Hosting H-1B Employees

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Hosting H-1B Employees

When hiring foreign nationals to work for the University of Delaware, it is strongly recommended departments contact CGPS as early in the process as possible.

If you might be sponsoring a foreign national for H-1B status, to assure there will be no delay or interruption in employment, contact CGPS at least six (6) months prior to the desired start date or expiration of the foreign national’s current immigration status.

Please note that immigration regulations are subject to change and can vary depending on the particular case or situation. Always consult CGPS for the most accurate information. CGPS is here to help you and your employees navigate the immigration process.

The H-1B visa category is for foreign nationals who are offered temporary employment in the United States to render services in "specialty occupations."

  • Employment Offer: An offer of employment is required from an U.S. employer who must file the petition, pay the foreign national regularly, and supervise the foreign national’s work. A foreign national cannot self-petition for an H-1B visa.

  • Temporary: H-1B employment must be temporary, even if the foreign national is coming to the university to fill a permanent position.

  • Specialty Occupation: The foreign national must be coming to the U.S. to work in an occupation that requires (a) theoretical and practical application of a body of specialized knowledge, and (b) a bachelor’s or higher degree in a field related to the occupation.

H-1B status is employer and position specific. Employment is limited to work for the sponsoring H-1B employer and work in the position specified in the H-1B petition. If the University of Delaware is filing an H-1B petition for a foreign national, unless and until a different employer files an H-1B petition, that employee may only work for the University and only in the position specified in the H-1B petition. If the employment changes in any material way (such as a significant change in job duties, location, full or part-time, etc.), CGPS must be informed. CGPS will review the change and determine whether the change requires an amendment to the H-1B petition. If an amendment is required, it must be filed before the employment change takes effect.

  • Example 1: Foreign national working for the University of Delaware as a post-doc in the Department of Biological Sciences is offered a post-doc position at a different university. New employer must file a new H-1B petition.

  • Example 2: Foreign national working for the University of Delaware as a Research Associate II in the College of Engineering is offered a position as a Lab Manager in the same department. Material change in employment–new position. Contact CGPS before change takes effect.

In order to file an H-1B, the University must offer the foreign national a wage equal to or exceeding the required wage for the position. For more information about the required wage, including how CGPS arrives at the actual wage, prevailing wage, and required wage, please see the "Required Wage" section below.

Many potential H-1B employees have previously been in the U.S. in J exchange visitor status and may be subject to the 212 (e) 2-year home-country residency requirement. Prior J status holders who are subject to this requirement are not eligible for H-1B status until they fulfil the requirement or obtain a waiver. CGPS can work with the foreign national to navigate this requirement before the H-1B petition is filed.

  • Note regarding current J Status holders: Current J status holders who plan to seek a waiver must contact the CGPS in regards to their visa status before beginning the waiver process, as it could impact their eligibility for J-status extensions.

The H-1B petition process is time consuming. CGPS needs time to review the H-1B request, make sure all required documents have been provided, prepare the required forms, and submit the forms to various government agencies. Government processing is also time consuming. For example, it can take 14-16 weeks for the Department of Labor to determine a prevailing wage, and it can take 6-8 months for USCIS to adjudicate an H-1B petition.

For this reason, we HIGHLY recommend that departments submit the H-1B questionnaire (found on the Forms page), whether a new hire or an extension, at least six months prior to the desired start date or expiration of the current status to assure there will be no delay in the start date or interruption in employment.

Example: If the department wants a new faculty member to start work in time for classes in August, the department must send a completed questionnaire to CGPS in by mid-February.

Review this diagram of the H-1B process with a timeline.

The H-1B Petition Process

The department notifies CGPS of their intent to hire a foreign national and sponsor them for H-1B status. The hiring department compiles information about the position and the foreign national and submits a completed H-1B questionnaire with supporting documents to CGPS.
If the position is not subject to the faculty Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) CGPS prepares and submits a Prevailing Wage Request to the Department of Labor. - It can take up to 16 weeks to receive a response from the government.
CGPS prepares a Labor Condition Application (LCA), informs required parties the LCA is being submitted, and submits the LCA to the Department of Labor. Notification requirements: - For non-CBA subject positions, CGPS provides the department with a "Notice of Filing" which must be posted in two conspicuous locations for ten business days. Please see information on “Notice of Filing” below. - For CBA subject positions, CGPS notifies the CBA representative that a LCA is being filed. Once the required notification is made, CGPS submits the LCA. LCAs are usually certified within 7-10 days.
CGPS prepares and submits an H-1B petition (Form I-129 and supporting documents) to USCIS. - For regular processing, approval may take up to eight months.
CGPS receives the approval notice which provides the dates of authorized H-1B employment.
If the foreign national is overseas, they apply for a visa at a U.S. Consulate and enter the U.S. after the visa is granted.
The foreign national can start working on the USCIS authorized start date.

 

Fee Type

Amount

Details

Form of Payment

Who Pays?

I-129 Base Fee

$460

The current USCIS base filing fee for H-1B petitions.

The USCIS base filing fee must be paid by University of Delaware and not the foreign national. If the foreign national pays this fee, the Department of Labor views it as an “unauthorized deduction" from the employee's salary and a violation of the employer’s wage obligations.

Separate check made out to “U.S. Department of Homeland Security”

Hiring Department

Anti-Fraud Fee

$500

For initial petitions or petitions involving a new employer, all employers are also required to pay a mandatory “Anti-Fraud Fee.” This fee is not required for extensions of employment with the same employer.

The Anti-fraud fee must be paid by University of Delaware and not the foreign national. If the foreign national pays this fee, the Department of Labor views it as an “unauthorized deduction" from the employee's salary and a violation of the employer’s wage obligations.

Separate check made out to “U.S. Department of Homeland Security”

Hiring Department

Premium Processing Fee

*If premium processing needed

$2,500

This fee is optional. It reduces the USCIS processing time to 15 days (instead of two to four months). If the department requests premium processing so that the foreign national can start work earlier, or for other work related reasons, the department must pay the premium processing fee. However, if premium processing is requested by the foreign national for his/her own personal reasons, he/she is allowed to pay the fee.

 Separate check made out to “U.S. Department of Homeland Security”

Hiring Department (if requested for work related reasons)

OR

Foreign National (if requested for personal reasons)

CGPS Service Fee

$425

CGPS charges this processing fee for all H-1B requests, both initial petitions and extensions. This fee must be paid by the hiring department.

Payment via Inter-departmental Transfer (Form) (on Forms page)

Hiring Department

Dependent extension/ change of status

$370 If the foreign national has dependents (spouse and children) who are changing or extending their non-immigrant status, the foreign national is responsible for paying the related USCIS processing fee. One fee covers all dependents.

Separate check made out to “U.S. Department of Homeland Security”

Foreign National

Academic credentials are included in H-1B petitions as evidence the foreign national has a bachelor’s or higher degree in a field related to the occupation.

If the foreign national provides academic credentials from a foreign educational institution, CGPS requires a professional credential evaluation of the highest degree in a field related to the H-1B position. The evaluation is then submitted to USCIS along with the diplomas to verify the foreign degree’s equivalency to U.S. degrees.

Please also provide transcripts as well, if possible. In many cases, a transcript is required to show that the degree was in the same or similar field as the position. This is true for both foreign degrees and U.S. degrees when the diploma does not clearly state the field of study (like University of Delaware PhD diplomas). Even if the field of study is listed on the diploma, USCIS may want to consult the transcript.

The University of Delaware is required to pay all H-1B workers the greater of the Actual Wage or Prevailing Wage for the given position.

Actual Wage: For CBA subject positions, the actual wage is the wage set by the CBA. To determine the actual wage for non-CBA subject positions, CGPS must collect and evaluate wage information for other employees in the same position in the given department. The necessary information is collected through part 3(b)(ii) on page 4 of the H-1B Questionnaire.

Prevailing Wage: The prevailing wage is the wage normally paid for similar work in the geographic area of employment. For Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) subject positions, the prevailing wage is the wage set by the CBA. To determine the prevailing wage for non-CBA subject positions, CGPS will use information provided on the H-1B questionnaire to prepare and file a Prevailing Wage Determination with the Department of Labor (14-16 weeks for a response). If the sponsoring department is unable to pay at least the prevailing wage set by the Department of Labor, then an H-1B visa cannot be processed. Prevailing Wage Determinations are required for all H-1B petitions whether it is a new petition, extension or transfer. There is always a risk of a Prevailing Wage Determinations coming back higher than the salary initially offered, even if a previous determination filed for the position met the wage requirements. For this reason, H-1B visas may not be appropriate for all positions at the university. In the event the Department of Labor returns a prevailing wage the department cannot meet, the department will have to make the decision to raise the wage or not file an H-1B visa for the individual. Please contact the CGPS before submitting an application to discuss H-1B eligibility as well as other visa options.

Notify CGPS of Salary Changes: If an H-1B worker’s salary substantially changes, academic units must inform CGPS. CGPS may request additional documentation.

If the position is a non-CBA subject position, the department must post a notice of filing (provided by CGPS) in two conspicuous places for 10 consecutive business days. Conspicuous places are locations where other workers in the same or similar position can easily see and read the posted notices. Appropriate locations for posting the notices include, but are not limited to, locations near wage and hour notices, or locations near occupational safety and health notices.

The purpose of this notification is to provide information about the LCA filing to current employees at the same worksite and in the same occupational classification as the foreign national. This notification is required by Department of Labor regulations.

If an H-1Bs employee’s position changes in any way, CGPS must be informed immediately. Academic units must contact CGPS if the H-1B worker’s position changes in any way. This includes changes in job title, salary, job duties, worksite address, or a change to or from full-time or part-time work. CGPS will then request the information it needs to establish whether the required wage has changed and whether a new labor certification application and/or H-1B petition must be filed before the change can take effect.

H-1B regulations allow a foreign national to hold H-1B status for up to six years. An employer may request up to three years on the initial H-1B petition, and extensions may be requested for a maximum period of three years for a total of six years. The six-year time limit includes periods of H-1B status accrued while working for other employers.

There are some exceptions to the six-year limit on H-1B visas. Extensions beyond six years might be available if:

  • The H-1B worker’s U.S. stays are intermittent, seasonal, or an aggregate of less than six months a year; or

  • The H-1B worker spent time outside the U.S. during their six-years in H-1B status. Time spent outside the U.S. can be “recaptured” to extend status beyond the six-year limit; or

  • The H-1B worker is the beneficiary of an application for alien employment certification application, application for permanent employment certification, and/or Form I-140 Immigrant Petition for Alien, and the application or petition was filed and has been pending for at least 365 days before the extension is requested; or

  • The H-1B worker is the beneficiary of an approved employment-based immigrant petition and is not able to apply for adjustment of status to lawful permanent residency because of the unavailability of an immigrant visa number.

These exceptions are not available to everyone. Availability depends on an individual’s immigration history and varies case by case. CGPS and Payroll should be contacted to determine if the H-1B applicant is eligible for extensions beyond 6 years.

If no exception is available, upon completing six years stay in the U.S. in H-1B status, the H-1B status holder must remain outside the U.S. for at least one year before re-entering the U.S. in the H-1B category.

H-1B status can be extended for up to a maximum of six years, with some exceptions, as discussed in the above “Duration of H-1B Status” section. The process to extend H-1B status is, for the most part, the same as the process for initial petitions. The department must submit a new H-1B questionnaire which CGPS will use to file a new Prevailing wage determination (if needed) and a new Labor Certification Application (LCA). Again, the department must offer the new required wage to move forward with the petition. See the “Required Wage” section above for more information. CGPS must file updated versions of forms, letters, and supporting documents with USCIS for the extension, along with the base filing fee and, if needed, the premium processing fee. Departments are also required to pay the appropriate International Service Fee for each extension.

There are some differences between initial petitions and extensions though. The Anti-Fraud Fee is NOT required for extension applications with the same employer. Also, if (a) the foreign national is already in H-1B status, (b) the extension petition is filed while the H-1B status holder is maintaining their authorized employment, and (c) the extension is filed prior to the current status’s expiration date, then H-1B/H-4 status holders remain in legal status while the extension is being processed by USCIS. Also the H-1B status holder can continue to legally work for the petitioning employer for up to 240 days while the petition is pending.

For information about what employees should do to maintain H-1B status, see Maintaining Lawful H-1B Temporary Workers Status.

If the employer terminates the H-1B worker’s employment prior to the end of the H-1B petition validity period, the employer is obligated to provide the H-1B status holder the reasonable cost of transportation to their last place of residence abroad. This requirement does not apply to dependents. In order to comply with federal regulations, the University of Delaware must document that the H-1B status holder was offered return transportation (whether or not the foreign national accepted the offer). For that reason please contact CGPS before terminating an H-1B employee so that CGPS can help ensure regulatory compliance.

However, if the H-1B visa holder resigns the position, the employer does not have to pay for return transportation.

If an H-1B status holder changes employers, the new employer must obtain approval of its own new H-1B petition from USCIS. Under USCIS regulations, a current H-1B status holder may begin to work for a new H-1B employer as soon as the new employer files a non-frivolous H-1B petition for the new employment, and the H-1B status holder may work for 240 days while the application is pending. The new employer and H-1B status holder do not have to wait for the new petition to be approved by the USCIS for the new employment to begin, so long as when the petition is filed the H-1B status holder is (a) actually in lawful H-1B status, and (b) engaged only in the work already authorized. If a foreign national is currently in a non-immigrant status other than H1-B, he/she may not begin work with the new H-1B employer until USCIS approves the H-1B petition.

It is possible to have more than one concurrent H-1B position. However, both positions must be authorized by an approved H-1B petition. For example, if a current UD H-1B employee wants to accept a second job at a different employer while still working for UD, that new employer must file a new H-1B petition for concurrent employment.

Resigning prior to changing employers: The H-1B category is not set up to accommodate the "real-world" practice of changing employment. The validity of an H-1B worker's nonimmigrant status depends upon engaging in the employment described in the employer's H-1B petition. There is no real "grace period" recognized in H-1B status. Because of this, an H-1B worker who resigns his or her position prior to the new employer's filing a new I-129 petition might be seen by USCIS as being in violation of his or her H-1B status, and is therefore ineligible for a transfer or extension of stay. USCIS may want to see evidence such as W-2 forms, paycheck stubs, or wage and earnings statements, showing that the H-1B worker was in fact employed by the prior petitioner and otherwise maintaining status. If the employee is unable to provide evidence that there is no gap in employment, an H-1B change in employer petition cannot be issued.

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ISSS Disclaimer: The information contained on this web site is provided as a service to international students, faculty, staff, employees, and administrators at the University of Delaware, and does not constitute legal advice on any immigration, tax, or other matter. As legal advice must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each case, and laws are constantly changing, nothing provided herein should be used as a substitute for the advice of official counsel. For assistance on your immigration status, we encourage you to contact an ISS advisor for specific guidance at oiss@udel.edu.