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H-1B Visa — Temporary Worker in a Specialty Occupation
The H-1B visa allows foreign nationals to work in the United States in specialty occupations. Specialty occupations are essentially professional positions.
The H-1B visa category has the following key requirements:
- Applicant must have theoretical and practical application of a highly specialized body of knowledge
- Applicant must have a minimum of a Bachelor's degree or its equivalent
- U-M must file the H-1B petition; prospective employees cannot obtain H-1B visas on their own
Special Health Care Occupation Requirements
Some health care positions have additional requirements, which are listed below.
|Physicians ||To practice medicine or undergo clinical medical residency or fellowship training in the United States using the H-1B category, foreign medical graduates must meet the following requirements:|
- Passed the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) steps 1, 2 and 3. (NOTE: *FLEX Parts I and II or National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME) Parts I, II and III may be substituted.)
- Demonstrated English language proficiency. (NOTE: Showing an Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates [ECFMG] certificate meets this requirement.)
- Have a full and unrestricted license to practice medicine in a foreign country or have graduated from a medical school in a foreign country. For H-1B purposes, graduates of Canadian medical schools are considered foreign medical graduates (although they are exempt from the English proficiency requirement). Foreign-born graduates of U.S. medical institutions are not considered foreign medical graduates.
- Have a Michigan medical license.
- Physicians of national or international renown may be exempted from the licensing examination and English proficiency requirements if the national or international reputation of the physician is thoroughly documented.
- Alien physicians may teach and conduct research in H-1B status without meeting the licensing exam and English requirements if no patient care is performed, or if it is incidental to the physician's teaching or research.
|Nurses ||In general, registered nurses do not qualify for H-1B status because a bachelor's degree is not a requirement for most nursing positions. |
Nursing supervisors or other specialized nurses may qualify for H-1B status if the position requires a minimum of a Bachelor's degree and the candidate possesses the required degree. In addition, nurses must have a state license and the required certificate from Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools (CGFNS) to hold H-1B status.
|Other Health Care Workers ||Nurses, physical therapists, occupational therapists, medical technicians/technologists, speech/language pathologists, audiologists, and physician assistants must obtain a certificate from the Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools (CGFNS) or an equivalent independent credentialing organization before they are eligible for H-1B status. For more information, please see the CGFNS Visa Credential Screening site. |
Length of Stay in the U.S.
- An individual may generally hold H-1B status for three years at a time, up to a maximum of six years.
- When the foreign national reaches the six-year limit, he or she must leave the U.S. and reside abroad for a period of one year before he or she can obtain H-1B status again.
- The law permits extensions beyond the six-year maximum, but only when certain parts of the permanent residency process are pending for one year prior to the requested H-1B start date.
The H-1B petition and approval process takes approximately four to five months. Since the H-1B process involves multiple government agencies, we cannot guarantee that the H-1B petition will be approved by a specific date. We can only provide estimates of the timing involved based on recent trends.
Labor Condition Applications (which are required for all H-1B petitions) may be filed up to six months in advance of a proposed H-1B start date, but not earlier.
We recommend that departments submit H-1B requests to the International Center six months in advance.
USCIS Expedited Processing Option
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) offers an option for expediting H-1B applications. There is a $1225 fee for the service in addition to the normal USCIS filing fee. For information on the latest H-1B fees, refer to the Fee Schedule for Employment-Based Visas
Expedited processing can reduce H-1B processing time significantly (to approximately 4 weeks). However, you should be aware of the following conditions:
- The expedited service only covers USCIS processing time. It does not provide any mechanism for expediting processing time with the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Growth (MDL and EG) or U.S. Department of Labor.
- The expedited service only promises a response to the petition within 15 days. If USCIS requires additional information, the Request for Evidence (RFE) is considered their response. If USCIS responds with an RFE, the 15-day clock begins again when USCIS receives the additional evidence. Approval is not guaranteed within 15 days.
Departments are responsible for paying the USCIS filing fees and U-M International Center processing fees associated with the H-1B petition. The foreign national is responsible for paying dependent and visa related fees. If the department requires a quick decision from USCIS, the department is responsible for paying the USCIS expedited processing fee; if the foreign national elects USCIS expedited processing for his/her own convenience, s/he is responsible for providing a personal check to cover the fee. For a listing of the latest fees, refer to Fee Schedule for Employment-Based Visas
Departments must pay the U-M International Center case processing fee by University shortcode. The USCIS filing fee must be paid by U-M check made out to Department of Homeland Security and sent to the U-M International Center. For more information, refer to U-M Check Request Process.
Foreign national employees are responsible for paying USCIS filing fees associated with their dependents, and may pay this fee by personal check, certified check, or money order made out to Department of Homeland Security.
How to Apply for an H-1B Visa
- The department downloads and completes the H-1B Process Authorization Form and obtains a signature from a dean, director, or department chair.
- The department faxes the completed form to the U-M International Center at 734.615.2200.
- The U-M International Center initiates the case in INSZoom, and sends electronic questionnaires to the department and to the foreign national to request additional information and to provide a listing of documents that are required.
- The department and the foreign national each complete an electronic questionnaire in INSZoom.
- The U-M International Center obtains the prevailing wage (i.e., the wage paid to others doing similar jobs in this geographic area) and the actual wage (i.e., the wage the department pays others with similar experience and qualifications to do the same job) from the U-M Human Resources and Affirmative Action Compensation department and/or to the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Growth.
NOTE: Departments must pay H-1B employees the prevailing wage or actual wage, whichever is higher.
- The U-M International Center files a Labor Condition Application (LCA) with the U.S. Department of Labor that provides information on the wages, working conditions, and benefits that U-M will provide the H-1B worker. The U-M International Center sends copies of the LCA to the department.
- The department posts the LCA for 10 business days and returns the posted LCA to the U-M International Center.
- The U-M International Center prepares the forms U-M must file with USCIS and emails them to the department for review.
- The department reviews and approves the forms.
- The department obtains U-M checks to cover USCIS filing fees from Accounts Payable. Checks must be made out to the Department of Homeland Security. Please follow the special process for requesting H-1B checks from Accounts Payable.
- The department submits the U-M check to the U-M International Center.
- The U-M International Center assembles the documents, prepares filing and support letters in support of the petition, signs the forms, and submits the case to USCIS via overnight mail.
- USCIS processes the case. This step takes approximately three months. If the department or the foreign national has requested expedited processing and paid the $1225 expedited processing fee, USCIS will respond to the case within 15 calendar days of receipt.
- The U-M International Center receives the USCIS decision on the case and notifies the department and the foreign national of the decision.
Through our web-based, case processing system, INSZoom, we will tell the department and the foreign national the specific documentation needed for the individual case. When sending H-1B documents to us, please keep the following information in mind:
- If documents are not in English, they must be accompanied by a certified translation. To obtain a certified translation, complete a Translation Form for each document that is not in English and return the form to us with your documents.
NOTE: Translations should not be done by the person seeking H-1B status or by those seeking H-4 status.
We do not need originals, but the copies must be clear and easy to read.
- Submit documents on 8x11 whenever possible to save time.
- If the foreign national employee's highest degree is not from a U.S. educational institution, you may need to have a professional credential evaluation performed. Refer to Professional Credential Evaluations Services.
Department Responsibilities: Ensuring H-1B Compliance
Changes in Job Duties
As the hiring department, you are responsible for ensuring that your H-1B employee's job duties remain in compliance with USCIS regulations. Substantial changes in job duties may require the U-M International Center to file an H-1B amendment with USCIS. Substantial changes may include, but are not limited to:
- Changes in job duties, responsibilities
- Changes in appointment percentage
- Decreases in hours, salary, benefits
- Changes in physical location
- Moves to other U-M departments
To report proposed H-1B job changes, please contact the U-M International Center at 734.763-4081, so a specialist can determine whether an amendment is necessary.
The University of Michigan is required to report to the federal government early terminations of H-1B employees. When an H-1B is ending their employment at U-M, departments should email ICfacultystaff@umich.edu the Termination Form before the employee’s final day of work.
Spouses and unmarried children under 21 years of age may obtain H-4 dependent status. When an H-4 dependent child turns 21, he or she is no longer eligible for H-4 status. H-4 dependents are not authorized to work in the U.S., but they may attend academic institutions full- or part-time.
Family Members Outside the U.S.
Family members who reside outside of the U.S. when an H-1B petition is submitted and approved do not need to submit any documents to USCIS to obtain H-4 status. Instead, family members should apply for an H-4 visa stamp at the U.S. consulate overseas. Family members should consult the U.S. Department of State before they visit their consulate to determine which documents their consulate requires to issue an H-4 visa.
Family Members Within the U.S.
Family members who reside within the U.S. and are seeking to extend their H-4 status or change to H-4 status must submit an I-539 Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status to USCIS. The U-M International Center assists dependents with the I-539 if it is submitted to USCIS with the H-1B case. If you have dependents in the U.S. for whom you would like to seek H-4 status, please notify your U-M department administrator before he or she submits your H-1B case to the U-M International Center.
USCIS Address Change Requirement
If you move to a new residence, you must report the change of address to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) within 10 days of the change. This can be done online at USCIS Online Change of Address page. Please have the following information available before you begin:
- Your receipt notice or other notice showing your receipt number (if you have a pending case with USCIS)
- Your new address
- Your old address
- If you have filed a petition for a family member, please have the names and biographical information for that person
- When you last entered the United States (if you cannot remember this information please fill in an approximate date)
- Where you last entered the United States (through what port of entry you entered - whether by land, sea or air)
Last reviewed: 01/13