H-1B Process at Texas A&M University San Antonio

 The Office of International Affairs is the sole designated office for the University to process and sign Department of Labor and Department of Homeland Security H-1B applications. Institutional policies preclude private legal counsel from filing applications on behalf of eligible candidates.

In accordance with institutional policy and federal regulations and in order that the Office of International Affairs staff may determine the eligibility to sponsor the H-1B, the department seeking to sponsor the H-1B must complete and submit required forms according to the appropriate H-1B Checklist and H-1B Application Packet on behalf of the international visitor.

Contact us with any questions related to the sponsorship of the H-1B and all visa requests for initial, transfer, amendment or extension of H-1B employment status.

What is H-1B status?

An H-1B temporary worker is defined as a person who will perform services in a specialty occupation defined by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) as one which requires the theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge to fully perform the occupation and requires the completion of a specific course of education culminating in a baccalaureate degree or higher in a specific occupational specialty [I.N.A. 214 (i) (1)]. The H-1B petition is employer and employment specific.

Obtaining H-1B Status

H-1B status is obtained through the Office of International Affairs. The hiring department will initiate the request to obtain the H-1B petition with the Office of International Affairs. Prior to filing the nonimmigrant petition with USCIS, a prevailing wage must be obtained from the Department of Labor (DOL) and file a Labor Condition Application with the DOL. Once filed, USCIS will issue a receipt notice as evidence that the petition has been received and will be processed. The OIA will forward the receipt number which can be used to check the status of the case.

In order to better assist and insure a smooth transition in obtaining H-1B status, we ask that all possible beneficiaries fill out an H-1B Biodata Form.

H-1B Application Packet for Initial, Transfer, Amendment, or Extension of H-1B Employment Visa Status:

  1. H-1B Documentation Checklist
  2. Actual Wage Worksheet
  3. Actual Wage Memorandum                                                                                                    
  4. Employer Statement Filing of a Labor Condition Application
  5. Department Request for a Prevailing Wage Determination
  6. Deemed Export Control Attestation Form
  7. Memo of Support

Duration of H-1B Status

The H-1B visa status sponsorship is for a maximum of 6 years. Exceptions would include:

  1. If the foreign national has spent time abroad while in H-1B status, that time is recoverable;
  2. If 365 or more days have elapsed since a labor certification or I-140 benefiting the H-1B holder was filed, he or she may be eligible for a one year extension of his or her H-1B status. 

Premium Processing

H-1B petitions may be processed faster by USCIS for applicants who choose the Premium Processing service. The Premium Processing service provides expedited processing for certain employment-based petitions and applications. Specifically, USCIS guarantees 15 calendar day processing to those petitioners or applicants who choose to use this service. 

Nonetheless, while USCIS guarantees 15 calendar day processing to qualifying petitioners, this two-week period of time only applies to USCIS reviewing of the petition and does not apply to the OIA’s processing time for any required preliminary steps to the preparation and mailing of the petition to USCIS. Preliminary steps include but are not limited to: sponsorship approval, prevailing wage determination, labor conditions application, notice posting, and preparation of appropriate forms. 

Note, Premium Processing can be paid for by either the institution or the beneficiary. 

Amendment of H-1B Employment

The petitioner shall file an amended or new petition, with fee, with the Service Center where the original petition was filed to reflect any material changes in the terms and conditions of employment or training or the alien's eligibility as specified in the original approved petition. An amended or new H-1B petition must be accompanied by a current or new Department of Labor determination. In the case of an H-1B petition, this requirement includes a new labor condition application. 8 CFR 214.2(h)(2)(i)(E)

Title. If the title change is a promotion to a higher position within the same occupation (e.g. Research Associate to Research Scientist) an amendment is likely not necessary, however if there is a significant change in job duties and/or skills used an amendment will be needed.

Pay. In general, an increase of 10% or less will be approved if it is due to merit or equity.  Higher increases are analyzed on a case-by-case basis. 

Duties. If there is a change in job duties, an amendment will likely be necessary.

Location. If the job location changes to a location outside of Bexar County, an amendment may be needed.

Percentage of Time. If there is any change in the percentage of time, such as from 40 hours a week to 30 or vice versa, an amendment is necessary.

Travel/Re-Entry on H-1B Status

Prior to traveling abroad, you are required to inform the Office of International Affairs of your international travel plans at least two weeks prior to your scheduled departing. It is required that you carry all of your original immigration documents as well as appropriate supporting documents when traveling outside the U.S. and upon re-entry.  

It is important that you fully understand the visa requirements to travel to the country you will be visiting.  Any information about visa requirements to travel into a country other than the U.S. must be obtained from your travel agent or by contacting the Embassy or Consulate of the country you will be traveling to.  

To ensure that your Department is aware of any foreign travel that may result in a delay of your return to providing services, the Office of International Affairs strongly encourages you to inform your Department Administrator and immediate Supervisor/Program Director of expected foreign travel. 

Filing Fees

The filling fees for an H-1B petition are as follows:

  1. $460 – H-1B petition fee (Fee applies to initial and/or H-1B extensions);
  2. $500 – Anti-fraud fee (Fee applies to initial H-1B petitions only);
  3. $2,500 – Premium Processing fee (Fee is optional and can be paid by the department or the beneficiary).
  4. $35.00 fee (internal) for LCA Posting Notice

 The employer is responsible for these fees* and must pay each of these fees in the form of checks made payable to "Department of Homeland Security".

*The Premium Processing fee may be paid for by either the employer or the employee.

J-1 Subject to the Two Year Home Residence Requirement Changing to H-1B Status

H-1B applicants who have ever held J-1 status and have been subject to the two year home residence requirement must present evidence of either satisfying the requirement or having the requirement waived. Evidence of having the requirement waived is a Department of State waiver recommendation or a USCIS waiver approval (Form I-612). Those applicants who present a Department of State recommendation must be prepared to show the actual I-612 waiver approval notice when applying for a visa at a U.S. consulate. If evidence satisfying the two year home residence requirement cannot be presented, the H-1B applicant cannot be sponsored for H-1B status.

Portability

Individuals who currently hold valid H-1B status with another employer may begin employment at Texas A&M University San Antonio as soon as the petition is filed with USCIS. Under this circumstance, the individual does not have to wait for the new petition to be approved before employment commences. However, if the petition is denied, the employee's work authorization is immediately terminated.