H-1B Visa Category

University of Alaska Fairbanks - Petition For Non-Immigrant Status for Temporary Worker

You can view a copy of the signed policy memo here (PDF).

The University of Alaska Fairbanks , in exceptional cases, will petition the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) for visa category H-1B. 

The H-1B is a nonimmigrant status held by a foreign national performing services in a “specialty occupation.” A specialty occupation requires the theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge to fully perform the occupation, and the attainment of a bachelor’s or higher degree in the specific specialty as a minimum for entry into the occupation in the U.S. H-1B status can appropriately be used by academic and research departments for visiting faculty and researchers. 

The petition to USCIS represents a firm commitment by the employing department to fully fund the beneficiary for the entire period of time requested. USCIS will hold the employer liable for the H-1B worker’s return transportation costs if the worker is dismissed from employment before the end of the period of authorized stay. 

The University of Alaska Fairbanks will restrict this process to faculty and researchers in positions requiring the PhD or terminal degree in the field, and to information technology specialists supporting academic computing and networking. Requests for exceptions to this policy must be submitted to the Provost prior to the processing of the H-1B request. Additionally, only individuals appointed to full-time positions will be considered for the H-1B status. All UA and UAF policies and regulations regarding recruitment must be followed. As such, direct appointments will not be eligible for the H-1B status without specific, written authorization from the UAF HR Director. 

Requests for H-1B will be processed through International Student and Scholar Services.

Susan Henrichs 
Date: 6/11/2008

Sample Unit Support (Einstein) Letter

In the H-1B process, the University is the applicant and the proposed employee is the beneficiary.

UAF Policy restricts the request of H1B to faculty and researchers in positions requiring the PhD or terminal degree, and to information technology specialists supporting academic computing and networking. If you are requesting a position that does not meet these requirements, please write a memo to the Provost requesting an exception to the policy including the rationale for employing a non-citizen in a staff or APT position. Include the individual’s vita with your request. If the Provost approves your request, forward the approval with the documents in Section A below.

Under federal regulations, the minimum requirements for an H-1B, Specialty Occupation visa are:

  1. 20 CFR 655.715 defines the specialty occupation as “an occupation that requires theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge, and attainment of a bachelor’s or higher degree (or its equivalent) in the specific specialty as a minimum for entry into the occupation in the United States.” and
  2. the proposed employee must meet the degree requirements of the position.

The H-1B category is very limited in that it is employer specific (cannot work for another employer if UAF is the designated employer), position specific (if the individual changes positions or responsibilities are significantly changed or receives a significant pay increase, a new application must be filed), and location specific (e.g., cannot move from Fairbanks to Juneau as an assistant professor without filing a new application).

H-1B is an employer’s request for a temporary employee in a specialty field. An individual may not apply for the H-1B. The H-1B is limited to 6 years in 3-year (or less) increments. The time is cumulative, e.g. two years with employer A is added to two years with employer B, which would leave only two years for an employer B extension or a new employer C. If your prospective employee has been in the H or L visa category a cumulative of 6 years in the past 6 years without a 12-month stay in their home country, they are not eligible for the H-1B category.

To request H1B sponsorship, submit all documents on the checklist. Initial H-1B authorizations may be an initial entry into the U.S. in H-1B status which requires the application for and receipt of the H-1B visa in the passport, or a change of status if the beneficiary is already in the U.S.

Initial entry into the U.S. in H-1B status: If the beneficiary will be accompanied by family members (dependents), no dependent information or documentation is required.

Change of status: If the beneficiary has dependents in the U.S., they will be required to file for a change of status using USCIS Form I-539. They are responsible for the USCIS filing fee.

For individuals already in the U.S. and currently employed in H-1B status, evidence of current employment must be provided. This can include copies of recent pay stubs (online or hard copy) and a copy of the prior year W-2. This information should be treated as confidential and may be submitted directly by the individual to ISSS.

Note: The prospective H-1B beneficiary MUST NOT RESIGN from the current employment until UAF has received the Notice of Action Receipt Notice from USCIS. If dependents will need an extension of status to match the requested extension authorization end date, and wish the extension application to accompany the change of employer petition, dependent information included on the checklist must be included.

Please contact our office if you have questions or need additional information.

Extensions for up to a maximum of a combined total authorization period of six years may be requested. Extensions may be filed up to six months in advance of the current authorization end date. If the extension request is timely filed (received by USCIS before the current authorization end date), the beneficiary may continue employment while USCIS adjudicates the extension request even if the current period of stay expires. If, for some reason, the extension request is denied, the beneficiary must be terminated from employment as of the date ISSS receives the Notice of Action (Form I-797) from USCIS and notifies the department.

If foreign travel is anticipated while the extension request is pending with USCIS, notify ISSS as soon as possible and before the foreign travel starts.

Extension requests for accompanying dependents may be submitted along with the employment extension. The dependents are responsible for providing the USCIS Form I-539, documentation and USCIS filing fee. See the dependent section of the checklist for the complete list.

If the H-1B employment ends before the approved H-1B authorization period, the employer must request termination of the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) authorization as well as the employment authorization from USCIS. Liability for accrued salary and benefits could be assessed to the employer for the period following the end of employment through the authorization end date if the cancellations are not requested.

If the employer ends the employment before the end of the authorization period for any reason (termination for cause, lack of funding for contract renewal, etc.), under U.S. immigration regulations the employer is liable to provide reasonable costs of return transportation to the last place of foreign residence of the employee. Documentation of the plane ticket purchase or that the employee declined the offer must be forwarded to ISSS. (8CFR214.2(h)(4)(iii)(E)). Contact ISSS immediately should this become necessary.

Should the employee voluntarily resign or the employment and authorization end at the same time, there is no liability for return transportation to the employer.

Employment-based grace periods:

There are two possible grace periods:

  1. If U.S. Customs and Border Protection allows entry up to 10 days before the authorization start date;
  2. If when the H-1B beneficiary enters the U.S., U.S. Customs and Border Protection show the duration to be 10 days following the authorization end date.

Note: The 10 day periods before and after authorization start dates apply to the E-3, H-1B, TN status holders under 8 CFR 214.1(l)(1).

In no circumstances is employment authorized during any of the grace periods.