Beginning on November 29, the premium processing fee will increase to $1,440 from the current fee of $1,410.
The H-1B visa category is a temporary work visa for non-US workers in job position that requires at least a bachelor’s degree. The H-1B is typically used for tenure-track or term faculty, long-term academic researchers, and professional staff. In order to obtain an H-1B for an employee, the employer must document the appropriateness of the wages to be paid, the duties and responsibilities of the position to be filled, and the employee’s qualifications to fill that position.
One may hold H-1B status for a maximum period of 6 years. Since the Labor Condition Application must be renewed every three years, H-1B petitions are submitted for three years (or less), and may be renewed until the maximum period of 6 years has been reached. 7th year extensions are permitted under certain conditions.
- I-129 Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker/H1-B: $460
- I-765 Application For Employment Authorization: $410
- I-539 Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status: $370
- I-539A Application for Supplemental Information to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status: $85
- I-140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker: $700
- I-485 Application for Adjustment of Status to Permanent Resident: $1,140
More information regarding I-539 and I-539A: Starting March 11, 2019 USCIS has updated form I-539. The revised Form I-539 will convert the Supplement A pages into a separate Form I-539A to collect relevant information. Each individual included (referred to as a “co-applicant”) will have to complete and sign a spate Form I-539A. Please click here for instruction on how to fill the Form I-539 and please click here for instruction on how to fill the Form I-539A.
Change of Status to H-1B
For individuals already in the U.S. in another immigration status, the USCIS must approve a change of status. In order to change status within the U.S., a nonimmigrant must be maintaining their current status. Dependents of H-1B Employees will be classified as H-4. They may attend school, but may not work in the U.S.
Obtaining H-1B Status through Consular Notification
H-1B employees and their dependents may apply for an H-1B/H-4 visa at a U.S. Embassy outside of the U.S. when an application is approved by USCIS. The Embassy is designated to be notified in the original H-1B petition sent to USCIS and is notified when the H-1B has been approved. The prospective employee and accompanying family members will apply for H-1B/H4 visa stamps and enter the U.S. in H-1B/H-4 status. To schedule a visa appointment and obtain application information: U.S. Embassies Abroad.
Important note regarding J-1/J-2 immigration status: If the nonimmigrant is in J status and is subject to the two-year home residency requirement (or ever was in the past), he/she cannot change to H-1B status until this requirement is either fulfilled or waived. If waived by the Department of State, an official I-612 Waiver Notification and a No Objection Statement must accompany the petition when the case is sent to USCIS. Click here to read more about the waiver of the 212e two year home country rule.
Part-time and Concurrent H-1Bs
Part-time H-1Bs are discouraged. The Department of Labor requires a strict record-keeping of all part-time hours worked, and this makes these H-1Bs much harder to keep up with in terms of compliance. Please consult with OIPS Faculty and Scholar Advisor to discuss exceptions to this policy.
Concurrent H-1Bs are possible, allowing a worker to be employed by Mason and another employer at the same time. Both employers must file an I-129 petition with USCIS.
Extensions of H-1B status
H-1B extension procedures are basically the same as the initial H-1B. This packet must again be completed by the department and the employee, and submitted to OIPS with all requested attachments. If six years have been used, the individual must remain outside the U.S. for a period of one year before the six-year clock can begin again.
H-1B extensions fall under a “240-day rule” allowing the employee to continue to work while the extension is pending at USCIS.
“An H1B alien for whom the employer has filed a timely application for an extension of H1B stay can continue employment for the same employer while the request for extension of stay is pending with USCIS, for a period of up to 240 days beyond the expiration of the prior period of authorized stay.” 8 C.F.R. 274a.12(b)(20).
This provision allows a current H-1B worker who is filing a new H-1B petition for employment with Mason to begin working here as soon as we have confirmation that USCIS received the petition, rather than waiting for the petition to be approved. This is sometimes referred to as an H-1B Transfer, although it is a new petition by a new employer.
George Mason University Liability
Submission of an H-1B petition by Mason on behalf of a prospective employee does not guarantee that the petition will be approved. The approval of such petitions rests with U.S. government agencies. Every effort will be made by the Office of International Programs and Services to secure the necessary personnel for departmental needs, and to process the paperwork in as timely a manner as possible. Not all positions will qualify for H-1B status, but the prospective employee and the department will be notified before work has commenced on the application if it is determined that the position does not qualify for H-1B or the prospective employee may not qualify for H-1B.
Return Transportation of Alien
If the employee is dismissed before the end of the authorized period of H-1B employment, the hiring department will be responsible for paying the reasonable costs of return transportation to the employee’s home country. This USCIS regulation was implemented to ensure that the foreign national would not be stranded in the U.S. without being able to return to his/her home country. Resignation of the employee does not obligate the department to pay for return transportation.
Initiating the H-1B Process
The H-1B petition takes at least 8 weeks and can take up to 7 months.
1. The department and employee complete the H-1B form, gather required documents and submit it to the Office of International Programs and Services (OIPS). If you have any questions about the H-1B form, call the International Faculty and Scholar Advisor in OIPS at 993-2970 or 993-5120.
2. Upon receipt of the completed H-1B form and all required documents, OIPS will take the two following steps prior to filing the case with Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS):
- The prevailing and actual wages for the position must be determined. OIPS sends a description of the position and salary to the Department of Labor, requesting a “prevailing wage determination.” The reply will state the prevailing wage for this type of position in the area of intended employment, and will indicate whether the offered salary meets the prevailing wage or not. Time frame for this action step: 5-8 weeks.
- The University must attest that the higher of the two wages will be paid to the employee, that the employee is not being employed because U.S. workers are out on strike or lockout; that the employment of the foreign national will not adversely affect the working conditions of other workers, that proper notification was given of the university’s intent to hire an H-1B nonimmigrant, and that an Export License is/is not required before the alien is allowed to work in the position. This is done by filing a Labor Condition Application (LCA) with the Department of Labor. OIPS does this electronically. Time frame: 1-2 weeks.
3. OIPS mails the H-1B petition and all required documents, including required fees, to USCIS. The approval process general takes approximately three to four months from the time the petition is received at USCIS. The international visitor cannot begin working until an I-797A Approval Notice is received from USCIS . If the employee is already in H-1B status with another employer or they are extending their period of employment with George Mason University, they may begin or continue work once the I-797C Receipt Notice has been issued by USCIS for the filing of the H-1B. The H-1B processing timeline may be different at different times, please click here to learn more about the current processing time.
Important: For an additional premium processing fee of $1,440, H-1B cases will be adjudicated by USCIS within 15 calendar days. If time is short, this is a very useful option.
H-1B Request Form
The H-1B Request Form is for use by GMU departments who wish to employ international professionals in permanent positions. The form contains the following information:
- General Information about H-1B
- Initiating the H-1B Process
- H-1B Checklist for Sponsoring Department
- H-1B Checklist for Employee
- H-1B Prospective Employee Information Form
- H-1B Department Request Form
- H-1B Department Certification Form
- Wage Determination Work Sheet
- Deemed Export Questionnaire
- Sample Letter in Support of H-1B Petition
Download and print the H-1B Initiation Packet (November 2019), fill it out, obtain appropriate signatures, and return it to OIPS.
If you have questions about the H-1B request form, contact OIPS:
Certification Regarding Release of Controlled Technology, Data or Materials to Foreign Persons
H-1B Temporary Work Visas are subject to Deemed Export Compliance Regulations. OIPS works with the Office of Sponsored Programs to help you make these determinations.
If the foreign national is engaged in Fundamental Research, you will probably not need an export control license:
“Fundamental research” is defined as basic and applied research in science and engineering which is ordinarily published and shared broadly within the scientific community. This is distinguished from research which is restricted for proprietary or national security reasons. Fundamental research projects are usually funded with a 6.1 federal appropriation code and involve technology, data or materials that are publishable or publically available. So, this means that technologies or materials that do not contain a publication restriction, are already in the public domain or are the result of fundamental research, do not require an export control license and foreign nationals are free to participate.
If the foreign national is engaged in research which involves restricted, proprietary or secured subject matter, you will probably need an export control license:
Foreign nationals may not participate in research involving technologies, data and materials subject to the either the Export Administration Regulations (EAR), the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) or the Office of Foreign Assets Control Regulations (OFAC) without first obtaining a license from either the U.S. Department of Commerce, State or Treasury, respectively. These restricted technologies can only be disclosed to U.S. citizens or permanent resident aliens (Green Card holders) and must be kept secure from access by foreign nationals. Under EAR, the Commerce Department controls technologies and materials that are primarily civilian in character but have “dual use” military applications. The State Department implements ITAR and governs defense articles, services and data which is specifically designed or adapted for military use. The Treasury Department administers and enforces trade embargos and economic sanctions through OFAC. It also maintains lists of sanctioned countries and specifically designated nationals with whom it is illegal to conduct business. A violation of any of these federal regulations can lead to significant civil and criminal penalties. Before a disclosure or transfer of export controlled technology, data or materials may occur, a license from the appropriate federal agency must be obtained.
References to help you decide:
H-1B Temporary Work Visas are Location, Salary, and Duty Specific
The department has responsibility for ensuring that any changes to the working conditions of the H-1B employee be reported to OIPS. If the change is judged to be substantial, it may require the filing of an amended H-1B petition with USCIS. An amended petition must be submitted to USCIS before the date that the change becomes effective. Changes that should be reported include, but are not limited to:
- Promotion or other change in job title or rank
- Change in job duties/responsibilities
- Increase or decrease in salary or benefits
- Change in work location, or hours of work
OIPS does not charge fees for services, however, there are filing fees for H-1B employees and dependents which must accompany the application sent to USCIS. The Department must order check(s) through Accounts Payable and indicate that OIPS should be contacted when the checks are ready.
- Check Request Form for H-1B Applications: H-1B Check Order Forms
- H-1B Filing fee: $460
- H-1B Anti Fraud Fee (All New H-1B Employees): $500
- H-1B Premium Processing Fee: $1,440
- Change of Status or Extension of Stay in the U.S. Form for Dependents
How to Request Checks
OIPS does not charge fees for services, however, there are filing fees for H-1B employees and dependents, which must accompany the application sent to USCIS. The Department must order two separate check(s) through Accounts Payable and three separate checks if Premium Processing is needed. Please refer in the forms the name of the H-1B employee. In addition, please indicate that OIPS should be contacted when the checks are ready. To access the samples of the forms with instructions, click here: Anti Fraud fee, I-129 filling fee, and Premium Processing fee. If you need additional instructions on how to fill out the Payment Request Form, please click here. On the second page of the document, you will see the instructions. Please contact Moksheda Thapa at firstname.lastname@example.org, if you have additional questions.
Important: The employee usually pays for filing fees for Change of Status or Extensions of Stay for their dependents in the U.S. This form must accompany the H-1B application if all family members are to be included in the application.