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Hiring International Faculty and Staff

International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) will determine which visa status is the most appropriate category for a newly hired international faculty or staff member and will process the necessary forms to apply for employment authorization. The most common visa categories for international faculty and staff are listed below. All international faculty who received a degree outside of the US, are required to obtain a credential evaluation. JMU Human Resources can offer services through the C3 program to help new international faculty and their families who are moving to the area. The ISSS office can help answer questions regarding the hiring process for international faculty and staff.

F-1 Visa

The F-1 visa is a student visa. However, most F-1 visa international students are eligible for one year of Optional Practical Training (OPT) after graduation from their program of study. Therefore, applicants for faculty positions who have just completed their PhD programs will likely have one year of employment authorization available to them during which the process for an H1-B visa can be begun.

J-1 Visa

A J-1 Visa may be the most appropriate type of visa for an international employee hired for non-tenure track faculty positions, to perform research, or to perform a guest lecture series. The hiring department must contact the ISSS office as soon as possible after the position has been offered in order to ascertain what visa type is appropriate.

If the J-1 visa is deemed most appropriate, the hiring department must complete a Request to Host J-1 Visa International Exchange Visitor and return it to International Student and Scholar Services, MSC 5731. Please note that visa application procedure sometimes takes several weeks, depending upon whether the Embassy has a backlog of visa application appointments and whether an extensive background check will be required, so you are urged to complete this paperwork as soon as possible.

In general, a J-1 Professor may be employed only by the sponsoring institution. However, if the sponsoring institution gives prior permission, the Scholar may participate in occasional lectures or short-term consultations at a different institution. This additional employment must be incidental to the main purpose of the stay and must not cause a necessity for an extension of the DS-2019. To obtain permission to receive an honorarium from another institution, please contact the ISSS office.

H-1B Visa

Federal law allows for universities to hire non-US citizens into "specialty occupations." For example, instructional faculty positions are generally considered to be “specialty occupations” but other positions may meet the requirements as well:

  • The position must  require at least a Bachelor's Degree in a  field related to the job duties;
  • The Department of Labor must recognize the position as a specialty position; and
  • The university must pay at least the "prevailing wage" in the industry.

Provided the position satisfies these qualifications, the prospective faculty or staff member must:

  • Have the U.S. degree, or equivalent, necessary to satisfy the requirements; and
  • Either be in the U.S. currently on a valid visa with the ability to change to an H-1B or be in a position to travel to a U.S. Consulate or Embassy outside the U.S. to receive the H-1B.

Employment authorization with an H-1B is contingent upon which employer sponsored the H-1B. In other words, an H-1B visa holder may work only at JMU if JMU is the sponsoring employer on the underlying H-1B petition submitted to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

The H-1B work visa can be granted for an initial period of three years, followed by an extension of three years. In the meantime, the employee may choose to begin the process of applying for permanent residence (a green card) provided s/he is in a qualified position.

If a department is interested in hiring international faculty or professional staff on an H-1B visa, the Background Form for H-1B's should be completed as soon as possible. 

Permanent Residents

Prospective employees holding permanent resident (green card) status are eligible to any position at JMU. It is JMU’s policy to file petitions for permanent residency with the Department of Labor on behalf of all international tenure-track faculty.   Because of nuances within the law, it is more difficult and time consuming to obtain a Labor Certification for non-teaching positions, and the ISSS is unable to devote the resources to filing PERM’s for anything other than tenure-track teaching positions.  If the non-teaching employee wishes to hire his/her own attorney in an attempt to secure a green card, ISSS will cooperate fully, to the extent allowable by law

Once the Labor Certification has been issued, JMU and the employee will file a joint petition to request a green card for the employee based on that position.  At that time several fees are required by the Department of Homeland Security and the hiring department is asked to share the costs of that fee.  Please contact ISSS for additional information should you have questions about this policy.