The Catholic University of America

H-1B Temporary Worker in Specialty Occupation

This information is intended to provide basic, general information only and should not be used as a substitute for professional advice from qualified immigration specialists.

University’s Policy May Be Changed at any time Without Prior Notice

H-1B Temporary Workers in Specialty Occupations

H-1B temporary worker visa status is used for employment in specialty occupations. A specialty occupation is defined as a position that requires at least a Bachelor's degree in a specific field and theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge in order to perform the job duties. Jobs that require any Bachelor's degree do not qualify.

The H-1B Visa is employer and- job-specific and requires an employer to file applications with the U.S. Department of Labor (DoL) and U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) in order to sponsor an employee. This visa allows for an individual to work for up to six years.

The entire H-1 process can take three - eleven months to complete. Therefore, please allow ample processing time.

University H-1B Sponsorship Requirements

The Catholic University of America sponsors certain faculty, researchers, and specialized staff for H-1B Temporary Worker status. The following criteria must be met for an individual to be sponsored:

·  The position must require at least a Bachelor's degree in a specific field and specialized training or knowledge, and the employee must meet the minimum requirement at the time of application. Positions which require any Bachelor's degree or no degree at all do not qualify.

·  The position cannot be a temporary position. The benefits offered to employees in H-1B status must be the same as those offered to other employees in similar positions.

·  The position must be full-time. 

·  The Department must cover all USCIS fees relating to the application. Exception: If the request for premium processing is for the employee's personal reasons, the premium processing fee can be paid by the employee.

·  The approval of the Department Chair, supervisor and Department Administrator must be obtained. Although general information may be discussed beforehand, the Office of International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) will not initiate Catholic University-sponsored H-1B applications until approval is received from the Department.

·  The Department agrees to pay the reasonable costs of the foreign national’s return transportation to their home country should the Department terminate their employment before the expiration of the employment approved by USCIS.

Please note that Human Resources and/or Faculty policies with regard to employment apply, and nothing in these requirements imply otherwise.

All paperwork related to Catholic University-sponsored H-1B petitions must be filed by ISSS to ensure accuracy and consistency of University information that is sent to the U.S. government. Use of outside attorneys is not permitted unless approved by ISSS.

Duration

  • An individual can hold H-1B status for a maximum of 6 years. However, USCIS cannot grant H-1B status for more than 3 years at a time.
  • Extensions beyond the 6th year may potentially be possible if a permanent residency application has been filed and meets certain conditions.

 

The Required Wage

  • Employers sponsoring individuals in H-1B status are required to pay at the prevailing wage level as defined by U.S. Department of Labor. This wage will vary depending upon occupation, level of responsibility and the relative wages paid by the University and the wages paid by area employers for the position. The University must do two wage comparisons.
  • Once these wage levels are determined, The University is required to pay the higher of either the actual wage or the prevailing wage. The University must pay at least 100% of the prevailing wage. 

 

Sponsorship Process 

There are three steps in applying for H-1B temporary worker status.

STEP 1

q Prevailing Wage Determination - ISSS files a request with DoL to determine the prevailing wage for the position. The salary offered must meet this prevailing wage to qualify for H-1B sponsorship. If the wage offered does not meet the prevailing wage, ISSS will be in touch with the Department to discuss options.

STEP 2

q Labor Condition Application - ISSS files a Labor Condition Application with DoL certifying the working conditions. Processing takes 7 business days. 

STEP 3

q USCIS - ISSS files an I-129 petition with USCIS. Regular processing at USCIS is taking 8.5 to 11 months (January 2019). USCIS often experiences delays and processing can take more than 6 months, even though an employer can only file the H-1B petition 6 months before the requested start date. Premium processing shortens this processing to 15 days for an extra fee. USCIS has become increasingly strict with its interpretation of specialty occupation as it relates to staff H-1B petitions. A Request for Evidence from USCIS will delay processing, so please allow plenty of time for processing or consider using Premium Processing. 

 

Initiating Sponsorship Procedures

STEP 1

q Department submits H-1B Request formExport Controls Addendum & Position    

 Description to ISSS

STEP 2

q ISSS sends online questionnaires to employee

STEP 3

q Employee Completes and Submits Questionnaires  

Employee will receive an email with a link to online questionnaire(s) and/or an attached pdf. It is important that the employee answer each question to the best of his/her ability and provide as much detail as possible to ensure efficient processing of the case.

STEP 4

q Employee Sends Supporting Documents – Compiles legible copies of all required Supporting Documents. Employee should include certified and/or notarized translations of any documents not in English. Employee keeps originals for his/her own records. 

Required documents are:

o Copy of resume

o Copy of diplomas. If the degree you are using to qualify for the job is not a U.S. degree, we 

    recommend that you obtain and submit a credential evaluation.

o Official academic transcripts. We recommend two sets of official transcripts and one copy. 

o Copy of certified translation of all degrees/diplomas/transcripts (if not in English)

o Copy of passport biographic pages

o Copy of most recent visa

o Copies of ALL Forms I-797 Approval Notices, if applicable

o Copies of ALL Forms I-20, if applicable

o Copies of ALL Forms DS-2019, if applicable

o If employee previously held J-1 status and were subject to the two-

    year home residency requirement, please provide documentation evidencing

    fulfillment or waiver of the requirement

o Copies of ALL Employment Authorization Cards, if applicable

o Copies of 3 most recent paystubs from current employer (Please wait and send these once we have 

    received the signed documents. We will request the paystubs from you as part of STEP 5)

*If employee will be filing a dependent application, please include the following additional documentation:

o Copy of Marriage Certificate, if applicable

o Copy of Birth Certificate of each child obtaining visa

o Copies of all I-797 Approval Notices, Forms I-20s, Forms DS-2019s, etc. for each dependent

o Copy of passport biographic pages for each dependent

o Copy of most recent visa for each dependent

STEP 5

q Wait for ISSS to Review Questionnaire and Documents and Complete Additional Steps for the Petition – ISSS may contact the employee for additional information during this time. This is an extremely detailed process. It’s important to have all necessary information as required by USCIS to ensure the petition has the best possible chance of being approved.

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STEP 6

q ISSS determines prevailing wage requirements for H-1B

o Comparison of Prevailing and Actual wages

o ISSS may submit a prevailing wage request to the Department of labor (10-12 weeks)

o If no wage issues, ISSS prepares and sends posting notice to department

STEP 7

q The department and ISSS prepare petition

o Department requests checks for fees

o Department posts notices

o ISSS submits Labor Condition Application to the Department of Labor

o ISSS drafts departmental support letter. Sends to department.

o ISSS prepares physical petition

o Once LCA certified by DOL, ISSS obtains authorized signatures (Provost or VP Finance)

o Department submits checks, support letters, and LCA’s with Acknowledgements of postings.

STEP 8

q ISSS Will send Forms/Documents to Appropriate Departments for Signature (If the employee has Have Dependents, Forms Will Be Included for Their Signature) – The petition needs to include original signatures. ISSS will provide specific Instructions regarding this step.

STEP 9

q ISSS Will Conduct a Final Review of the Petition Once All Original Signed Forms Are Received and File the Petition– The petition will be sent via FedEx to the appropriate USCIS service center.

STEP 10

q USCIS Will Issue a Receipt Notice to ISSS – Upon receipt of this notice, ISSS will notify the employee via email.

STEP 11

q USCIS Will Issue a Case Determination or an RFE Notice to ISSS – Upon receipt of this notice, ISSS will notify the employee via email and if necessary discuss the next steps/options.

STEP 12

q If USCIS Issues an Approval Notice ISSS Will Email the employee to Confirm the Address to Mail Original Approval Notice  It’s important that the employee read the email and letter we provide, these contain information on international travel.

 

Costs

A. Filing Fees

Type of Petition

Filing Fee

Basic H-1B filing Fee (I-129) (all H petitions must submit this fee)

$460

Anti-Fraud fee (must be paid only for initial H-1B petitions)

$500

Premium Processing (optional-guarantees a response –not a decision- within 15 days)

$1410

  • The basic H-1B filing fee and Anti-Fraud fee must be paid by the sponsoring department/school.
  • The Premium processing fee can fall on either the employee or the department/school.  ISSS must be informed of who will be responsible for this payment.

B. Legal Fees

Should outside counsel be used for any reason during the H-1B process those legal fees can fall on the sponsoring department/school.

Timeframe of Application Process

  • The petition can be filed no earlier than 6 months before requested start date on H-1B petition.
  •  After receiving completed request forms and supporting documentation, +/- 30 days for ISSS processing.
  • USCIS processing times for applications*
    • 9 to 11 months via regular processing (as of February 2019)
    • Optional Premium Processing: Guarantees a response (not a decision) within 15 calendar days.
  • Visa Processing times if applicable: Varies from U.S. Consulate to Consulate

 

Maintaining H-1B Status

Guidance to H-1B employees, click link.

In order to maintain valid H-1B status, temporary workers must:

  • Maintain a valid passport at all times, unless exempt from passport requirements.
  • Work only for the employer(s) sponsoring the approved H-1B petition. 
  • File Form AR-11 online at https://www.uscis.gov/ar-11 within 10 days of any address change.
  • Report a change of address to ISSS Office within 10 days of the change.
  • Notify their International Scholar Advisor whenever there is any change in their work situation (change in title, duties, department, hours, if they are leaving the job, etc.) 
  • There is no grace period for employees in H-1B status after the authorized period of stay ends unless specifically authorized by the DHS at the port-of-entry.

 

Extensions

  • Apply for an extension before the current H-1B status expires (in order to continue working at Catholic). Processing usually takes several months, so allow ample time.  The application must be filed with the USCIS prior to the expiration date on the I-797 Notice of Action Form in order for the employee to be able to continue working without interruption.
  • If the individual is in Catholic-sponsored H-1B status and an extension is filed, then he or she can continue working for The University for an additional 240 days beyond their current H expiration while USCIS adjudicates the extension. This is known as the 240 day rule.

 

 

Change of Employer 

  • H-1B temporary workers may transfer their status to a different employer.  Before the employee starts work with the new employer, the new employer must first file an I-129 petition with the USCIS and confirm that it has been received.
  • USCIS often requests copies of recent pay stubs for transfer applications, so it is important that employees continue working for their current employer until at least the receipt notice has been received.
  • Under USCIS portability provisions, an employee can begin on the date the petition is received by USCIS or the requested employment start date of the petition, whichever is later. We require either the hard copy receipt notice for regular processing or the email receipt for premium processing so that we have confirmation that USCIS has accepted the petition.