If you have been offered employment at the University of New Hampshire and the position qualifies for H-1B status, the OISS will prepare and submit an application to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) on your behalf. The following information will provide you with an overview of H-1B non-immigrant status and application process.
Description and Purpose
The H-1B visa is widely used in the U.S. for the temporary employment of foreign nationals. This status is used for the employment of foreign nationals in "specialty occupations," defined as those which “require the theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge requiring the attainment of a bachelor's or higher degree as a minimum for entry into the occupation.”
Length of Stay
H-1B non-immigrant status provides foreign nationals with permission to be employed in the United States for a specific period of time, for a specific employer, with a specific title, at a specific salary, at a specific location. The maximum period of stay for H-1B workers is six years, available in increments of up to three years. At the end of the six-year period, the foreign employee must either:
- depart the U.S.;
- apply to change his/her status to another non-immigrant classification; or
- obtain a green card to become a U.S. permanent resident.
Information and Documentation Required
In order to prepare and file an H-1B petition on your behalf, you must submit the following documentation to the International Scholar Advisor:
- A fully completed H-1B Application Packet including Department Form A & Scholar Form B;
- A copy of your most recent C.V. (curriculum vitae) or resume;
- A copy of the diploma for the highest degree you have attained, or (if not yet available) an official transcript which documents the awarding of the degree. (If your degree is not from a college or university in the U.S., it might be necessary to submit your education credentials with a fee to a recognized credentialing agency for their formal evaluation.)
- Copies of passports for yourself and any family members. Send only copies of the following pages: biographic information page showing your name, date of birth, picture, etc.; page containing the passport expiration date; pages with any U.S. visas.
- If you are in the U.S., send copies of your most recent I-94 Form (Record of Arrival and Departure).
- If you have been in the U.S. previously as a student or exchange visitor, send copies of all DS-2019 and I-20 forms issued to you.
- If applicable (mostly for those previously in H-1B status), copies of all Forms I-797 (Notices of Action) ever issued to you.
All documents must be in English or accompanied by a certified translation.
Time Required for Processing
Obtaining approval of an H-1B petition may require up to 4 to 6 months. Premium Processing is available if you or your employing department is willing to pay an additional $1,225 fee to the USCIS. Although the OISS will do its best to accommodate your needs, it is not within our power to circumvent the system or shortcut federal regulations. Therefore, it is imperative that you plan accordingly and submit the required information as quickly as possible.
The U.S. government has set certain standards for use of H-1B non-immigrant classification. The foreign employee must:
- have a U.S. degree or a foreign degree equivalent to the U.S. degree;
- have education, specialized training, or experience that is equivalent to training acquired by attainment of a bachelor’s (or higher) degree;
- hold full state licensure, registration, or certification which authorizes practice in the occupation (if required by state or federal law).
J-1 (Exchange Visitor) Non-Immigrant Classification and the Two-Year Home Residence Requirement
If you currently hold J-1 status (or have held it in the past) it is possible that you may be subject to a "Two-Year Home Physical Presence Requirement." If you are subject to this requirement, you will not be able to obtain H-1B status until you:
- return to your home country for two years, or
- obtain a waiver of the requirement from the U.S. Federal Government
In general, this requirement applies to those:
- whose exchange visitor program was financed by the U.S. Government and/or their home government; or
- whose skills are in short supply in their home country as determined by that government; or
- whose purpose in coming to the United States was to receive graduate medical education or training.
If you are subject to the requirement, this might be noted on Form DS-2019 and/or your J-1 visa.
If you are subject to this requirement, you will need to apply for a waiver from the U.S. Department of State. Grounds for obtaining a waiver are limited, and even when successful, can take six months to a year to obtain.
If you are (or think you might be) subject to this requirement, notify the OISS immediately! We will review your documents and provide you with information about the steps you must take to apply for a waiver. Remember, this must be done before we can file and H-1B petition on your behalf!