The H-1B is a non-immigrant visa category provided for in the Immigration & Nationality Act, section 101(a)(15)(H) that allows American companies and universities to temporarily employ foreign workers who have the equivalent to a US Bachelor’s Degree. H-1B employees are employed temporarily in a job category that is considered by the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services to be a “specialty occupation”. A specialty occupation is one that requires theoretical and practical application of a body of specialized knowledge along with at least a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent. For example, architecture, engineering, mathematics, physical sciences, social sciences, medicine and health, education, business specialties, accounting, law, theology, and the arts may be considered to be specialty occupations.
At Colorado State University, H-1B workers are typically postdoctoral researchers or tenure track faculty. Consult with ISSS if you have questions. Departments may consider H-1B status for a scholar if:
- The scholar will be employed by the University
- The appointment will be long term or possibly permanent
- If the scholar would otherwise be subject to the 2 year home residence requirement as a J-1 scholar.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced a suspension of Premium Processing service for H-1B petitions effective April 3. Employers have historically relied on Premium Processing to enable international employees to start work within a few months or sometimes even within a matter of weeks. It is not clear exactly when Premium Processing may resume, but the suspension could last six months or more.
Given the temporary suspension of premium processing, hiring units need to be aware of the following implications:
- Current processing times for non-premium H-1B cases is 7-8 months. Processing times may improve over the next few months as USCIS works through its current backlog.
- New employees outside the U.S. should plan on waiting many months for an H-1B petition to be approved. After approval, new employees will still have to apply for a visa to enter the U.S. and start work.
- A unit intending to sponsor an H-1B for an individual already in the U.S. in another status such as J-1 or F-1 should complete an H-1B request many months prior to the date the individual’s current status and work authorization ends.
- Individuals in the U.S. already working in H-1B status at another institution may “port” their current H-1B to CSU. In this situation, the employee can begin work at CSU as soon as CSU files an H-1B petition and the start date on the petition is reached. New employees will not have to wait until the petition is approved to begin work, but plans for international travel may be affected.
- Employees already working at CSU in H-1B status that need an H-1B extension are encouraged to start the process many months in advance. Even though an individual in H-1B status can continue working for CSU while an extension is pending up to 240 days, plans for international travel and the ability to renew a driver’s license may be affected.
Please contact Paul Collier in ISSS with any case-specific questions you may have.