H-1B Application Procedure and Packet
The International Student & Scholar Services Office (ISSS) at Georgia State University has prepared the information below to assist hiring departments at Georgia State University with the process of preparing an H-1B petition for adjudication by the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) for foreign national employees.
The process is lengthy and complex, involving various state and federal government agencies. In order to ensure that everything goes smoothly, it is extremely important that you read these materials very carefully and follow the instructions.
Please be advised, however, that any estimated processing times referenced here or in the packet are subject to change without notice due to changes in the regulations/laws and/or due to backlogs within a particular government agency. ISSS cannot control delays of this nature.
If you have any questions or need additional information, please email or call Doreen Clayton, Scholar Advisor at firstname.lastname@example.org or 404-413-2070.
IMPORTANT NOTE: To minimize any potential problems with the processing times outlined above, it is important that departments submit the H-1B Request Packet materials to ISSS six (6) months in advance of the requested start date. Also, the H-1B applicant or sponsoring department must inform ISSS of any expected travel outside of the U.S. during the H-1B application process. Failure to report such plans could cause a denial of the H-1B application.
The H1-B visa category is a temporary work visa for non-U.S. workers in an occupation that requires at least a bachelor's degree or the equivalent at the entry level. The employee’s bachelor’s degree must be related to the “specialty occupation” in which the employee is working. At the University, H-1B status is typically used for tenure-track faculty, academic researchers, research associates, and professional staff. It is not available for employees in secretarial, clerical, office and administrative support positions, nor research assistant positions. Click here to view a list of eligible H-1B sponsored positions. Unfortunately, Staff positions outside this list will not be considered for sponsorship as they do not meet the minimum criteria necessary for an H-1B approval. Georgia State will sponsor employees for the H-1B status when the position requires at least a Bachelor’s degree.
- H-1B status is used to employ professionals temporarily, generally for a period of three years at a time, and up to a period of six years total; however, an employer may not sponsor an international for a period of time that exceeds guaranteed funding. If funding can only be guaranteed for one year at a time, then the international must extend his/her status each year (up to a total of six years).
- The position must require a minimum of a bachelor’s degree and the international must possess at least a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent in the field in which he/she is seeking employment. Internationals with an equivalency in work experience may be required to provide substantial documentation. The experience to education ratio required by USCIS is 3 to 1.
- The H-1B status is employer specific. Therefore, the international may only work for the employer who sponsors his/her status.
- However, the international may have more than one H-1B approval and work for more than one employer as long as each employer has an approved petition on his/her behalf.
- The H-1B status recognizes dual intent. This means that the international may apply for permanent residency while in H-1B status; however, he/she is strongly urged to make ISSS aware of his/her plans so that we may advise the international properly. If the international’s application for permanent residency is based upon the position he/she currently holds at Georgia State University, he/she MUST have such documents filed by ISSS. Outside legal counsel cannot be used by any department.
- The international will be given a copy of his/her approved Labor Condition Application (LCA) and I-129 application package when the H-1B is filed. The international’s position title, salary and working hours, which are attested to by GSU on the I-129 and LCA, cannot change without filing new H-1B paperwork.
- Dependent family members in H-4 status are not eligible to work.
Potential international employees already in H-1B status can have their H-1B “ported” to GSU. The application process for this is the same as for a new H-1B, except that GSU can hire the international with only a receipt notice for the H-1B petition from immigration rather than a full approval notice.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) charges the following processing fees for H-1B petitions. All fees must be paid by separate check.
- H-1B Fee: $325 (paid by department or international)
- Anti-Fraud Detection & Prevention Fee: $500 (paid by department for initial and transfer H-1Bs)
- Premium Processing Fee: $1,225 (optional, but recommended)
- Additional Fee for Dependents: $290 (paid by international)*
* Dependents must complete an original Form I-539 to request an H-4 dependent status classification. The Form I-539 must only include information about immediate family members (spouse and children) who are inside the United States at the time of filing. The Form I-539 may be downloaded from USCIS at: http://www.uscis.gov/i-539
ISSS charges the following processing fees for cost recovery for each H-1B petition:
• Initial/Transfer (port) H-1B Petitions = $600 .00
• Extension/Amendment H-1B Petitions = $400.00
The H-1B Worksheet enclosed in the packet provides information on how the department (via speedcode) or individual can pay the ISSS cost recovery fee.
Steps to Obtaining the H-1B
If you are unsure of how to complete the form please contact Caroline Lombard in Legal Affairs at 404-413-0500 for assistance. Please note that processing of the H-1B cannot be done until the Export Control Screening Form has been reviewed.
- H-1B Worksheet (page 7 of the application packet)
Information from this form is used to prepare the H-1B petition, identifies the department contact person, and provides ISSS fee payment instructions.
- Declaration of the Department (page 8 of the application packet)
This form requires the department to declare that it understands the regulations governing the employment of an H1B worker.
- Job Description
Please submit an official job description for the position for which you are hiring. If you do not have an official job description for the position on file please write one for this purpose or you can use Appendix A from the Affirmative Action paperwork filed with GSU. At a minimum the description should include the job title, duties and minimum education and experience requirements. Remember to list the requirements for the position, not the amount of experience your potential hire has.
- Sponsorship Letter
The sample letter (page 9 of the application packet) offers guidelines on what should be placed in the department’s sponsorship letter. Once you have completed the letter, have it signed by the department chair, dean or director.
NOTE: Though ISSS prefers to have all documents, including those listed below, submitted before starting the H-1B process for a department, the five documents listed above are the minimum required to be submitted to initiate processing.
- Copies of employee’s documents
- H-1B Applicant Data Sheet (pages 10-12 of the application packet)
- Copies of all current and previous USCIS forms
- CV or resume
- Transcript or diploma showing proof of highest degree: *If the highest degree is from an institution outside of the US, a credential evaluation is required. If the educational documents are in a language other than English, a translation will be required to accompany these documents.
- Copy of current I-94 card or electronic record from i94.cbp.dhs.gov
- Passport ID page
- Visa page
- Payment of Required Fees
- ISSS Processing Fee (can be paid by department via speedcode, or by individual via University deposit – see H-1B Worksheet for instructions):
$600 for initial request
$400 for extension/renewal
- $325 application fee, payable to Department of Homeland Security by check
- $500 Anti-Fraud Fee, payable to Department of Homeland Security by check
- $1225 Premium Processing (can be paid by department or individual), payable to by check
- $290 for change of status or extension for any dependent spouse or children (paid by individual) – payable to Department of Homeland Security by check
- The DOL assigns the position a specialized code and determines the prevailing wage. This process takes 4-6 weeks from the time International Services submits the PWR.
- The salary for your employee must meet or exceed the prevailing wage in order to proceed to the next step in the process of obtaining the H-1B.
- If there is a problem with the wage determined by DOL, then ISSS may resubmit a revised PWR form, and it will take the standard amount of time to process. The department may have to decide between raising the salary to meet the PWR or hiring a US worker for the position.
The ISSS advisor, in conjunction with Human Resources, will run a query of all other employees currently employed in the same department and title as the one being sponsored for H-1B. The range of salaries will determine the “actual wage” being paid by Georgia State for this type of position. The Federal Department of Labor requires that we pay the prevailing or actual wage, whichever is higher, for each position being sponsored for H-1B. If the actual wage being paid other employees is higher, the department may have to raise the salary to meet this requirement.
After the PWR and Actual Wage information have been determined, the LCA is completed and submitted to DOL. The DOL keeps these applications on file, and employers are required by the government to meet the wage criteria reported on the application. Employers may at any time be audited by DOL. An announcement of the intention to hire a foreign national must be posted in two locations for public view for a minimum of 10 business days, generally within the Department and/or Human Resources. The ISSS will send the form, entitled ‘Mandatory posting of the Notice of Filing and Labor Condition Application’ to your office and to Human Resources to post.
DOL requires that the University certify that the following conditions have been met:
- The employment of the H-1B nonimmigrant will not adversely affect the working conditions of employees similarly employed in the area.
- On the date that the application to the DOL is signed and submitted, there is not a strike, lockout, or work stoppage in a course of a labor dispute in the occupation in which H-1B non-immigrant will be employed in at the place of employment. If such a strike or lockout occurs after this application is submitted, we will notify DOL within 3 days of the occurrence of such a strike or lockout and the application will not be used in support of a petition filing with Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for an H-1B nonimmigrant to work in the same occupation at the place of employment until DOL determines the strike or lockout has ceased.
- A copy of the application has been, or will be, provided to each H-1B nonimmigrant employed pursuant to this application, and, as of this date, notice of this application has been provided to workers employed in the occupation in which the H-1B non-immigrant will be employed.
- A notice of filing has been posted and was/will remain posted for 10 working days where the H-1B nonimmigrant will be employed.
- If the employee or department wants USCIS to adjudicate the petition within 15 days, the $1,225 premium processing fee may be paid. Please contact Doreen Clayton to see if the $1,225 expedited fee is needed in your particular case.
- ISSS will mail all H-1B petitions via express mail using the department’s UPS account number provided on the H-1B worksheet.
The receipt is usually received within two weeks from the date the H-1B petition was filed. Processing times for approval of the H-1B petitions vary depending on time of year, but applications generally take from 3 to 6 months without premium processing. With premium processing, approvals will be completed by USCIS in 15 calendar days from the receipt date.
Once the petition is approved, the Form I-797, Notice of Action (H-1B approval notice) will be mailed to ISSS. The Scholar Advisor will notify the department to pick up the documents.
If the employee is out of the U.S., the documents will be sent to him/her by the employing department for the visa application at the U.S. Consulate. This process is known as Consular Notification. The employee may only enter the U.S. up to 10 days prior to the start date on the approval notice and will present the H-1B documents to Human Resources upon arrival at Georgia State for completion of the I-9.