The H-1B visa category is a temporary work visa for non-US workers in a position that requires at least a bachelor’s degree. The H-1B is typically used for tenure-track or term faculty and long-term academic researchers.
The H-1B classification cannot be used for the following types of positions:
- Operational staff positions not requiring the minimum of a bachelor's degree as a common requirement for that position and occupation
- Classified Staff positions
- Part-time or hourly positions
- Adjunct instructors/professors
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. H-1B petitions are submitted for three years (or less), and maybe 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
Initiating the H-1B Process
1. The department should reach out to International Faculty and Scholar Advisor in OIPS at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org to verify eligibly for H-1B. If the department has a position that is eligible for H-1B sponsorship, and the position has been approved by the department chair, the department must submit the H-1B request forms for that position to OIPS.
2. Upon receipt of the completed H-1B request forms, OIPS will take the two following steps prior to filing the case with United States 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: 9-14 months.
- 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: 2 weeks.
3. OIPS mails the H-1B petition and all required documents, including required fees, to USCIS. USCIS processing times vary widely for H-1B petitions and are difficult to predict. Our current H-1B petition processing time estimate is: 4-9 months. Check case processing times.
For an additional premium processing fee of $2,500 (fee will increase to $2,805 as of February 26, 2024), H-1B cases will be adjudicated by USCIS within 15 calendar days.
The international faculty member 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 GMU, they may begin or continue work for 240 days once the I-797C Receipt Notice has been issued by USCIS and received by OIPS. OIPS notifies both departments and H1Bs.
H-1B Request Forms
The H-1B Request Forms are for GMU departments who wish to employ international faculty and researchers in permanent positions.
H-1B advisor can email forms separately:
- H-1B Checklist for Sponsoring Department
- H-1B Checklist for New H-1B Employee
- H-1B Prospective Employee Information Form
- H-1B Initiation Form 2023 (Page 9)
- Wage Determination Work Sheet 2023
- H-1B Department Certification Form 2023
- H-1B Deemed Export Form 2023
- Sample Letter in Support of H-1B Petition
OIPS does not charge fees for processing H-1B petitions. However, there are filing fees which must accompany the application sent to USCIS.
Please allow AP and Wells Fargo 2-3 weeks to process and mail checks to OIPS. All checks payable to “U.S. Department of Homeland Security”
• Petition fee - $460 (Department pays)
• Fraud Prevention Fee- $500 (First time GMU employees, Department pays)
• Premium Processing fee- $2,500 (Employer or Employee Pay) Note: this fee will increase to $2,805 on February 26, 2024.
- Open the Payment Request Workflow and complete the steps to log in with your Mason Net ID and Patriot Password (2FA required).
- Enter Vendor G#: G00310266 for check(s) made payable to "U.S. Department of Homeland Security".
- For Payee's Mailing address, select: “4400 University Drive, OIPS, MSN 4C3, Fairfax, VA 22030. Attn: H-1B Team”
- Each fee should be a separate check, follow instructions in Payment Request Quick Guide.
- Refer to the Payment Request Quick Guide for additional information
For all questions regarding the Payment Request Workflow process for ordering checks, please contact APforms@gmu.edu. If you have a unique situation that needs special handling or cancellation, feel free to reach out to AP via APforms@gmu.edu. You can also contact Catherine Staggs at email@example.com
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.
Change of Status to H-1B within the US
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 expects all Colleges to work with the Office of Sponsored Programs to clarify if Deemed Export Compliance Regulations impact the grants that an employee requiring visa sponsorship may work on and comply with any and all Deemed Export Compliance Regulations with their sponsored research. When sponsoring an employee for an H-1B visa, each hiring unit must accurately complete the H-1B Export Compliance Form and submit the form to the H-1B advisor at OIPS.
OIPS works with the Office of Research Integrity and Assurance to confirm that each unit sponsoring employees for an H-1B visa is in compliance with Deemed Export Compliance Regulations, as reported on the H-1B Export Compliance Form by the hiring units. For more information on Deemed Export Compliance Regulations, please contact the Office of Research Integrity and Assurance at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
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
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.