny, or request more evidence. If USCIS does not respond within 15 days, the fee is refunded.
Given the complexity of immigration laws, green card applications are coordinated with the assistance of an immigration attorney. The university has established partnerships with two immigration attorneys in order to ensure quality service at a fair price. Please contact the Office of Human Resources for more information.
Change in Status/Position
Please consult with the Office of Human Resources prior to any changes in the H-1B employment such as job title, job duties, salary, or location. An amended H-1B may be required under circumstances when a material changes takes place. If an amended petition is required, it must be filed prior to the change in employment. If an H-1B employee resigns, or is dismissed, please inform Human Resources immediately.
If employment of an H-1B employee is terminated, or not renewed, before the end of the authorized H-1B period, the department is responsible for paying the reasonable costs of return transportation to the employee’s last place of foreign residence. This does not apply if the employee resigns.
The H-1B is dependent upon employment, and there is no grace period. If employment ends, the employee must:
- Have an H-1B petition filed with a new employer prior to the last day of employment at ESU, or
- File a change of status application prior to the last day of employment at ESU, or
- Depart the U.S. immediately
H-1B employees may not accept compensation, including honoraria, from any other entity besides ESU. Individuals in H-1B status invited to give a lecture, collaborate, conduct research, or present at another institution can receive reimbursement for reasonable living and transportation costs only.