H1-B

GENERAL H-1B FILING INFORMATION

The University occasionally uses an immigration status called H-1B (Temporary Workers) to hire foreign faculty and staff members.  This is a temporary immigration status, which can be granted for three years up to a total of six years.   Medical and dental residents may also apply for this status.   H-1B status is not related to Permanent Residence status (green card).

H-1B applications are prepared by the Office of International Student Services once a request is received by a sponsoring department.  There are many steps involved in preparing an H-1B application package, including interfacing with the District of Columbia Employment Services to acquire a Prevailing Wage and applying to the Department of Labor for a Labor Condition Application (LCA).  It can take up to two weeks to receive a response from the D.C. Employment Services.  It takes approximately (10) ten days to receive the LCA.  To facilitate the process, the office requires applications to be submitted about eight weeks before the intended date of employment.  We recommend six weeks for extensions. 

Sponsoring departments and beneficiaries must ensure that the application package is complete.  All of the information requested is required to complete the application.  We cannot send an incomplete package to the immigration services.  This will delay the approval time.  Bounced checks will result in the automatic denial of the application.

Once the package is ready to be mailed, the department or the beneficiary will be contacted to retrieve the completed package for mailing.  Completed packages are mailed to the California Service Center.   Delays are normal and should be expected.

Beneficiaries may choose to use the premium processing option to expedite approvals.

It can take up to eight months to receive an approval submitted without using the premium processing option.  There are two options available to check on the status of an application.  They are:

·        Calling the Customer Service telephone line.  Beneficiaries are strongly advised not to call that number.  A call from a beneficiary can result in the cancellation of the application.

·        Visit the Department of Citizenship and Immigration Service online service at www.uscis.gov  using the case number.  The case number will appear on a receipt or on the back of a cancelled check.

·        The Office of International Student Services does not play any role in the processing of applications to control the amount of time it takes to approve an application.

H-1B visa status is for person in a “specialty occupation.” This requires theoretical and practical application of highly specialized knowledge.

            Beneficiaries may initially petition for up to 3 years of employment and later request extensions for a maximum of 3 additional years.  H-1B is granted for a total of six (6) years.

If for any reason the beneficiary is dismissed from employment before the end of the authorized period of H-1 employment, the department will be responsible for paying the reasonable costs of return transportation to the employee’s home country.

            H-1B petitions require a great deal of paperwork from the department and the Office of International Student Service (OISS).  We recommend that the process should start about eight (8) weeks before the intended start date of employment. The processing time at the United States Citizenship and Immigration  Services  (USCIS) is at least 30 to 60 days for approval, with some applications taking up to eight months..

            The Department of Labor must approve a Labor Condition Application form (completed by ISS) before the INS will approve the H-1B petition.

            The H-1B applicant cannot begin employment until the H-1B petition for Howard University (HU) has been approved by USCIS or after a receipt has been received if the beneficiary was previously in H-1B status.

            Only OISS is authorized to prepare and sign the H-1B petition form I-129, and supporting documents for HU.

H-1B APPLICANTS OUTSIDE THE U.S.:

            If the prospective employee is abroad, he/she will also need time to apply for and H-1B visa at an American Embassy or Consulate in order to enter the U.S. This can be done ONLY after the USCIS has approved the H-1B petition filed by HU.

H-1B APPLICANTS ALREADY IN THE U.S.:

            H-1B visa status is employer specific.   H-1B status is not transferable.  Even if the prospective employee is currently in the U.S. in H-1 status, he/she must have a new H-1 petition approved by the USCIS for employment at Howard University.

            If the H-1 applicant is in the U.S. in J-1 status, it may take several months to determine if he/she is eligible to change status especially if he/she is subject to the 2-year home residence requirement.

 The immigration Service has sole responsibility for processing and approving applications.

Recent changes in immigration regulations have greatly complicated the H-1B petition process.  The University will have to comply with the new regulations if we are to continue to use this very useful immigration status.  Although this office handles most of the paperwork for H-1B, we are required to obtain and keep on file information for each person we hire under this immigration status.  Below is a description of the categories on which we must maintain records.

 

1.      PREVAILING WAGE.  For each position (instructor, assistant professor, hospital pharmacist, researcher, medical doctors, dentists, etc.) we must determine the prevailing wage in the Washington metropolitan area.  If the negotiated wage as the prevailing wage.   For most positions, we may use the services of the D.C. Department of Employment Services (D.O.E.S.), which establishes the prevailing wages we can use as our standard.  We may use other ways to determine the prevailing wage, such as published wage surveys, your own wage surveys, etc., as long as we can document them.

2.      ACTUAL WAGE.  Within your department or office, you must indicate the actual salaries you are paying to individuals with similar experience and qualifications as the prospective H-1B employee.  A questionnaire is attached to help you document this.

3.      OFFERED WAGE.  After determining the prevailing and actual wages, you must agree to pay the higher of the two to the prospective H-1B person.

4.      DOCUMENTATION.  We must keep documentation on file indicating the method used to determine the actual wage and the prevailing wage.  The University must provide this documentation to the U.S. Department of Labor in case the offered wage is challenged by a University employee.  Keeping a copy of the questionnaire mentioned in item (2) above will fulfill this requirement, along with documentation from the D.O.E.S. concerning the prevailing wage or a copy of a negotiated union contract.

5.      RETURN TRANSPORTATION.  You must agree to pay the H-1B employee's return transportation abroad if you should dismiss the person before the expiration date of the H-1B document.  While it is unlikely that you would ever have to meet this condition, the new regulations require that we agree to do so.

6.      POSTING NOTICE.  The University must post two notices concerning the salary and position in question in conspicuous locations.  We will provide these notices.   One notice is usually posted on the office's notice board and the other on the notice board in your department.

7.      NOTICE TO UNION.  If there is a union involved, we do not have to post a notice; though we must notify the union representative that we intend to file an H-1B petition to fill a vacancy with a foreign national.

8.      PAYROLL RECORDS.  The Payroll office must keep a record, for a certain period of time, of all payments to any employee with H-1B immigration status and all other employees with similar qualifications.

If you have current employees with H-1B status, you will have to go through this process in order to renew or extend your employment at the University.  We will also have to update the prevailing wage every 24 months and adjust the employee's salary, if necessary.

The Office of International Student Services will guide you through the immigration process so that you may continue to hire employees under H-1B status.  You will need to provide the information described above, however, and agree to provide and/or maintain documentation as required.

There are two parts to the process: an H-1 petition signed by a representative of the Office of International Student services, and your own application for a change or extension of immigration status.