Skip to main content

H-1B Specialty Occupation


On February 24th, 2020, USCIS will implement the Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds final rule. This will affect H-1B petitions, requiring new H-1B form versions and additional documentation to be included in all petitions received by USCIS after this date. Any new H-1B requests submitted to IFSO, as well as any currently pending at IFSO, will require additional documentation and IFSO will reach out to departments and scholars.

This new policy will also result in a new I-539 application form for scholars changing to or extending H-4 status.

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

On March 20th, 2020, USCIS announced the immediate and temporary suspension of premium processing for all Form I-129 and I-140 petitions until further notice due to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).



Please note: ALL H-1B fees MUST be paid by the sponsoring department. Fees are not rechargeable to the international scholar and scholars cannot reimburse the department for these fees.

IFSO Processing Fees 
$2,500 IFSO Service Fee (Recharge Form)
$700 IFSO Rush Processing (Recharge Form)

IFSO charges a $2,500 recharge fee for internal services. Information on IFSO online recharge.

IFSO RUSH processing is available for an additional $700. Any complete H-1B packet requesting a start date in less than three-month’s time from submission to IFSO must include a rush fee; incomplete packets will not be evaluated until they are complete. Our standard processing time is two months, but mailing and USCIS processing times must also be calculated when planning for an H-1B start date. Consult with IFSO before submitting the payment online. 

USCIS Filing Fees
$460 I-129 Petition Processing Fee (Check)
$500 Fraud Detection & Protection Fee (Check)


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"). When ordering checks through IPPS, please include the name of the advisor who is working on the case so checks can be delivered to remote work places.

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.

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. 


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 - H Dalia Alshamas x61447
I - P Marie Manlapaz x24015
Q - Z Lucas Olson x25541
Faculty H-1B cases hired through a national recruitment  Sandra Vargas Tinoco x41939
 Administrative Support:

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.

I-9 Procedures

I-9 procedures for H-1B employees are complex.  USCIS has published the Handbook for Employers (M-274) to provide guidance; see H-specific guidance for extension or change of employer situations.  NOTE: ANY H-1B PETITION APPROVED FOR CONSULAR NOTIFICATION DOES NOT GRANT EMPLOYMENT AUTHORIZATION UNTIL THE PROSPECTIVE H1B EMPLOYEE ACTUALLY ENTERS THE U.S. AND RECEIVES AN I-94. Any 10-day grace period granted by USCIS does NOT include employment authorization; employment authorization end date is determined by the date on the upper right-hand corner of the I-797 Notice of Action approval notice.  Please contact if you have any questions.

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 bulletin backlog may extend their H status beyond six 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

H-4 Dependents

We will no longer be submitting concurrent I-539 applications with our I-129 H-1B petition filings, except for urgent cases where family members could fall out of status.  The I-539 application, supporting documents, and personal checks for dependents will no longer need to be collected and submitted to IFSO.  (Instead, the beneficiary will submit the I-539 directly to USCIS after receiving the case number from the receipt notice following our filing; in urgent circumstances, the scholar advisor will reach out directly to the beneficiary to consult on needed actions).

Please reference the H-4 Family Resources page.

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.  

UC San Diego and the International Faculty & Scholars Office do not endorse any particular service; evaluations issued by the following organizations, however, have been previously accepted by US Citizenship and Immigration Service:

The evaluation report must include the U.S. equivalent degree with field of study/major and the professional credentials of the evaluator.

Please note that the burden of obtaining the credential evaluation lies with the employee, the beneficiary of the H-1B status.

Policy for Graduates of International Medical Schools


Internationals with a medical degree from an accredited U.S. institution do not need to provide IFSO with the items listed below; the U.S. medical degree diploma will serve as evidence of the items below. Also, starting January 1, 2020 the PTL letter will be required.

Graduates of international medical schools may be appointed in clinical positions using the H-1B classification only with departmental support and, if in a training program, approval by the Graduate Medical Education Office.  Graduates of international medical schools who wish to pursue postdoctoral scholarly activities involving observation, consultation, teaching or research, with or without incidental patient contact, may do so using the H-1B classification with departmental support.

Graduates of international medical schools 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 Steps 1, 2 and 3 of the U.S. Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) or Parts I, II, and III of the National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME) certifying examinations, or the FLEX examination; 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, graduates of Canadian medical schools 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.  IFSO will contact USCIS to withdraw the H-1B using the information provided on the Departure Form.  If the department initiated an H-1B's separation from employment, the department must offer to cover the reasonable cost of return transportation to the employee's home country (this does not include dependents), see H-1B Early Termination MemoPlease 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.