The H-1B immigration classification is intended for individuals coming to the United States to perform services in what can be considered to be a “specialty occupation.” Current U.S. immigration regulations define specialty occupation as "an occupation which requires theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge, and attainment of a bachelor's or higher degree for the specific specialization (or its equivalent in experience)."
- The H-1B is employer-specific and salary-specific, meaning that the H-1B beneficiary must be an employee of the H-1B petitioning employer (UMass), and may only receive compensation from that employer in the specified amount of contractual salary. Processing times vary but it is best to apply 6 months before the employment start date.
- H-1B visa holders are eligible for a total maximum stay in the US of six (6) years; an initial H-1B petition may request a validity period of up to three years, and subsequent extensions of H-1B status may not exceed six-years. The six-year limit includes any previous time spent at another institution or company while sponsored for H-1B status. A new six-year period of H-1B status may be applied for, but only if the beneficiary has spent at least one year outside of the United States following the completion of any previous H-1B status. There are also limited provisions for extension of the six-year maximum period of stay for H-1B beneficiaries in the permanent residence (“green card”) process.
- All H-1B sponsorship requests must be processed through the UMass International Programs Office. Outside attorneys may not file H-1B petitions on behalf of current or prospective UMass employees without preapproval and authorization of the IPO.
- UMass will sponsor current and prospective international employees for H-1B status only if they meet certain eligibility criteria. As a general rule, UMass will file H-1B petitions for faculty and senior research, managerial and professional positions.
- Hiring departments must initiate the H-1B sponsorship process directly through the IPO. The sponsoring department, in coordination with the IPO and the individual international employee, must provide documentation to establish that the offered position is indeed a “specialty occupation” and that the individual holds the requisite credentials for the position. The department is also required to offer a salary to the individual that meets the Department of Labor's "prevailing wage" for the position.
- As a general rule, UMass will not sponsor H-1B status for part-time employees (some limited exceptions apply).
- Any material change to the H-1B employment, including change in FTE status, job duties, job location or salary must be communicated to the IPO before the change becomes effective. An amendment to a current H-1B petition may be required for such changes and is not guaranteed
- The sponsoring UMass department must pay all necessary IPO and United States Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) application fees. The international employee may not pay for any of the standard H-1B application fees.
- Because UMass is an academic institution and thus a non-profit entity, H-1B employees of UMass are not subject to the nationwide H-1B numerical limitation (“H-1B Cap”) and may apply for H-1B status on behalf of an employee at any time of the US fiscal year
- Upon application, United States Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) makes the final determination of the petitioner’s eligibility for H-1B status.
Additional information on H-1B immigration can be found on the USCIS government site.