The H-1B immigration status is designated for individuals coming temporarily to the U.S. to perform services in a specialty occupation. H-1B is the most common way to bring an international employee to WashU.

Contact OISS if the employee is from one of the following countries:
AustraliaE-3 Employee
CanadaTN Employee
ChileH1B1 Employee
MexicoTN Employee
SingaporeH1B1 Employee

A specialty occupation is defined as an occupation which requires theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge and attainment of a bachelor’s or higher degree for the specific specialization (or its equivalent in experience).

Employers bear a certain liability when filing H-1B petitions based on the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) guidelines. Employers must make attestations about the wages for H-1B positions and guarantee the return fare home if an H-1B’s employment is terminated before the end of the period of authorized stay. Violation of requirements may lead to Washington University being fined and prevented from filing future H-1B petitions.

WashU sponsorship of H-1B

Departments considering requesting an H-1B for an employee should contact the Office for International Students and Scholars (OISS) before making a commitment of H-1B sponsorship. The decision about H-1B sponsorship is based on several factors:

  • Business needs of the department
  • H-1B regulations about qualifying positions
  • Prospective employee’s previous visa history
  • Prospective employee’s educational credentials
Postdoc titles and clinical positions

To qualify for H-1B sponsorship by WashU, the position must be an employee position. WashU will not sponsor an H-1B for the Postdoctoral Research Scholar or Research Fellow (non-employee, stipend recipient) title. Only individuals appointed as Postdoctoral Research Associates (employee title) qualify for H-1B status.

H-1B application process

For applicants living outside of the U.S. or those currently in the U.S. on a different immigration status.

All applications must be initiated by the sponsoring WashU department

OISS processing time for H-1B scholar applications is approximately 2-3 months. USCIS processing times vary greatly without the use of premium processing.

OISS will also have to submit an H-1B petition for employees who are transferring or porting their employment to WashU. If you are hiring a prospective employee who is currently in H-1B immigration status, contact OISS for next steps.

Step 1: Prepare required documentation

Contact OISS with questions if unsure whether the job/employee qualifies for H-1B status.

  • As a department, make an offer of employment to a qualified foreign national for an H-1B eligible position. The offer should note that it is contingent upon the employee obtaining the appropriate immigration status and employment authorization.
  • Tell the department contact about the hire and complete the necessary paperwork.
  • Maintain contact with OISS about any changes or questions involving the planned employment.

Certain visa types are not eligible to change status to H-1B. Those types of immigration statuses include:

  • Visitors who entered under the visa waiver program (WB or WT)
  • J Exchange Visitors subject to the Two-Year Home Residence Requirement of section 212(e)
  • Foreign nationals currently in the United States in violation of their immigration status
  • And others, where a change of status is prohibited

H-1B application documents:

You will find the appropriate forms for a new H-1B request in Box folder “00 Department H-1B Resources”. If you (as a department contact) or your department are requesting an H-1B for the first time, please contact the Associate Director for Scholars for an introduction and a brief orientation of the process.

If you are a returning department, and you have trouble downloading any files, contact OISS. You should see three (3) subfolders in your specific departmental folder:

  • New H-1B Requests
  • H-1B Cases Assigned to OISS Advisor
  • H-1B Cases Submitted to USCIS
Step 2: Submit to OISS in timely manner

We recommend submitting the H-1B application to OISS at least three (3) months and no more than eight (8) months in advance of the requested H-1B start date.

If the application is received less than three (3) months before the requested start date, OISS may ask that the department update the offer letter and requested start date.

When you are ready to upload paperwork, create a subfolder inside the department folder. Use the following format for every new folder you create: “LASTNAMEFirstname_DOB (MMDDYYYY)”. Upload all request forms and supporting documents into the scholar’s specific named folder.

In order for your request to be assigned to an OISS adviser, the subfolder must include the following completed documents:

  • Department Request form
  • Prevailing Wage form
  • Actual Wage form
  • Employee Information form
  • Employee Information Acknowledgement-Agreement form
  • Deemed Export Questionnaire
  • LCA Attestation form

Checks for the following fees for H-1B filing must also be submitted, payable to U.S. Department of Homeland Security, addressed to the USCIS Service Center (vendor 953489, address 6). Department cannot require the prospective H-1B to reimburse fees paid by the university for H-1B applications.

  • Filing fee $460
  • Fraud prevention fee $500
  • Premium processing fee $2,805 – required is requesting USCIS premium processing (see Step 4 for processing timelines)
Step 3: OISS reviews and submits LCA

Average of 1-2 months

OISS receives the paperwork, checks it for accuracy and completeness, and verifies that both the employee and the job qualify for H-1B status. We then inform the department of any issues and missing documentation. A public access file is created, as required by immigration regulations.

OISS sends the deemed export information to the Research Office for review.

OISS determines the prevailing wage for the position and files a Labor Condition Application (LCA) with the Department of Labor (DOL) up to six (6) months before the requested H-1B start date.

The DOL returns the LCA to OISS to include in the H-1B petition. The Research Office sends the deemed export recommendation to OISS.

Step 4: OISS submits to USCIS for approval

USCIS premium processing time for a response (not always a decision) is 15 business days

USCIS regular processing time for a response is 2+ months

It is important to know that USCIS processing times can vary greatly without the use of premium processing. Accordingly, all change of status and consular processing H-1B cases must be filed via the premium processing service. For other H-1B cases, if you are unsure about whether to apply with premium processing, we recommend that you contact your department’s OISS adviser.

Once the H-1B petition has been completed, reviewed and shipped to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the scholar’s subfolder will move to “H-1B Cases Submitted to USCIS”.

  • OISS submits the I-129 petition and supporting evidence to USCIS.
  • USCIS approves, sends a request for evidence (RFE), or denies the H‑1B petition. USCIS sends notice of the decision to OISS.
  • If we receive an RFE, OISS contacts the department and/or employee for the documentation needed. We respond to the USCIS RFE.
  • Once approved, OISS notifies the employee when the approval notice is ready for pick up.

The employee can begin working at WashU according to the terms of the petition filed and the approval notice issued by USCIS. Or, if the employee is outside of the U.S., they can apply for an H-1B visa from the Department of State (DOS) to enter the U.S. and begin H-1B employment.

Amendments and extensions

For applicants currently in H-1B immigration status, needing a change or an extension of their status, contact OISS to determine whether a new H-1B application to USCIS is necessary. If so, the process will mirror that of an initial H-1B application.

AmendmentChanging employment such as title, site of activity, job description, salary, or hours worked
Change of employerTransferring (porting) to WashU from another institution
ExtensionExtending employment end date (details remain the same)

Extensions beyond six years

Generally, H-1B status can be held for a total of six (6) years, applied for in increments of up to three (3) years. However, extensions beyond the six (6) years are possible in some circumstances. If an employee believes they are eligible and the hiring department wishes to pursue an extension, the hiring department should contact OISS.

H-1B recapture time

Only time spent physically present in the U.S. in H-1B status is counted toward the maximum H1-B period. Days spent outside the U.S. can be “recaptured” and added back to the employee’s total maximum period of stay, provided those absences are properly documented.

To properly document time spent outside of the U.S., we encourage H-1B employees to keep a detailed record of all travel abroad along with all related immigration documents. The evidence of travel is the employee’s I-94 records. USCIS may accept the following documents as supplemental evidence: boarding passes, airline tickets, frequent flyer records, travel itineraries, credit card statements with travel purchases and hotel receipts.

Extensions based on pending LPR

An H-1B employee may qualify for an extension of H-1B status beyond the six (6) years based on a pending lawful permanent residence (LPR) application: 365 days or more have passed since the filing of a labor certification (also known as the 365-day rule) or I-140 petition if a labor certification is not required, or the employee is the beneficiary of an approved I-140 petition and is not able to file to adjust status to U.S. LPR due to country visa limitations. OISS will need to review any I-140/I-485 receipt and/or approval notices, to determine if the employee is eligible for an extension.

In general, OISS recommends departments continue to extend H-1B status (when possible) until LPR status is approved, rather than the employee working on a pending adjustment of status EAD.

If a department is interested in sponsoring an LPR application for an H-1B employee, discuss options with the Associate Director for Scholar Services no later than the beginning of the employee’s third year of H-1B status.

Restarting the 6 year clock

If the employee has been physically absent from the U.S. for at least twelve consecutive months, they may be eligible for another six years of H-1B status. Documentation of time spent outside the U.S. is necessary to apply for the additional period of H-1B status; this may include proof of employment outside the U.S., copies of lease agreements, etc.

Policies for departments

You can find the latest versions of H-1B related policies, all of which are available in PDF format, and information in the Box folder. If you have any trouble downloading any files, e-mail OISS.