Q. What is H-1B status or an H-1B visa?
A. H-1B is a dual intent (immigrant/non-immigrant) status that allows employment. It is sought on behalf of international workers who are in specialty occupations and who will be hired to perform services of an exceptional nature requiring merit and ability. The status can be held for up to six years. The H-1B visa refers to the visa stamp in the passport. The stamp is necessary for entering the U.S. and must be obtained at an American consulate outside the country.
Q. How does a department apply for H-1B visa status for a new employee?
A. First, the department must initiate the application by contacting one of the H-1B advisors. The advisor will send an assessment form to be completed by the department and the candidate seeking the H-1B status. Further paperwork needed for the case will be explained at that time.
Q. Can a candidate apply without the department’s involvement?
A. No, the H-1B is employer driven, so the employer must petition U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services for the status with the employee as the beneficiary.
Q. The person we’ve just hired already has H-1B status at another university. Can this candidate work at UK on that authorization?
A. No, the H-1B status is employer specific, so a new petition must be filed.
Q. Can our UK H-1B beneficiary receive compensation for occasional speeches and lectures? A. No, the H-1B category allows employment incident to status only with an employer who has had an H-1B petition approved by USCIS on behalf of the beneficiary. Although H-1B nonimmigrants may have occasion to make occasional speeches and lectures at other institutions or at conferences, they may not receive compensation (e.g. wage or salary) for these activities. However, reasonable reimbursement (non-compensation) of travel expenses (transportation, hotel, lodging etc.) may be permitted by some employers based on institutional policies.
Q. Who pays the fees?
A. According to Federal Register: 20.C.F.R. 655.731 (c) (3) (iii) (C) (7) & (12), filing fees "connected to the performances of the H-1B program functions which are required to be performed by the employer" are considered to be "employer business expenses," thus, these are the responsibility of the department. Were an H-1B employee to pay these fees, the payment might be viewed under the regulations as an unauthorized deduction from the employee's salary.
Attorney fees (if applicable) are included in this regulation. The UK candidate must be reimbursed for any attorney fees associated with an H-1B application.
Q. What about the family members? Does the department pay for them?
A. No. Any fees related to the dependents' H-4 status is paid by the H-1B holder.
Q. How much H-1B time can we apply for?
A. The total duration allowed in H-1B status is six years. However, the initial application may not exceed three years.
Q. How long does it take to get the H-1B approval?
A. Processing times vary and ISSS recommends that departments allow 180 days for this entire process. Pre-filing preparation and processing required for ISSS is typically 4-6 weeks coupled by the USCIS processing time which is currently taking approximately 3-4 months. However, by requesting the USCIS Premium Processing service [$ 1,225] adjudication can be expected in approximately 2-3 weeks from the time the application is received by USCIS. It is not possible to expedite pre-filing preparation involving the U.S. Dept. of Labor and ISSS preparation.
Q. Does the department need an immigration attorney for the H-1B application process?
A. International Student & Scholar Services in the University of Kentucky International Center prepares H-1B applications for positions that require a master’s degree or Ph.D. An immigration attorney must be retained for positions that require only a bachelor’s degree. Visit the Eligible Positions section page for further information about this process.