The H-1B non-immigrant classification was created to facilitate the employment of foreign workers in "specialty occupations" in the United States. The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) defines a specialty occupation as "one which requires the theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge requiring the attainment of a bachelor's or higher degree as a minimum for entry into the occupation."
Sponsoring an employee involves applications to the Department of Labor and Department of Homeland Security, and requires compliance with numerous immigration and labor regulations. All applications for H-1B status at William & Mary will be filed through the Reves Center for International Studies. For more information on the H-1B process, see the Reves Center's page on H-1B sponsorship.
Eligibility for H-1B Classification
To be eligible for sponsorship for H-1B status at the university, a position must meet the following criteria:
- It is a specialty occupation requiring specialized knowledge.
- The position and occupation require the minimum of a bachelor's degree or equivalent in the relevant field of study.
- It is a full-time, salaried position.
- The salary must meet Department of Labor requirements.
The following types of positions are most commonly used for H-1B status:
- Post-doctoral research associates
- Tenure-track faculty appointments
- Professional/Professional faculty appointments
- Visiting professors and lecturers
The H-1B classification may not be used for the following types of positions:
- Operational staff positions not requiring the minimum of a bachelor's degree as a common requirement for that position and occupation
- Part-time or hourly positions
- Adjunct instructors/professors
Time Limits for H-1B Status
William & Mary may sponsor an employee for H-1B status for up to six years. This can be done in 2 three-year increments. Additionally, if the employee is being sponsored by the university for permanent residency (Green-card) and the application for permanent residency is not yet approved by the time the six years are up, the university can extend the H-1B in one year increments until permanent residency is approved, provided that the university filed for labor certification before the beginning of the sixth year of the H1B.
If an employee has been in H-1B status for six years and he /she departs the U.S. for at least 12 consecutive months, he/she is eligible for another six years of H-1B status.
The six years of H-1B status are cumulative. That is, if the employee worked for another employer in H-1B status for two years, he/she would only have four years of H-1B remaining for W&M.
Filing Fees and Other Costs Associated with the H-1B Classification
As mandated by Congress, the filing fee for H-1B applications is $325. Additionally, effective March 8, 2004, all petitions for new H-1Bs (i.e. not extensions but includes transfers) will be subject to a $500 fraud fee. Both of these fees are considered filing fees and as such, federal law requires that they must be paid by the employer; these will be paid by the Reves Center. Premium Processing, a service that reduces the standard processing time from 2-3 months to 15 business days, requires an additional fee of $1225. This may be paid by either the employer or employee.
Responsibility for Filing H-1Bs for Employment at W&M
The Reves Center for International Studies retains sole authority for advising on, determining eligibility for, and filing H-1B petitions for positions at William & Mary and the Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS). Any questions concerning eligibility or required paperwork for H-1B classification should be directed to the Reves Center. While outside attorneys may be consulted for counsel, they are not authorized to file petitions for H-1B status on behalf of the institution. Any H-1B filed by an outside attorney will not be considered valid for employment and will be withdrawn. This is outlined in the Memorandum to Attorneys.
[[sjsech, Steve Sechrist]] oversees the H-1B program for William and Mary. For questions regarding H-1B status, please contact him at 757-221-3437.
Honoraria, Outside Employment, and Institutional Joint Ventures
Persons in H-1B status at William & Mary may not accept honoraria from outside institutions or employers. They may however, be reimbursed travel expenses, including state approved per-diem, hotel, and flight.
Persons in H-1B status at William & Mary may not accept employment from outside institutions or employers unless they have filed a concurrent H-1B petition for such employment.
In cases where a formal joint venture, relationship, or sponsorship exists between William & Mary and another organization or institution, an employee sponsored for H-1B status by W&M may work on projects pursuant to that joint venture; however, the W&M employee may only receive remuneration for such services directly from the College unless a concurrent H-1B petition has been filed by the other organization or institution.
Address Changes in H-1B Status
Persons on H-1B status are required to notify USCIS of any change in their residential address within 10 days of moving by completing an AR-11 "Alien Change of Address" notification form and sending it to USCIS.
The Reves Center suggests making that anyone submitting it photocopy of complete AR-11/AR-11SR for theirpersonal records. It is also suggested (though not required) that they send the form by certified mail so that they have proof that they have complied with the requirement.