H1-B Specialty Workers

The H-1B status grants temporary nonimmigrant work authorization and is based on a petition, submitted by the employer (NAU), to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS).

The basic requirements for H-1B status are that the position qualifies as a “specialty position” requiring a specific educational background and that the wages and working conditions comply with Arizona employment regulations and the U.S. Department of Labor foreign labor certification.  NAU will seek H-1B status for employees in tenure-track positions, research positions with funding for the period of intended employment, and staff  and other positions (such as instructor and lecturer) that meet the “specialty” requirements.

H-1B status allows the employee to work for a specific U.S. employer for a specific period of time and in a specific location. Multiple employers are allowed as long as each employer submits a separate H-1B petition for USCIS approval.

At Northern Arizona University, H-1B petitions are prepared by the Center for International Education (CIE) on behalf of departments interested in hiring an international applicant or continuing the employment of an individual who needs to change from a current or expiring work eligible status to this work eligible status. Because there are several types of work authorizations available to international employees, the International Scholar Adviser will assist employers in deciding which is best for the department’s and the individual’s situation.

The maximum initial period of authorization is three years. A three year extension is possible for a total of six years in H-1B status.

Fees (subject to change):

  • I-129 Petition: USCIS filing fee is Paid by the NAU hiring department.
  • USCIS anti-fraud fee ($500) for each new petition (not extensions) - Paid by the NAU hiring department.
  • I-907 Request for Premium Processing Services - Paid by the NAU hiring department or employee (depends on the timing of the filing).
  • I-539 Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status: USCIS fee for dependent to change or extend status is Paid by the employee.

When the determination is made that H-1B status is appropriate for the individual and the department, the International Scholar Adviser will:

  1. Request information from the department and the individual;
  2. Seek a determination from the Arizona Department of Employment Security that the salary offered meets the “prevailing wage” for similar workers in this geographic area of the employment;
  3. File a Foreign Labor Certification Request with the U.S. Department of Labor, and, upon approval of the request;
    1. File the Petition and fee/s with USCIS to classify the individual as a  temporary worker in the specialty occupation;
    2. Request that the individual be authorized to seek an H-1B visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad OR, if the individual is physically present in the U.S. and is eligible for a change of nonimmigrant status, be granted H-1B status for employment at NAU. The process is the same for H-1B extension requests.

An H-1B petition may be filed up to six months prior to the start of employment. The processing time at the USCIS Service Center varies from one to six months, so the earlier filed, the more likely the adjudication will arrive in time for the start of employment.

If a petition must be submitted close to the time of intended employment, expedited processing can be requested with a USCIS Premium Processing fee of $1225. When the petition with the additional fee is submitted, Premium Processing guarantees adjudication within 15 days, unless USCIS requires a security check. 

If the employee is outside the U.S., adequate time must also be allowed to obtain an H-1B visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate. The visa application process varies from country to country, as does the time it takes for the visa to be issued.

Dependents of the H-1B may submit an application for H-4 dependent status at the same time the application for H-1B status is submitted. 

An H-1B employee, for whom a petition requesting an extension of H-1B status has been filed prior to the end date of the previous H-1B approval, can continue employment at NAU for 240 days pending USCIS approval of the extension request.

The Center for International Education must be notified immediately in writing of any proposed changes to the employees’ job duties and/or change of job location or termination of employment by NAU or the employee.

If an H-1B employee is dismissed prior to the end of the period of the authorized employment, the department is responsible for the reasonable cost of return transportation to his/her last place of residence abroad. If the H-1B voluntarily terminates employment, the employer is not liable for the cost of return transportation.

Please call the International Scholar Adviser to discuss an H-1B work authorization, nonimmigrant employee status, and other related concerns. If you want to make an appointment, call the Center for International Education at (928) 523-2409.