The H-1B visa is the most common temporary work visa found in higher education and must be sponsored by Georgia College.
The H-1B is a “specialty occupation” category that most colleges and universities use to employ international residents. A specialty occupation is an occupation that requires the "theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge; and the attainment of a bachelor's or higher degree in a specific specialty (or it's equivalent) as a minimum for entry into the occupation in the United States." The Department of Labor places more emphasis on the discipline of the degree that meets the regulations rather than just a ‘bachelor’s degree or higher’. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) requires Georgia College to prove that both the position and the new faculty member meet all criteria under the definition of ‘specialty occupation’. There is a wage requirement that must be met. Georgia College is required to pay the higher of either the prevailing wage or the actual intended wage. The procedures to filing H-1B petitions are:
- Obtain Prevailing Wage determination from the Department of Labor;
- File the Labor Condition Application (ETA 9035) with the Department of Labor;
- Complete and submit all portions of the I-129 form, a copy of the ETA 9035 approval, and supporting documents to USCIS.
Length of Stay
This visa is granted for an initial period of three (3) years and can be renewed for up to an additional three (3) years. The maximum allowance is six (6) years. If the foreign national has had an H-1B with another employer prior to coming to GC, this time counts toward the six year total. After six years, if the international employee has not been approved for permanent residency, s/he must leave and reside outside the US for a minimum of twelve months to be eligible for a new H-1B visa.
Changes of Employment
All changes of employment for the foreign national holding the H-1B must be reported to the OLA BEFORE the change occurs. Any substantial changes in the H-1B's employment at GC (such as new location, different duties, change in title, change in source or amount of salary, etc.) that occur after the H-1B is approved require immediate notification to HR and the Office of Legal Affairs. USCIS regulations require the employer to notify USCIS of such changes. In some cases, a new LCA will have to be filed with the Department of Labor to maintain legal status.
Filing fee's for H-1B petitions are paid by Georgia College. These fees are for filing Form I-129, Petition for a Non-Immigrant worker - $460, and the Anti-Fraud and Detection Fee - $500.
The Request for Premium Processing (Form I-907) is $1,225 and is subject to university approval. If this is requested on behalf of the foreign national for convenience and is not work related, s/he is responsible for this fee. They will need to provide OLA a personal check to cover the fee when the petition is submitted.
H-1B visa holders are considered ―resident aliens for tax purposes and are subject to FICA (Social Security and Medicare withholding) and therefore are eligible for the same tax rates, exemptions and deductions as US citizens. Specific rules and filing requirements may apply.
Traveling with an H-1B Visa
If you are making a trip outside the United States, you will need the following to re-enter the U.S.
- Original Form I-797A (H-1B Approval Notice for your current position);
- Letter from GC confirming current employment in the position described in the H-1B petition; and
- Valid H-1B visa stamp in your passport. If you do not have a valid H-1B visa stamp in your passport, you must apply for one at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad.
Any international employee planning to travel outside the United States MUST notify the OLA at least two weeks PRIOR to the date of travel.