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H-1B Overview

H-1B visa category is for international employees being hired with a professional degree in specialty occupations that require the theoretical or practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge. To be eligible for H-1B status the following conditions for the position, the department and the employee must be met:

The Position:

  • Must be an unclassified position
  • Must require "theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge and attainment of a bachelor's or higher degree in the specific specialty or its equivalent"


The Department:

  • Must agree to pay at minimum, throughout the entire duration of employment, the prevailing wage as approved by the Department of Labor.
  • Must agree to pay for the reasonable costs of return transportation home for the employee, if the employee is dismissed from employment before the end of the authorized period of stay.


International Employee:

  • Must be eligible for H-1B non-immigrant status (eg.:  not subject to the two-year-home-residency requirement from a prior J-1 program, nor have used all 6 years of H-1B eligibility on prior H-1B employment)
  • Must possess " highly specialized knowledge and attain[ed] a bachelor's or higher degree in the specific specialty" of the position


Length of H-1B Work Authorization

Employers may petition for a maximum of three years of H-1B status at a time. H-1B visa regulations allow a worker to hold H-1B status for a maximum of six years. Time that an employee has spent in H-1B status at another employer and time spent in H-4 status deducts from their 6 years of eligibility.


Employment Restrictions

VIS  must receive approval of the H-1B petition from USCIS before employment can begin.

The terms of employment in H-1B status are very specific. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) approves the H-1B program for the specific department, salary, duties, and dates listed on the initial H-1B petition. The H-1B recipient is NOT authorized to change employment without authorization from VIS. This restriction includes changes in position duties, changes in pay rates, and changes of sponsoring departments within SBU. If the department anticipates a change in the research or employment of an H-1B employee, the department should notify VIS immediately, prior to the change in employment.


Extensions of the Program

The host department is responsible for submitting extension requests in accessVIS on behalf of the employee. Applications for extensions should be filed 5 months before the end date of the original program.

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