H-1B (Temporary Worker)

What is H-1B status?

H-1B temporary workers are defined as persons who will perform services in specialty occupations on a temporary basis. The Immigration Act of 1990 defines specialty occupation as: “an occupation which requires theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge to fully perform the occupation.”

How long can an H-1B stay in the United States?

H-1B status may be initially granted for a period of up to three (3) years. Extensions may be obtained, but the total period of authorized stay cannot exceed six (6) years, unless the individual has progressed through requisite steps leading toward permanent residency.

If the employer dismisses the alien prior to the expiration of the authorized stay, the employer is liable for the reasonable cost of return transportation for the alien abroad.

Can an H-1B be paid by more than one employer?

The H-1B is employer specific; the employee may only work for the employer who filed the H-1B petition and can only perform the job indicated in the petition. (Concurrent employment is possible, if each employer has an approved H-1B petition for the employee.)

When can an H-1B begin working at UNCW?

The H-1B approval is granted on USCIS Form I-797. Employment cannot begin without first obtaining the USCIS Form I-797 except in the following situations:

  • The individual is already in a valid status which allows employment at UNCW, such as F-1 Optional Practical Training. In this case, they may continue to work until the expiration of their current employment authorization. If their H-1B has not yet been approved, they may remain in the United States, but may not work until they receive the I-797 approval notice.
  • The individual is currently in H-1B status and working for another employer, in which case employment can commence when the OIP receives the official USCIS receipt notice (proof that UNCW’s H-1B petition for the individual has been received by the USCIS and is pending).

What is the procedure to hire an H-1B?

  1. The hiring department completes an H-1B Request Form and sends it along with all other required documents (see H-1B Request Checklist) to the Office of International Programs (OIP).
  2. The OIP will request a Prevailing Wage Determination from the Employment Security Commission of North Carolina.  (This step takes two weeks.)
  3. If the H-1B employee will be paid at least the actual wage and prevailing wage, OIP will file a Labor Condition Application (LCA) with the Department of Labor.  The LCA is done electronically and is certified at the time of submission.
  4. The hiring department must fulfill the mandatory 10-day posting of the LCA notice and send confirmation that it has done so to OIP.  (This step takes two weeks.)
  5. Once the hiring department has posted the certified LCA for at least 10 days, OIP will complete the H-1B petition (I-129) and submit it, along with the necessary documents and fees, to the USCIS.  (This step takes 3-6 months.)
  6. When the employee has been granted H-1B status, employment in H-1 status may begin.  If the H-1B employee is abroad, he/she must obtain an H-1B visa stamp at a U.S. Consulate before entering the US.  Please allow additional time for this process.

Here is the H-1 request form and more information.


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