H-1B Overview

The H-1B non-immigrant classification is for the employment of foreign workers in “specialty occupation” in the United States.  The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) statue defines “specialty occupation” for H-1B purposes as “an occupation that requires theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge, and attainment of a bachelor’s or higher degree in the specific specialty (or its equivalent) as a minimum for entry into the occupation in the United States.”

The H-1B Specialty Occupation worker may be admitted for a period of up to three years.  The status can be extended but generally cannot go beyond a total of six years, though some exceptions do apply.   

To be eligible for sponsorship for H-1B status at James Madison University, a position must meet the following criteria:

  • It is a specialty occupation requiring the minimum of a bachelor’s degree or equivalent in the relevant field of study.
  • It is a full-time, salaried position.
  • The salary must meet Department of Labor wage requirements.
The H-1B Process

After ISSS determines that the position qualifies for the H-1B specialty occupation and the employee meets the requirements, ISSS will process the H-1B status. 

The process includes:

  • The filing of the Labor Condition Application (LCA) with US Department of Labor indicates that JMU will pay no less than the prevailing wage for the position and post a Notice of Intent to file for 10 business days.
  • A copy of the certified LCA will be provided to the employee and filed with the H-1B petition.
  • ISSS will collect the necessary documents for filing the H-1B petition with USCIS.
  • ISSS will file the H-1B petition, with associated filing fees.
  • USCIS adjudicates H-1B petitions, normally within 4-6 months.
  • The approval notice will be sent to ISSS
    • For employees outside the US, the sponsoring department will send the approval notice to the employee, who can apply for the H-1B visa at the US Embassy in their home country.
    • For employees inside the US, the approval notice will be provided to the employee.

*An approval is not guaranteed, as the decision is solely at the discretion of USCIS. 

Additional information:

  • If employee is seeking to change of status to H-1B, who must wait for the H-1B petition to be approved before starting employment under the H-1B status.
  • If an employee already has H-1B status and is changing employers (to JMU), who may begin employment with JMU once the H-1B petition has been filed and the case is considered pending. They may continue with employment at JMU for up to 240 days.  The 240-day rule also applies to JMU employees who file a timely extension of stay on their current H-1B status.
  • All international employees who received a degree outside of the US, are required to obtain a credential evaluation.
  • Travel outside the US is at the discretion of the employee. Be advised that entry into the US, requires a valid passport and H-1B visa (unless a Canadian citizen, see below).  Our recommendation is to schedule your visa interview before leaving the US. 
  • Canadian citizens do not need a visa to enter the U.S. Therefore, a Canadian employee will travel to the U.S with the approval and petition packet.
JMU Policies
  • The employer is required to cover the costs for filing the H-1B petition. CGE-ISSS is currently covering the application fee ($460) and antifraud fee ($500). 
  • Premium Processing provides expedited processing for the H-1B petition (optional). When requesting this service, USCIS will “process” the petition within 15 calendar days.  The cost for premium processing is $2,805, which is at the expense of the department.  
  • All dependent forms and expenses are the responsibility of the employee.
  • Policy 1326 – Immigration Reform and Control Act
Further questions?

If you have any further questions about the H-1B process, please contact Sherry Lu.

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