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H-1B Visa General Information

General Information

The Office of Human Resources has assumed responsibility for assisting current and prospective State-funded faculty and professional staff in preparing the necessary Department of Labor and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) documents to seek H-1B (Specialty Occupation) status.

The H-1B petition involves several steps and generally takes anywhere from three to six months to process. Since this process can be very time consuming, Human Resources recommends that you start the process early. H-1B petitions can be submitted up to 6 months in advance of the appointment date. Please note that if H-1B status is being requested for an individual outside of the United States, processing times are significantly longer and departments should be mindful of this when planning for employee start dates.

The H-1B visa category is designed for temporary workers, part-time or full-time, who hold advanced degrees and are employed in specialty occupations. In order to qualify for an H-1B visa, one must possess a Bachelor's degree or higher, and be offered a position from Binghamton University. The position must require the use of the degree and be a professional or a specialized position.

H-1B petitions must be sponsored and filed by an employer. These petitions are "employer-specific" and therefore when changes of employment occur, a new petition must be submitted to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). If an individual works for more than one employer, separate concurrent H-1B petitions must be filed by each employer. Hiring units are responsible for payment of employment visa filing fees for the foreign national employee. Filing fees must not be passed on to the foreign national employee.

An individual can remain in H-1B status for a maximum of six years with the initial H-1B eligible for up to three years; extension(s) must be requested thereafter. Previous periods in H or L classification (including H-4 dependent status) are counted toward the six-year maximum, unless the individual was outside of the U.S. for at least twelve months following the time spent in H or L status

Although there is generally a limit (cap) as to the number of H-1B visas available in any given year, universities are exempt from this limit (cap).

There is a method for expediting petitions with USCIS called "premium processing". For an additional fee of $1,225, USCIS will review the H-1B petition within 15 days of its receipt of a premium processing request. It is strongly urged that the department, through Human Resources, pursue premium processing of an H-1B petition if the original H-1B petition was filed under regular processing, and the approval notice has not yet been received at three to four weeks prior to the requested employment start date.

It is important to note that your H-1B status permits you to stay in the United States for a specific period of time which cannot be extended unless authorized by the USCIS. Staying in the United States beyond the period authorized, or engaging in activities other than those indicated on the original petition submitted to USCIS are considered violations of the conditions of your status. Unauthorized employment on or off campus could subject the temporary worker to deportation proceedings by USCIS.

Dependents

H-1B dependents (spouses and children) in H-4 status are NOT permitted to work. Any costs associated with the filing of H-4 dependents petitions should be paid by the beneficiary; the University has no obligation for these fees.

Travel Policies for H-1B Employees

Foreign national employees currently maintaining H-1B status must check in with the Human Resources Office at least two weeks prior to engaging in international travel. The purpose of this policy is to ensure that employees have all of the proper documentation to return to the U.S. and to ensure that employees are aware of the potential risks of international travel. Travel Warning: it is likely that a foreign national employee will encounter significant wait times when applying for a re-entry visa to the U.S. at the embassy/consulate abroad. If this situation arises, there is nothing that Binghamton University lacks any standing to assist in this process and our role is limited to providing the employee with paperwork documenting his/her current non-immigrant status. Wait times are a direct result of increased U.S. security measures and are unavoidable. Please consider that such wait times may impact your employment in that you may be delayed in resuming your job duties.

Please note that international travel while your H-1B petition is in pending status will be seen as abandoning your petition and therefore will cancel your H-1B request.

Return Transportation of Foreign National

If the employee is dismissed before the end of the authorized period of H-1B employment, the sponsoring department will be responsible for paying the reasonable costs of return transportation to the employee's home country. This is required by USCIS regulations, to ensure that the foreign national will not be stranded in the U.S. without being able to return to his/her home country.

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Last Updated: 12/18/13