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Sponsor H-1B Temporary Workers

H-1B temporary workers are eligible for professional positions that require specialized training. The H-1B temporary worker visa allows foreign nationals to work in the United States in specialty occupations for a period of up to six years. Each application can be made for a period of up to three years.

The application must be filed by the employer; the worker cannot file the application. Our website has a wealth of information for international faculty and staff.

Further extensions are possible, if Cornell has filed an employment-based permanent petition before year five of a temporary worker’s H-1B status ends.

H-1Bs for Academic Positions 

Cornell will file H-1B petitions only for academic positions. In most cases, these positions require a Ph.D. Refer to the list of approved academic titles.  

In rare cases, Cornell may waive the academic position policy. Waivers to hire nonacademic workers may only be requested by a temporary worker’s hiring unit or department. Get the waiver request form here. The prospective H-1B employee may not request a waiver of the policy.

How to Apply for H-1B 

  1. Get App
  2. Initiate App
  3. Submit App
  4. Get Decision

1Get the application.

2 Initiate the application (hiring unit).

The hiring unit assembles and submits the H-1B department application materials. The H-1B applicant is then prompted to submit their portion of the application materials.

3 Submit the application (Office of Global Learning). 

When all application materials are received, International Services determines the H-1B prevailing wage, based on the U.S. Department of Labor regulations and the hiring unit’s Actual Wage statement (submitted with the application materials). If necessary, we submit a Prevailing Wage Request to the Department of Labor. Once the actual or prevailing wage has been determined, we submit a labor condition application (LCA) to the Department of Labor. If the LCA is approved by the DOL, we submit the H-1B petition to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). 

4 Receive the decision.  

USCIS reviews the case. When the case is approved, we will notify you (the hiring unit) and the applicant. This part of the process may take two to six months, depending on current federal processing times and whether an expedited processing fee is paid.

Timing of Application

Please note that we cannot guarantee that a H-1B petition will be approved by any specific date. We can only provide estimates of the timing involved. 

When to apply 

  • The Office of Global Learning recommends starting the H-1B application exactly six months in advance of a proposed H-1B start date.
  • Applications cannot be submitted sooner, per U.S. Department of Labor regulations. (Please do not submit an H-1B application more than six months ahead of the proposed H-1B start date.)

Expedited Processing

There is a premium processing option that reduces the federal government’s processing time for H-1B visas. This option requires payment of the premium processing fee ($2,500 payable by check or money order to the Department of Homeland Security) and guarantees a response within 15 days of the petition being received by the federal government. This fee is in addition to the $460 standard fee and must be a separate check.  

Keep in Mind

  • The expedited service only covers the USCIS processing time. It does not provide any mechanism for expediting a prevailing wage request or LCA with the U.S. Department of Labor.
  • An approved LCA is required before submission of the H-1B petition can be made to USCIS.  
  • If USCIS decides that more information is required and sends a request for evidence (RFE), the 15-day clock begins again when USCIS receives the requested additional evidence.  
  • Even with these limitations, the expedited service can cut filing times considerably. 

Release of Controlled Technology 

Export Administration Regulations (EAR) and International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) determine whether a license is required from the U.S. Department of Commerce or the U.S. Department of State to allow an international employee access to controlled technology or technical data.

What You Need to Know 

Change of Status 

When the applicant is changing from another visa status to H-1B, he or she may not begin employment until an H-1B approval notice has been received from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. 

The applicant may not travel outside the United States until the H-1B is approved. In some cases, applicants may wish to pay for expedited processing if immediate travel is necessary.

Extension of Status 

Applications for H-1B extensions have the same application requirements as new H-1B petitions.

Important Details

  • With extensions of H-1B status, Cornell may be able to employ the individual for 240 days while the extension case is pending with USCIS. 
  • In addition, H-1B workers may travel during the extension, if their current H-1B approval and visa are valid at the time of reentry to the United States. 

Portability 

The portability provision enables an H-1B worker already in the United States to change to a different job while preserving his/her legal status.

Inform the Office of Global Learning if you have a portability case ...

  • H-1B petitions are not transferable between employers.
  • If an applicant decides to change employers, he or she must begin the entire process again.
  • An applicant who is already in H-1B status may begin working at their new employer as soon as an official receipt of the filing the new H-1B application is received. Final approval from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is not required for the employment to begin, only the issuance of the receipt notice.

Concurrent Employment 

H-1Bs may have more than one H-1B petition active—in other words, more than one H-1B employer. Each employer files its own H-1B specific to the job and duties the H-1B temporary worker will have at that place of employment. 

Please let the Office of Global Learning know if your temporary worker has an H-1B somewhere besides Cornell, if the additional H-1B is concurrent with the Cornell position. 

Reimbursement for Non-Cornell Activities

In a 1994 letter, the INS Office of Adjudications (now U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services) stated: "H-1B workers are permitted to make occasional lectures at other institutions, but they may not receive compensation for these activities. H-1B workers may be reimbursed for expenses incurred in connection with travel to other institutions or conferences. This is not considered employment, as long as the payments are truly reimbursements and not disguised as compensation." (Interpreter Releases, No. 658) 

Travel and Reentry 

When traveling outside the United States, H-1B temporary workers will need a valid visa stamp in their passport to reenter the United States.

Important Details

  • Workers who have changed their immigration status to H-1B since entering the United States and have not yet traveled abroad will need to apply for an  H-1B visa stamp in their passport to reenter the United States. Find out more. 
  • Others may have an expired visa in their passport and will need to have the H-1B visa stamp renewed.
  • In cases of travel to Canada or Mexico, it may be possible to reenter the United States with an expired H-1B visa. 

Dependents

Dependents of H-1B visa holders are eligible for H-4 status.

  • H-4s are not authorized to accept employment.
  • However, H-4 visa holders may apply to change their visa status to H-1B, if they find an employer who is willing to file a petition on their behalf.  

No "Benching" and Early Termination 

H-1B regulations prohibit the practice known as benching.

What You Need to Know

  • Once the H-1B applicant has arrived to begin employment, pursuant to an H-1B approval notice, Cornell may not place that worker in unpaid or nonproductive status (which is "benching").
  • Additionally, Cornell must provide return transportation for any H-1B worker terminated prematurely.
  • If an H-1B worker leaves Cornell employment sooner than expected, please contact the Office of Global Learning with the details.
 

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