H-1B Visa Basics
- The H-1B visa category applies to persons coming temporarily to the U.S. to perform services in a specialty occupation for a total of up to 6 years, in increments of no longer than 3 years.
- This visa category is frequently used for long-term employment such as teaching and research, including those positions on the tenure-track.
- The University of North Texas may sponsor an employee for H-1B authorization for a period of up to 3 years at a time for a total of 6 years.
- H-1B workers must be paid a salary that equals at least the U.S. Department of Labor-determined prevailing wage.
- To sponsor an H-1B worker, the University of North Texas must file petitions with the U.S. Department of Labor and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services indicating that the university will appoint and pay the individual the prevailing wage.
- If your department is interested in pursuing an H-1B petition on the behalf of an employee, please contact ISSS.
- Processing times are estimated at 6-8 months.
- Contact ISSS at least 6 months in advance of the intended start date.
To qualify for H-1B sponsorship, the position must be a full-time faculty, professional, or technical staff position (“specialty occupation”) for which attainment of a baccalaureate or higher degree is a minimum requirement. Part-time positions including teaching fellows, teaching assistants, adjunct faculty, and lecturers are not eligible. A review of the employee’s immigration history will also be conducted to fully determine if they meet the qualifications for an H-1B visa.
- The employee must be a professional or otherwise possess highly specialized theoretical and practical knowledge in his/her field. The employee must possess the specific knowledge for the position offered. The minimum entry-level requirement of a bachelor's or higher degree in a specific occupational specialty is required. The position offered must be one for which the employee possesses qualifications at least matching that minimum requirement.
- The position must require a person with highly specialized qualifications. U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services will scrutinize the job duties to determine whether the position requires a professional-level employee. The employer's stated requirement of a bachelor’s or higher-level degree will not suffice if the generally recognized requirements for that position are below a professional level.
The University must pay at least the prevailing wage or the actual wage (the rate paid to similarly situated employees), whichever is higher. The prevailing wage is based on external wage data, provided by U.S. Department of Labor, and takes into account the requirements for the position that the Department of Labor considers typical for the occupation. Many occupations, as defined by the Department of Labor, are very broad and allow for little flexibility. In some cases the prevailing wage is higher than the actual wage offered by the university. If the prevailing wage is higher than the actual wage, the wage offered to the employee by the university must be increased to meet or exceed the prevailing wage.
USCIS processing times vary anywhere from 6-8 months. International Student & Scholar Services can only provide an estimate of the timing for a petition based on the time of year and USCIS’ current processing times. We ask that departments initiate the H-1B process as early as 6 months before the desired start date, which is the earliest USCIS will accept an H-1B petition. In certain situations, expedited processing or “premium processing” is available for an additional $1,225. This guarantees a response from USCIS within 15 days. ISSS requires at least one month to process and submit an H-1B petition from the time the department and individual submits all required documentation.
Changes in Employment or Termination
Please consult with International Student and Scholar Services prior to changing an H-1B’s terms of employment, including changes to job duties or department.
Departments must contact International Student and Scholar Services immediately if an H-1B’s employment is terminated for any reason. If the department terminates employment, the department must pay the reasonable cost of return transportation to the H-1B’s last place of foreign residence. If visa status is not withdrawn, the department will continue to be responsible for paying the individual’s full salary and benefits.