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General Information: An H-1B status is for temporary employment (up to 6 years total for all employers) in a specialty occupation. H-1B status is employer specific. The position must require at least a bachelor's degree for entry into the profession and the H-1B applicant's educational background must match the position's minimal requirements. This category is regulated by both the United States Citizenship & Immigrations Services (USCIS) and the Department of Labor (DOL).
Process: The H-1B application process can be lengthy, so departments are urged to begin the process as early as possible to avoid delays. A visual of the H-1B process is attached here for your convenience:
All departments must contact the Office of International Programs for a prevailing wage determination from the Department of Labor. Departments can request a prevailing wage determination be sought anytime a new position is posted if there is a potential that the position will be filled by a foreign national. Federal law prohibits employers from paying H-1B workers less than the prevailing wage. Therefore, it is recommended that department request prevailing wage determinations prior to making an offer of employment.
Once a foreign national has accepted an offer from WKU, the department or newly hired foreign national must notify OIP to begin the necessary process. Both the hiring department and new foreign national must complete necessary forms:
OIP cannot begin the H-1B process until all paperwork has been returned with the appropriate attached signature approvals. Please note that WKU policy prohibits the sponsorship of part-time positions for H-1B status.
WKU Departments are responsible for notifying OIP when they anticipate a change in the H-1B employee's position including: separation, termination, promotions, demotions or any other similarly related change. Each H-1B worker is approved by USCIS to work in a specific position under WKU's filing of the Labor Condition Application. WKU must maintain compliance or submit a new H-1B petition for changes in new job duties or salary changes. Generally, USCIS and DOL must be notified, and a new H-1B petition filed if there is a significant employment changes (e.g. change in job duties, substantial salary increase or decrease, or changes in the job location). WKU is also responsible for ensuring that H-1B employees are always being paid the prevailing wage appropriate for their position. For these reasons it is important to contact OIP prior to any changes in employment.
Extension of H-1B status: Employees currently in H-1B status, who will continue working at our institution, may file for an extension of H-1B status if they have not used all six years of their eligibility. An H-1B extension petition may be filed up to six months before the current H-1B expires. To ensure uninterrupted employment, it is essential that the H-1B request for extension reach USCIS before the current H-1B expires. OIP recommends employees or departments notify OIP of the intent to renew an H-1B status eight months before expiration. Filing the H-1B extension before the current H-1B expires allows for an automatic 240 day extension of H-1B status while in the U.S. Employees who travel abroad during the 240 day extension period may have to wait for H-1B approval and obtain a new H-1B visa from a U.S. consulate before returning to the U.S. to resume employment. In addition, employees who travel abroad after the H-1B extension is approved must obtain an H-1B visa from a U.S. consulate before returning to the U.S. to resume employment.
Natural end of employment period vs. Termination: If the natural term of an H-1B expires without renewal, the H-1B employee is entitled to 10 day grace period before being required to either leave the US or have sought another appropriate non-immigrant or immigrant status. The ten day grace period can be sought by H-1B holders by making the request to US Customs & Border Protection (CBP). Upon entering the U.S., CBP will provide an I-94 document with an additional ten (10) day grace period to allow time for departure from the U.S. if so requested by the H-1B holder. Please remember to request the 10 day grace period when being inspected by CBP as it can only be granted by a CBP officer.
Employees in H-1B status who are informed of an upcoming termination or lay-off should contact OIP immediately. Employees should be aware that there is no H-1B status grace period following termination of employment at WKU.
Outside Speeches/Lectures, etc.: H-1B workers are permitted to make occasional speeches or lectures at other institutions or at conferences, but they may not receive compensation for these activities.
Classes: H-1B employees may take classes, provided the classes are incidental to the individual's employment as an H-1B non-immigrant and not the primary purpose in remaining in the U.S.
Further Immigration Information
Department Specific Information