For UAA Hiring Departments and Prospective H-1B Employees


Background and Eligibility

The H-1B is a non immigrant visa status for those individuals intending to work in the United States on a temporary basis. The individual must be a professional who has a minimum of a bachelor's degree and will be working in a "specialty occupation." A specialty occupation is defined as one that requires the theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge to fully perform the occupation, and the attainment of a bachelor's or a higher degree in the specific specialty as a minimum for entry into the occupation in the U.S.

In H-1B petitions, the UAA (employer) is the petitioner to the U.S. Citizenship and International Faculty and Staff Services (USCIS) and the foreign national (H-1B employee) is the beneficiary. All UAA requests to sponsor a foreign national in H-1B status must be submitted to the International Faculty and Staff Services HR Consultant, John C. Bhend. A foreign national may not self-petition. Departments are encouraged to contact the International Faculty and Staff Services HR Consultant as early in the hiring process as possible, preferably as soon as they are aware that an individual may require visa sponsorship. Since the H-1B is an employer-sponsored petition, it is appropriate for the hiring department, not the foreign national, to inform International Faculty and Staff Services of a wish to sponsor an individual in H-1B status.

The petition to USCIS represents a firm commitment by the employing department to fully fund the beneficiary for the entire period of time requested. USCIS will hold the employer liable for the H-1B worker's return transportation costs if the worker is dismissed from employment before the end of the period of authorized stay.

UA policy restricts the request of H1B to faculty and researchers in positions requiring the PhD or terminal degree, and to information technology specialists supporting academic computing and networking. If you are requesting a position that does not meet these requirements, please write a memo to the Provost requesting an exception to the policy including the rationale for employing a non-citizen in a staff or APT position. Include the individual's vita with your request.



Minimum requirements for an H-1B, Specialty Occupation visa

  1. 20 CFR 655.715 defines the specialty occupation as "an occupation that requires theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge, and attainment of a bachelor's or higher degree (or its equivalent) in the specific specialty as a minimum for entry into the occupation in the United States." and
  2. the proposed employee must meet the degree requirements of the position.
Employer, position and location

The H-1B category is very limited in that it is employer specific (cannot work for another employer if UAA is the designated employer), position specific (if the individual changes positions or responsibilities are significantly changed or receives a significant pay increase, a new application must be filed), and location specific (e.g., cannot move from Anchorage to Fairbanks as an assistant professor without filing a new application). H1B can be co-employed if initially requested (e.g., G.I and the ARSC and UAF)

Length of Stay

The maximum stay permitted in H-1B status is usually 6 years, and the maximum period that can be requested in a single H-1B petition is 3 years. This time limit is for all employment in H-1B status, regardless of employer. Note: H-1B periods requested should not exceed periods of funding availability.

Extensions

Extensions for up to a maximum of a combined total extension period of three years may be requested. USCIS recommends that the extension requests be filed 60 to 90 days prior to the current authorization expiration. If the extension request is timely filed, the beneficiary may continue employment while USCIS adjudicates the extension request even if the current period of stay expires. If, for some reason, the extension request is denied, the beneficiary must be terminated from employment as of the date the International Faculty and Staff Services receives the Notice of Action (Form I-797) from USCIS and notifies the department.

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) recognizes the "dual purpose" of the H-1B in that permanent residency ("green card") may be requested from H-1B status.

NOTE:  The H-1B status does NOT have a grace period.  Employment authorization ends on the last day of employment and the individual and related dependents must leave the U. S. immediately.  The only exception is a timely filed extension petition received by the service center before the authorization end date.

UAA Processing Times

To allow for sufficient processing time, hiring departments should submit the H-1B request to the International Faculty and Staff Services HR Consultant for a prospective H-1B employee 4 to 6 months in advance but no later than 60 days prior to the anticipated start of H-1B employment. If the beneficiary is overseas, additional time must be figured in to allow the beneficiary to obtain an H-1B visa in order to enter the U.S. in H-1B status.

USCIS Processing Times

USCIS Minimum processing time is nine weeks however the average time is 16 weeks/4 months to adjudicate the petition under regular processing. USCIS has a Premium Processing service, for an additional $1,000 paid by the employer, and will process the application in 15 days.  Note that premium processing does not guarantee approval - USCIS could also respond within 15 calendar days with a request for additional information.

Government Filing Fees

The federal filing fees associated with an H-1B petition are:
″    H-1B Petition Filing Fee $325 (paid by the employer)
″    Fraud Prevention and Detection Fee (for any new H-1B at UAA; must be paid by the employer) $500
″    Premium Processing Fee (optional) $1225

UAA Contracts with immigration attorneys

UAA contracts with a number of immigration attorneys who assist the employer in the filing of H-1B petitions.  The beneficiary should contact one of the attorneys on the UA General Counsel's approved list of immigration attorneys.  The attorney will contact the International Faculty and Staff Services HR Consultant for the necessary documentation for the H-1B petition.  If the beneficiary wishes to use another attorney they must submit an approval form to General Counsel.  The beneficiary should be advised that this will delay the petition process.

Approved immigration attorney list

 

Personal information from the proposed employee (beneficiary):
  • Copy of passport (all pages) and I-94 both sides (if individual is currently in the U.S.)
  • Copy of all I-20s, IAP-66s or DS-2019s (both sides) if the individual is currently or has been in U.S. in F-1 or J-1 visa category. Copy of any employment authorization card(s) (both sides).
  • Copy of any H or L authorizations, including current H-1B if in U.S. as a temporary employee with a different employer or if this is a request for extension of current UAA employee.
  • Copy of current vita/resume
  • Certified copy of transcript, certified translation into English if not originally in English.
  • Copy of diplomas with a certified translation into English if not originally in English.
  • If the individual has applied for permanent residency (green card), include copies of all immigration form(s) I-797, Notice of Action, that pertain to the permanent residency application.
Dependents
  • If beneficiary and dependents are not in the U.S., when the beneficiary goes to the U.S. Embassy/Consulate for the interview, the spouse and children need to go with the beneficiary. They must take documents proving relationship (marriage certificate, birth certificates, etc.
  • If the beneficiary and dependents are in the U.S. and are requesting a change of visa category or change of employer, or extension, the Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status. The Form I-539 applicant (first person named) is the dependent, not the individual that UAA is filing the H petition for.

Who Should Pay:

  • The $325 petition filing fee is paid by either the hiring department.
  • The $500 anti-fraud fee is be paid by the hiring department. The antifraud fee is a fee that accompanies any initial H-1B petition at UAA and is not needed for extensions or for changes within employment at UAA.
  • The $1225 premium processing fee will be paid by the hiring department in situations where it represents a business expense (i.e., H-1B status is necessary in order to expedite the petition to obtain/extend work authorization by a certain date based on the employers' requested start date).
  • The hiring department will cover the contracted attorney fees for petitioning on behalf of UAA and the beneficiary.  The attorney fees can range from a $2000 to $4000.

Please contact the International Faculty and Staff Services HR Consultant if you have questions or need additional information.