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Most international scholars who are not in tenure-track positions will visit UCSC as J-1 exchange visitors. For noncitizens who will engage in temporary employment in “specialty occupations,” H-1B work authorization may be appropriate. This visa status is reserved for tenure-track faculty members, temporary faculty, and researchers when J-1 is not appropriate or available. The university will only file H-1B petitions for full-time appointments. The Academic Personnel Office policy on hiring noncitizens can be found here. Contact the H-1B Advisor to determine if this category of work authorization is appropriate.

For initial H-1B applications, it is recommended that departments and division begin the process as close to six months in advance of the intended start date as possible. The H-1B application process is lengthy, and requires documentation from both the department and applicant. Processing times vary depending on the type of petition and may be also be affected by international travel, USCIS adjudication timelines, and multiple factors beyond the control of ISSS.

Timeline for Initial H-1Bs

Beginning with receipt of H-1B application materials from hiring unit

Phase 1 (1-11 weeks)
Prevailing Wage Determination (6-8 weeks : Department of Labor)
For urgent hires, units may be able to request an in-house prevailing wage determination1 (1 day: ISSS)
Checks Requested (1-3 weeks : Hiring Unit)

Phase 2 (2-3 weeks)
Prevailing Wage Review (1 week : Hiring Unit)
Certify Labor Condition Application and Prepare I-129 (1-2 weeks : Department of Labor, ISSS)

Phase 3 (2-12 weeks)
Adjudication (8-12 weeks) – USCIS
Adjudication with Premium Processing2 (2 weeks) - USCIS

For H-1B extensions, amended petitions, and change of employer cases, the timeline is the same. However, for extensions and amended cases, H-1B holders can work for an additional 240 days once their applications have been received by USCIS.

1 Department of Labor (DOL) regulations require employers to pay the prevailing wage, or industry average, for each position. If ISSS obtains a prevailing wage determination directly from DOL, the validity of the determination will not be questioned during an audit. This type of determination gives UCSC “safe harbor,” and generally takes six to eight weeks. It is university policy to manage institutional risk by filing with DOL. In the case of urgent hires, departments can request an exception to policy. Contact your H-1B Advisor for more details.

2 If timing is a critical issue for urgent hires, departments have the option of filing for Premium Processing. Premium Processing guarantees a decision on an H-1B petition within 15 days of the receipt by USCIS of the H-1B application.  The cost of Premium Processing is $1,225 in addition to the regular $460 application fee and a $500 anti-fraud fee for new H-1B applications. Checks are made payable to "Department of Homeland Security," and are ordered using the FAST Direct Payment form.  For open positions currently in the recruitment process, departments can submit Part A of the H-1B application to initiate the prevailing wage request.

Please Note: On April 3, 2017 USCIS will temporarily suspend premium processing service for all H-1B petitions, visit USCIS website for the news release. Matters such as employment start date and international travel may be affected or delayed. 

The hiring unit may request three years of H-1B work authorization at a time, for up to six years (with exceptions).  ISSS can apply for H-1B work authorization up to six months before the anticipated start date. If you will send the H-1B Form electronically, please refer to ITS Practices for Protecting Electronic Restricted Data.