The H-1B is a nonimmigrant visa status (with “dual intent”) for an international worker who will perform services in a specialty occupation. A specialty occupation is one that requires a specialized body of knowledge, meaning that the job requires at least a bachelor's degree. The regulations pertaining to the H-1B nonimmigrant status indicate the following:
- H-1B is job specific - the number of hours, job title, nature of job duties, and salary are all specified within the corresponding H-1B petition. Thus, an H-1B status holder is authorized to work for the employer that sponsored the H-1B position only, and may not work or receive payment from any other employer in the U.S. (including honoraria).
- H-1B is location specific - work that will be performed outside of Atlanta or a change in departments during the approved H-1B status may require an amendment of the H-1B petition.
- H-1B is time specific-the H-1B status can initially be granted for a period of up to 3 years, which is renewable for a maximum of 6 years with few exceptions.
Maintenance of Status
- H-1B visa holders can only work for the employer indicated on their H-1B approval notice. Consultation for other employers or working at other locations is not allowed. A concurrently filed H-1B with another employer may be allowed in limited circumstances.
- H-1B visa holders can attend school, incidental to their status. This means that it must not impact your work or keep you from fulfilling your work duties.
- H-1Bs have a ten day grace period after their status expires, during which they cannot work. The work authorization dates are at the top right of your I-797 Approval Notice. At the end of this grace period, you should depart the U.S. If you are entering the U.S. on an H-1B, you may only enter up to ten days prior to your status start date.
- If you decide to terminate your position at Georgia State prior to the end date listed on your approval notice you must contact ISSS so that this can be reported to immigration. Your H-1B status will end on the day you stop working, though USCIS does allow for a discretionary 60 day period during which you may find another employer (though again, you must still have valid time left in your H-1B status). Being discretionary, this 60 day period is not approved in retrospect.
- If you are terminated from your position at Georgia State before your H-1B expires, then your hiring department must offer you a reasonably priced plane ticket to your home country so that you can immediately return.
- Reporting changes of address to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services within 10 days by submitting at their website.
Extension or Transfer of H-1B Status
The length of time an individual may remain in the U.S. in H-1B status is indicated on 1-94 Arrival/ Departure record. Ordinarily, the date on the 1-94 should be consistent with the H-1B approval notice on form 1-797. Please report any inconsistencies immediately to the ISSS advisor. If an extension is needed, the department must initiate the process by contacting ISSS 6-8 months prior to the current H-1B expiration. The H-1B status holder will need to provide supporting documentation for the H-1B extension petition.
Once the university has received the receipt notice for the extension, the person may continue their employment for up to 240 days beyond their current end date. *Important: a person may not travel during these 240 days.*
The same general rule applies if changing employers. If a person is starting at GSU and already holds H-1B status, then GSU only needs a receipt notice for the person to begin working for us.
When traveling outside of the U.S., please ensure that you have the necessary documents for entering whichever country you choose to visit. To find out what documents you will need to travel to a certain country please visit that country’s U.S. Embassy or Consulate website.
The next thing to consider is whether or not you will need an H-1B visa stamp in your passport. If you changed your status from F or J to H-1B within the U.S., then you will not have an H-1B visa stamp in your passport and will therefore have to visit a U.S. Embassy or Consulate to obtain one before you can re-enter the U.S.
When re-entering, please be sure to carry the following items:
- Valid Passport: this is a passport that has not expired and has at least 6 months of validity left on it.
- Original I-797 approval notice: ISSS will give you this at the time that your H-1B status is approved.
- One photocopy of the H-1B application filed on your behalf by Georgia State: you will receive a copy from our office when we receive your the approval notice from USCIS.
- Letter from employing department stating that you continue to be employed by them. (Optional, but recommended)
Employees in H-1B status are subject to Social Security and Medicare tax. H-1B employment is also subject to federal and state income tax, unless tax exemption is specifically provided by treaty. All foreign nationals, regardless of visa status, who receive payment while in the U.S. are required to file U.S. income tax returns.
Social Security Number
Georgia State international employees need to apply for a social security number for the purposes of filing taxes. The social security number is used by the U.S. Government to identify wage earners for tax purposes.
You will need to have the following in order to apply for a social security number:
- Valid passport
- I-94 card (showing H-1B status)
- I-797 (H-1B approval notice)
- Departmental Letter confirming employment at Georgia State
- Completed Form SS-5
You should expect to receive your social security card by mail in approximately two-four weeks.
H-4 visa holders are not eligible for a Social Security number unless they have a work authorization card.
In the U.S. driver’s licenses are used for identification purposes so you will use it quite often and it will reduce the cost of your car insurance. Go to the Department of Driver Services (DDS) website to find the most convenient location for you. Take the following documents with you:
- I-94 Card
- H-1B Approval Notice
- Proof of local residence (such as a signed lease agreement, a utility bill with your name and local address on it or a bank statement—each must be issued within the last 45 days)
- Social Security Card