H-1B Visa Sponsorship

The International and Postdoctoral Services Office (IPSO) has prepared this information to assist departments in determining if H-1B sponsorship is appropriate for their hiring needs and how to facilitate an H-1B petition for adjudication by U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS). If you have any questions or need additional information, please email or call Jonathan Harwood, Sr. Coordinator of International Services, at joharwood@augusta.edu or 706-721-0670.

What is an H-1B?

The H-1B nonimmigrant category was established for alien personnel who temporarily come to the U.S. to perform services in “specialty occupations” for which the alien employee is qualified. A “specialty occupation” is defined as work that requires: theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge, and attainment of a minimum of a bachelor's degree as a requirement for the specialty occupation.

NOTE: These personnel can hold permanent positions as long as they depart the U.S. when the authorized period of stay expires or another valid nonimmigrant or immigrant status is obtained.

An H-1B petition establishes that Augusta University can hire a specific alien employee for a “specialty occupation” and that the individual qualifies for the occupation.

What positions qualify for H-1B sponsorship?

At Augusta University, positions commonly sponsored by departments for H-1B status include: Postdoctoral Fellow, Research Associate, Research Scientist, Assistant Research Scientist, Assistant Professor, Associate Professor and Instructor. Other positions may qualify and are reviewed for eligibility on a case-by-case basis.

What positions are not suitable for H-1B sponsorship?

Securing H-1B sponsorship for those in Housestaff positions, temporary employees and IT positions have proven problematic in the past. Departments are strongly advised to consider alternatives to the H-1B when contemplating hires for these positions.

Who is eligible for H-1B sponsorship?

To be eligible for H-1B sponsorship, a foreign national must meet the minimum requirements for the position in question. This includes degrees, licenses, certification and experience. Foreign degrees must be evaluated for their U.S. equivalent. All qualifications must be met at the time of the filing of the H-1B petition.

Who needs to file an H-1B petition?

As H-1B is an employer-sponsored status, the hiring department is responsible for starting the H-1B process. IPSO will only petition for qualified personnel whom the department wishes to employ. The hiring department must begin this process on behalf of new and continuing personnel.

How much does sponsorship cost?

Sponsorship requires the department to pay $460 in application fees and $500 in fraud detection fees (for initial applications only, not for extensions). Premium processing is available for $1,440. All fees must be paid by the department. H-1B salary requirements may require adjustments (increases) to salary offered as well.

How long does it take to hire an employee in H-1B status?

USCIS is currently not adjudicating cases through normal processing. Until further notice, departments will be required to premium process any H-1B case. 

How long is an H-1B valid?

An initial H-1B petition can be approved for a maximum of three (3) years with the possibility to extend up to a maximum period of of six (6) years.

What obligations does an H-1B sponsor have?

An employer sponsoring an employee for H-1B status is obligated to employ the H-1B beneficiary as described in the petition to USCIS. Any change in duty, title or salary must be cleared by IPSO to ensure compliance with DHS and DOL regulations. Changes may require an amendment to the H-1B petition. To notify IPSO of any change please submit a Notice of Change of Duties of Termination Form to IPSO prior to change. Early termination of an employee in H-1B status may incur an obligation to fund the employee's return to their home country.

Deemed Export Controls

USCIS now requires employers filing for H, L and O visa status on behalf of foreign nationals to certify that they have (1) reviewed the Export Administration Regulations (EAR) and the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR), and (2) have made a determination as to whether or not an export control license is required to release any controlled technology or technical data to the foreign national. If an export license is required to be obtained before such release, the employer must attest that the worker will not be exposed to covered technologies without first obtaining an export license covering the foreign worker.

Can an employee seek both permanent residency and H-1B status at the same time?

Yes. Permanent Residency is considered an immigrant category, while an H-1B is considered a nonimmigrant category. The H-1B is not a prerequisite for Permanent Residency

Will IPSO petition for status for the dependents of H-1B employees?

As a professional courtesy, IPSO will petition for dependents (giving them H-4 status). However, the USCIS filing fee of $370 (subject to change) is to be paid by the employee.

Who can be considered an H-4 visa holder?

Qualifying H-4 members are the spouse and any unmarried children under 21 years of age of the principal H-1 visa holder.

Can an H-4 visa holder work while in the US?

No. An H-4 visa holder cannot legally work in the United States but may engage in full- or part-time study.