H-1B Specialty Occupation

Note:

Only an authorized representative of a UC San Diego department may request that the International Faculty & Scholar Office (IFSO) prepare an H-1B petition.

Overview and Eligibility

  • H-1B petitions are employer-sponsored petitions, and IFSO has the sole authority to represent UC San Diego in filings with the U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security
  • H-1B status is for internationals in a "specialty occupation" that requires "theoretical and practical application of highly specialized knowledge" and a Bachelor's degree
  • Departments may initially petition for up to three (3) years of employment and later request extensions to total six (6) years.
  • H-1B appointments must be full-time and fully salaried (stipends not allowed)
  • Only certain appointment titles at UC San Diego are eligible for H-1B sponsorship, per institutional policy; see PPM 200-16, "Supplement 1"
  • Most international researchers come to UC San Diego in J-1 Exchange Visitor status, which affords them additional time to build up a strong case for permanent residence, if this is an ultimate intention; in addition, H-1B petitions are very labor-intensive and expensive. To bypass the J-1 classification, please have the scholar read J-1 or H-1B: A Comparison (PDF), and sign the bottom of page 2, and submit with the H-1B initial request.  This form is not needed if the scholar is currently in J status or is ineligible for J status.

Click here to view enlarged H-1B Processing Overview flyer. 

handout-h-1b-processing-overview.jpghandout-h-1b-processing-overview-2.jpg

Any questions about whether a case qualifies for H-1B support should be directed to a scholar advisor at the International Faculty & Scholars Office before submitting an H-1B packet.

Advising breakdown by scholar last name: 

Scholar Last Name Advisor Name Advisor Extension
A - J Dalia Alshamas x61447
K - R Marie Manlapaz x24015
 S - Z* Roark Miller x43731
*including all faculty appointments with permanent intent for which a national recruitment effort was done. 
 Administrative Support:

Cost

IFSO Processing Fees (effective 7/1/2017)
$2,200 IFSO Service Fee (Recharge Form)
$600 IFSO Rush Processing (Recharge Form)

IFSO charges a $2,200 recharge fee for internal services.  Information on IFSO online recharge.

IFSO RUSH processing is available for an additional $600. Consult with IFSO before submitting payment online.  Rush processing is required for cases that require H-1B submission to USCIS within less than 3 months.

USCIS Filing Fees
$460 I-129 Petition Processing Fee (Check)
$500 Fraud Detection & Protection Fee (Check)
$1,225 Premium Processing Fee (Check) Recommended, but optional

The above USCIS fees must be requested by the department from Integrated Procure-to-Pay Solutions/MyPaymentsAll checks must be issued separately for each fee and payable to U.S. Department of Homeland Security (not "USDHS" or "DHS").

The premium processing fee, if paid for, must be paid by the department if continuous employment authorization is in jeopardy.  The scholar may pay in situations where continuity of employment authorization already exists (e.g., extension or portability cases) and personal reasons are motivations (e.g., expiring driver's license or personal travel).  We will require a personal statement from the scholar to this effect.

Processing Time

USCIS Processing:

The H-1B petition is adjudicated by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and their processing time varies dramatically and falls outside of IFSO's control; for this reason, departments are encouraged to submit requests to us 7 months prior to the anticipated start date, and/or to pay for USCIS Premium Processing service, which guarantees a 15-calendar adjudication, provided USCIS does not issue a "Request for Evidence."  

IFSO Processing:

H-1B processing takes four to eight weeks.This is an INTERNAL processing time, from receipt of a COMPLETE H-1B request form through mailing TO USCIS.  Incomplete submissions will not be processedAdditional time prior to employment eligibility will be required for USCIS to adjudicate the petition and for us to receive the approval notice from USCIS (or receipt notice for those persons currently in H-1B status at another employer; see chart).


H-1B applicants outside the U.S.:

Prospective employees who are abroad will also need time to apply for an H-1B visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate. This can be done only after USCIS has approved the H‑1B petition.

H-1B applicants inside the U.S.:

  • H-1B status is employer- and position-specific. Even if the prospective employee is currently in the US in H-1B status, UC San Diego must still file a new H-1B petition.
  • Once the UC San Diego petition is on file at USCIS, the H-1B applicant must begin working at UC San Diego on the petition-proposed start date.
  • If the H-1B applicant is in the U.S. in another status, it may take several months for USCIS to approve a change of status application; the employee may not begin working until the approval notice has been received by UC San Diego.
  • Changing from J-1 or F-1 to H-1B often will change the U.S. tax status of the employee.

Education and Credential Evaluations

USCIS requires that a prospective H-1B employee's degree is the equivalent of the U.S. degree required for the position; therefore we must submit foreign credentials evaluations with our H-1B petitions.  We do not endorse any particular service; evaluations issued by the following organizations, however, have been accepted by US Citizenship and Immigration Service:

Please note that the burden of obtaining the credential evaluation lies with the employee, the beneficiary of the H-1B status.  The evaluation report must include the professional credentials of the evaluator.

H-1B Extension/Amendment Requirements

  • H-1B status may be extended in three-year increments up to a total of six years; persons with an approved I-140 immigrant petition who are not able to file an adjustment of status petition due to visa bulleting backlog may extend their H status beyond six years in increments of up to three years
  • Extension/amendment processes take as long as initial processes; please submit requests 7 months prior to anticipated start date (note: driver's license expiration is often tied to H-1B expiration, and CA DMV will not issue new driver's licenses until USCIS has approved an H-1B petition)
  • Time spent outside the U.S during the six years of H-1B can be recaptured. To request recapture of H-1B time, follow the H-1B extension/amendment application instructions.  Prior to submitting the H-1B recapture request, consult with an IFSO advisor to determine if the scholar is eligible.
    • The scholar is responsible for including evidence of H-1B time spent outside the U.S (I-94 travel history, entry stamps, exit stamps, boarding pass, itineraries, etc.) as well completing the H-1B recapture chart.  
  • Substantive changes in H-1B employment must be approved by USCIS with an amended petition submitted prior to the change in employment circumstances; substantive changes include moving between represented and nonrepresented positions or between different represented positions, or from research to clinical care.  A normal stepwise progression within an employment series (e.g. Assistant Project Scientist to Associate Project Scientist) will not require an amended petition
  • Employment authorization is retained with a timely filed extension or amendment petition; the petition does not have to be approved by USCIS until 240 days into the new H-1B period

Policy for International Medical Scholars

The following policy refers to physicians who have graduated from a medical school outside the U.S. and who are not citizens or permanent residents of the U.S.:

ACGME-approved internships, residencies, and fellowships

International medical doctors may pursue postgraduate medical education in Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) approved internships and residencies only while under sponsorship of the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG) Exchange Visitor (J-1) Program.

Such individuals must be currently certified by the ECFMG and must be in full compliance with the licensure regulations of the Medical Board of California. Graduates of Canadian medical schools are not required to be certified by the ECFMG.

Non-ACGME approved clinical fellowships (GME)

International medical doctors who have elected to pursue advanced postgraduate medical education as a clinical fellow (non-research) in a non-ACGME accredited Fellowship Program may do so while under the sponsorship of the ECFMG Exchange Visitor (J-1) Program. Such individuals must be in full compliance with the licensure regulations of the Medical Board of California.

Postdoctoral study

International medical doctors who wish to pursue postdoctoral scholarly activities as a postdoctoral fellow involving observation, consultation, teaching or research, with or without incidental patient contact, may do so under the sponsorship of the UC San Diego Exchange Visitor (J-1) Program. Any position requiring full compliance with the licensure regulations of the Medical Board of California (e.g., section 2111 or 2113) is not appropriate for J-1 sponsorship through the UC San Diego Exchange Visitor program.

Clinical appointments

International medical doctors may be appointed in clinical positions with H-1B status and with departmental support.  Appointments as clinical residents or fellows in H-1B status must be approved by the Graduate Medical Education Office prior to IFSO preparing the H-1B petition.

International medical doctors in clinical positions and sponsored for H-1B status must:

  • Be currently certified by the ECFMG (unless graduates of a Canadian medical school);
  • Have successfully completed either the FLEX examination or Steps 1, 2 and 3 of the US Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) or Parts I, II, and III of the National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME) certifying examinations; and
  • Be in full compliance with the licensure regulations of the Medical Board of California.

Note on Canadian Physicians

Canadian physicians cannot use the TN status for appointments involving clinical care.  Additionally, to obtain H-1B status, Canadian physicians must demonstrate passage of USMLE steps 1-3; Canadian qualifying examinations will not suffice for H-1B status, per federal immigration laws (regardless of California medical board rules and policies).

Policy for Postdoctoral Scholar Employees

Special Considerations for Postdoctoral Scholar Employees

  1. The H-1B is job-specific, so do not request more time on this H-1B request than the institutional 5-year (or 6th-year exception approval from OPVSA) limit would allow for the postdoctoral appointment. Any change in job title from Postdoctoral Scholar requires an amended petition, complete with new internal recharge and external filing fees.
  2. Only Postdoctoral Scholar-Employee (3252) appointments are allowed for H-1B sponsorship; joint (with 3253 or 3254) appointments are not allowed.
  3. Postdoc out of Union movement procedures for OPVSA and UAW approval:

Reminder: Postdoc Out of Union Movements

If department wishes to move a current UCSD postdoc to another academic title before their appointment end date, an out of PX unit request must be submitted to the Office of Postdoctoral & Visiting Scholar Affairs (OPVSA).  Departments will need to provide the information noted below.  Upon receipt, OPVSA will submit the request to Labor Relations who will then submit the request to the UAW.  The UAW has 15 days from the date Labor Relations submits the request to respond if they contest the proposed movement.  Please be sure to provide ample time for review of these request by OPVSA, Labor Relations and the UAW.

  • Name of Postdoc:   
  • Current Title and Title Code: 
  • Department: 
  • Postdoc appointment end date:
  • Proposed Title and Title Code: 
  • Effective date of Proposed title: 
  • New department (if applicable):
  • Department contact to copy on notice to UAW

H-1B Completion

Departments are obligated to notify IFSO if an H-1B employee is separated from employment prior to the end date initially requested on the H-1B petition.  Until the H-1B petition is officially withdrawn with USCIS, the department remains legally liable for paying the H-1B's salary.  If the department initiated an H-1B's separation from employment, the department must offer to the employee (only) to cover the reasonable cost of return transportation to their home country.  Please complete our Departure Form to notify us of an early separation.

H-1B status allows for a grace period of up to 60 days or the authorized validity period, whichever is shorter, from the date of "cessation of employment."  There is only one grace period per authorized validity period, and it may be eliminated or shortened at the discretion of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (US DHS).  The grace period does not grant employment authorization, but may be used, for example, to apply for a change of status, prepare to depart the country, or have another employer sponsor one for employment authorization in an appropriate nonimmigrant classification.

Which Visa?

J-1 or H-1B: A Comparison (PDF)

Contact Us

International Faculty & Scholar Office (IFSO)
Phone:
(858) 246-1448
Email:
ischolars@ucsd.edu
Hours:
M-F: 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.

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