The H-1B category is designed for temporary workers who hold at least Bachelor's degrees and are employed in specialty occupations. The position must require the use of the degree and be a professional or a specialized position. H-1B petitions are filed by the employer, not the employee. In order to be eligible for H-1B status at the University, the individual must receive a job offer from the University and provide evidence of holding the Bachelor’s or higher degree before the H-1B petition is filed with U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services ("USCIS"). Moreover, these petitions are “employer-specific”; therefore, if the individual changes employment, a new petition must be submitted to USCIS. The University at Buffalo, University at Buffalo Research Foundation and University at Buffalo Foundation are separate employers.
Additionally, if an individual will work for more than one employer, separate concurrent H-1B petitions for each employer must be filed with USCIS. If the beneficiary will be assigned by the sponsoring department to a position in a new location, the sponsoring department is responsible for obtaining the approval of UB Immigration Services, which must obtain and post a Labor Condition Application for that site prior to reassignment. An individual can remain in H-1B status for a maximum of six (6) years. The initial H-1B can be for up to three years; (an) extension/s must be requested thereafter. Absent holding a valid Employment Authorization Document, H-1B dependents (spouses and children in H-4 status) are not permitted to work. There is a limit (“cap” or quota) on the number of H-1B visas available in a given year. Although universities and affiliated research foundations are no longer subject to the “cap”, for-profit employers continue to be subject to the H-1B cap.
An individual holding H-1B status is not legally authorized by the U.S. Department of Labor ("DOL") to "volunteer" their services in a position that is normally compensated in the U.S. The fact that the individual is not being paid does not matter to DOL when determining if the position is covered under the Fair Labor Standards Act. "Volunteering" in a position that is covered under a collective bargaining (union) agreement, such as but not limited to a teaching position at the University, is clearly not permitted and constitutes a violation of H-1B status. UBIS should be contacted if there is a question as to whether a particular proposed activity at the University will constitute "work" or will qualify as a true "volunteer" activity, which DOL associates with purely charitable motives.
The processing of an H-1B Request Packet by UB Immigration Services (UBIS) involves the following steps:
(1) Opening and review of the H-1B Request Packet for documentary and legal sufficiency as well as travel- and family-related issues; (2) Prevailing/Actual Wage Procedures (Union Agreement, Occupational Employment Statistics, DOL Prevailing Wage Request (may take DOL 3 to 6 weeks to issue), or Survey);
(3) revision of department support letters, requests for further evidence from department or employee and associated communications;
(4) initiation of Public Access File;
(5) preparation of Labor Condition Application(s);
(6) filing of LCA(s) following compliance with LCA posting and DOL mandated notice procedures;
(7) preparation of forms, including forms for dependents, and assembly of petition while DOL processes LCA (DOL will issue certified LCA no earlier than 7 calendar days from date of filing);
(8) finalization of Public Access File;
(9) assembly and review of petition;
(10) signing of forms by designated officials and dependents, if applicable;
(11) final review and submission of petition to USCIS;
(12) scanning and dissemination of USCIS-issued Receipt Notice(s)(USCIS Receipt Notices usually arrive at UB approximately 10 - 14 days after the petition/application are submitted to USCIS;
(13) scanning and dissemination of electronic and hardcopy USCIS Approval Notices (USCIS processing times vary widely);
(14) furnishing of assistance with consular procedures and travel to ensure procurement and maintenance of immigration status by the employee and family, if applicable.
Depending upon the time of the year and government resource allocation, it typically takes between 4 to 6 months in total for the U.S. Department of Labor, USCIS and the U.S. Department of State to complete processing of an initial H-1B petition and issue the H-1B visa. Accordingly, hiring units should submit H-1B Request Packets at least 6 months before the proposed start date in order to ensure timely processing of their request. The receipt notice from USCIS will indicate a processing time of 30-120 days. As these forms are standardized, they do not accurately report current processing times. Please note that individuals from certain countries may experience longer visa processing times because of 9/11/2001-related background checks. There is a method for expediting H-1B petitions with USCIS called “premium processing.” For an additional fee of $1,225, USCIS will review the H-1B petition within 15 calendar days of its receipt of a premium processing request. A departmental request for premium processing will shorten the amount of time USCIS will take to process the H-1B petition but does not affect processing times at UBIS because H-1B Request Packets are, absent extraordinary circumstances, processed in the order in which they are received. Please also note that USCIS temporarily suspended premium processing for H-1B extension petitions in 2015 due to USCIS workloads.
The following filing fees must accompany initial/transferring H-1B petitions. All filing fee checks should be drawn on a bank or other institution located in the U.S. and made out to the “U.S. Department of Homeland Security.” - $460 USCIS filing fee AND - $500 Fraud Prevention and Detection fee* AND - $1,225 for premium processing, if desired - $370 for dependents who are already in the U.S. ($370 regardless of the number of dependents) *Note: The $460 Filing and $500 Fraud Prevention and Detection fee must be paid by the employer and, therefore, must be drawn on an employer check. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security will not accept personal checks for these fees.
Filing fees for H-1B extension petitions do not require payment of the $500 Fraud Prevention and Detection fee.
For individuals who will be employed at the University at Buffalo, Research Foundation or UB Foundation the following charges will be invoiced to the department requesting the H-1B status: $1,300 for the initial/transferring H-1B petition. A charge of $200 will be invoiced to the department or the H-1B employee for dependents who are already in the U.S. A charge of $1,000 is invoiced to departments requesting an extension of H-1B status. These fees recover some of the costs of evaluating, preparing, submitting, monitoring and assisting with the progress of H-1B petitions with the U.S. Department of Labor and U.S. Immigration and Citizenship Services and visas with the U.S. Department of State.
Pursuant to SUNY Board of Trustees Policy 8500, the Office of International Education ("OIE") has named UB Immigration Services as the only unit within OIE authorized to handle immigration matters for international scholars and employees.
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The information contained on this web page is provided as a service to the international faculty, researchers, staff, employees and administrators of the University at Buffalo, and does not constitute legal advice on any immigration, tax, or other matter. We try to provide useful information, but we make no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained in or linked to this web site or any associated site. As legal advice must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each case, and laws are constantly changing, nothing provided herein should be used as a substitute for the advice of competent counsel. Neither the University at Buffalo nor the Office of UB Immigration Services is responsible for any errors or omissions contained on this web page, or for the results obtained from the use of this information.