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Information for H-1bs

For information on the April 18 2017 Presidential Executive Order and its mention of H-1b status, please read more here.

UPDATE: H-1b Premium Processing Suspended for 6 Months, April 3 – November 29, 2017

On March 6, 2017, USCIS announced that it will suspend Premium Processing for 6 months.  This change will begin on April 3, 2017 and will last through November 29, 2017, in order to make progress on the backlog of non-Premium Processed cases.  UMBC has historically relied on Premium Processing to quickly approve and hire H-1b faculty and staff.  Given that this option will be temporarily unavailable for at least 6 months, hiring departments need to be aware of the implications as described below.

Premium Processing is optional expedited review for H-1b applications.  An H-1b application can choose to include this request, and the required $1,225 fee, which then guarantees a decision within 15 days.

While the suspension has been announced for 6 months, it is not clear if Premium Processing will definitely become available again after that time.

Current processing times for non-Premium processed cases are on average 7-9 months.  While there is some expectation that this will change as progress is made on the backlog, and that Premium Processing will be available again as of late November, hiring departments need to plan for this timeline for now.

Here is a summary of how H-1b employees and the hiring timeline are impacted:

  • Individuals outside of the US who need an H-1b visa to enter and begin their work:
    • The H-1b application process for this person will likely take up to 9 months before they could begin their work.
    • There is a slight but unlikely possibility of requesting an expedited review, but we do not know how much faster this would make the process go.
  • Individuals in the US in a different immigration status, such as F-1 OPT or J-1:
    • The H-1b application process for this person will likely take up to 9 months, but this individual would likely have an existing work permission through their current status.
    • This individual would need to have existing work permission with their current status that is valid for 9 months, ideally.  If Premium Processing becomes an option again within 6 months, the department can choose to Premium Process at that time, but we cannot know for sure if this will become an option again after 6 months.
  • Individuals in the US in H-1b status, currently working at another institution:
    • This individual can begin their work at UMBC once the H-1b application is filed for them, or the start date on the H-1b application, whichever is later.
    • The individual can continue working until the H-1b petition is approved, regardless of the duration of the processing time.
  • Individuals already employed by UMBC in H-1b status, that need to do an extension of their H-1b status:
    • These individuals can work while the extension application is pending for up to 240 days.
    • The extension application can be filed up to 6 months in advance of the current expiration date.
    • Individuals in this circumstance should work with IES 7 – 8 months in advance of their expiration date to prepare their extension application to be submitted by IES as early as possible.

In general, anyone in these categories that is currently in the US is advised to avoid travelling internationally until their H-1b status is approved with UMBC.

Please contact Michelle Massey, Assistant Director, with questions or specific cases at massey@umbc.edu or 410-455-2469.

Citation: https://www.uscis.gov/news/alerts/uscis-will-temporarily-suspend-premium-processing-all-h-1b-petitions

 

General H-1b Information

The H-1b is an employer-specific working visa for individuals holding “specialty occupation” faculty positions at UMBC.  The H-1b petition consists of multiple attestations made by the employer regarding the salary, working conditions, special skills, and educational background needed for the job. The employer will also need to attest to compliance with U.S. export control regulations and whether the research pursued by the H-1b worker requires access to technology considered proprietary or confidential.  To learn more about the Export Control provisions, see the Information page for Visiting Students and Scholars maintained by UMBC’s Vice President for Research.

If you require UMBC to file an H-1b petition on your behalf, please review and complete the worksheet and provide all necessary documentation listed in the H-1b Worksheet.  The package is welcome to be returned in hard copy to Michelle Massey, UMBC IES, Admin 227a, or electronically to massey@umbc.edu

If you have any questions about the H-1b process as it pertains to your particular situation, please do not hesitate to contact Michelle Massey at massey@umbc.edu or via telephone at 410-455-2624.

 

H-1b Fees

There are fees which the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) charges to process the H-1b petition.  These fees are paid by the hiring UMBC department in the form of separate working fund checks made payable to the Department of Homeland Security.  The fee for the I-129 form is $460.  There is a one time fee of $500 to cover the cost of fraud detection and prevention.  (Subsequent extensions of an existing H-1b for the same employer do not require the $500 to be paid again).

Finally, it may be necessary to expedite the case and include a check for $1,225 so that the petition can be sent to the Premium Processing unit.  Regular processing can take more than 8 months to be approved by the DHS, so in most cases it is best to expedite the petition, as the DHS guarantees a response within two weeks of being filed.  (UPDATE: this option is temporarily suspended, as noted above, as of April 3 2017).