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H-1B Employees

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.

Credential Evaluation

A credential evaluation is the procedure that seeks to determine the equivalency of foreign degrees with education in the U.S.  Unless your diploma(s) was earned in the U.S.  USCIS will require that your nonimmigrant worker petition (E-3, H-1B, H-1B1, O-1, and TN) include a credential evaluation report, and they've expressed preference for members of National Association of Credential Evaluation Services (NACES members).  

As you go through the website you will note differences in:

  • prices,
  • levels of service available - Most of the NACES companies will indicate that they have a level of service available that is appropriate for USCIS-related documents.  This will typically include the evaluation, copies of the documents evaluated, and information about the strong qualification of the evaluator;
  • the kinds of documents they are willing to work from (originals? photocopies? transcripts provided directly from your university?)
  • Some may offer a service to translate your documents, others may require that the documents be translated before they can evaluate.

Note that, IF your diploma indicates that you have a degree, BUT your diploma doesn't indicate the field in which you studied specifically (Biology, Physics, etc.), you will need to have  both the diploma and your transcript evaluated, if we will be requesting H-1B status.  

Stony Brook University is not allowed to recommend a specific company.  You will have to select a company and make arrangements with that company to have your educational document(s) translated (as necessary) and evaluated.  This is generally considered to be an “incidental” and personal expense to you, so you will be expected to pay the cost of the services.  

In the end, our office only needs a photocopy or [readable] electronic copy to include with the petition.  The original documents belong to you and may be useful to you in the future to apply for U.S. employment or immigration benefits.