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H-1B Temporary Worker Classification

The H-1B classification is an employment-based immigration status established by US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to employ international employees with specialized training. The four-step application process requires attestations and approvals from the US Department of Labor (DOL) as well as US Citizenship and Immigration Services. Because of the complicated and time consuming nature of an H-1B application, the H-1B classification is generally only considered a viable category for long-term, full-time employment if the J-1 classification is not an option.

To qualify for the H-1B classification, the prospective position must require a minimum of a Bachelor's degree in a specialized area and the prospective employee must have attained a minimum of Bachelor's degree or the equivalent in a directly related field. Boston University submits an application on behalf of the employee and can request a maximum authorization of three years depending on the length of the academic appointment. In addition, DOL regulations require that the institution meet or exceed a determined minimum prevailing wage and that the employee be compensated with employment benefits equivalent to that of any other employee in the same position and level. Boston University policy restricts H-1B sponsorship to long-term teaching and research positions. Requests for exceptions to the policy must be submitted in writing to the Office of the Provost on the Charles River Campus.

To initiate processing, the host department must obtain an official academic appointment on behalf of the international scholar through the standard appointment channels at the school or college and follow the instructions on the appropriate Scholar Processing Checklist for H-1B. It is recommended that the department consider the ISSO processing estimates when requesting an academic appointment and completing the international scholar request forms. The department must supervise the completion of the necessary request forms. The forms must be submitted to the ISSO with all supporting documentation at least six months prior to the anticipated start of employment. The ISSO must receive all required documentation before processing can commence.

USCIS currently requires at least five months to evaluate and approve a pending H-1B application. Therefore, the department must plan in advance when hiring an international employee in H-1B classification. The department can choose to pay a $1,225 fee to USCIS to expedite the application. However, this service known as Premium Processing does not affect the time ISSO needs to process the initial steps of the application. Regardless of the type of service requested, once USCIS approves the application, the ISSO will forward the approval notice to the prospective employee. He/she must apply for an H-1B visa at a US Embassy or Consulate that will enable the scholar to enter the US and commence employment.

Once the H-1B employee arrives in the US, he/she must report to the ISSO within three days from the start of employment. Boston University is required to monitor the employment of the H-1B employee as well as the activities of their H-4 dependent family members throughout their stay in the US. The H-1B authorization only allows for employment in the position specified on the original H-1B application submitted to USCIS. In addition, the international H-1B employee must agree to adhere to all H-1 immigration regulations, notify the ISSO and USCIS with any changes in residential address, inform the ISSO of any changes to the activity and location of H-4 dependent family members and consult with an ISSO staff member prior to departing the US.

The H-1B classification is salary, location, job description, title and employer specific. Therefore, the department member supervising the international scholar must contact the ISSO to initiate an amended petition prior to any changes to the employee's activities including, but not limited to, changes in employment, remuneration, location of employment, duration of appointment, change in immigration status and termination of activity. Failure to comply with these regulations may jeopardize the lawful immigration status of the visitor, his/her family as well as Boston University's ability to sponsor international scholars in the future.


Key Steps Required for H-1B Processing


Processing Step

Estimated Time Required 1

ISSO Review

1.  ISSO completes Initial Review of department request

1-2 weeks

US Department of Labor (DOL)

2.  ISSO obtains Prevailing Wage Determination from US Department of Labor Washington DC Service Center

4 weeks

3.  ISSO prepares Posting Notice

4.  Hiring Department confirms posting

1 week

5.  DOL certifies Labor Condition Application (LCA)

1-2 weeks

US Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS)



6.  ISSO prepares petition and mails it to USCIS

1 week 2

7.  USCIS Adjudicates petition

Regular Processing -

Varies based on academic cycle - Estimated 12 weeks 3

Premium Processing - up to 15 days 4
TOTAL Time Estimated (Employee in US - extend, amend, change employer):

8-10 weeks

(2-3 months)

TOTAL Time Estimated (Employee in US change immigration status):

20-22 weeks

(5-6 months)

US Department of State (DOS)

8.  Prospective or returning employee who is out of the US makes appointment at a US Embassy or Consulate abroad to apply for an H-1B visa to travel to the US

4 weeks (longer possible in cases of federal security clearance delays)


9.  New employee with initial H-1B petition and approval H-1B visa may enter the US a maximum of 10 days in advance of H-1B start date


I-9 Compliance

10.  New/continuing employee must complete a new I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification with ISSO within 3 days of employment start/extension date


TOTAL Time Estimated (Employee out of US, including approved extensions to permit international travel)

24-26 weeks

(6-7 months)


1  Departments are advised to allow ample time for ISSO processing. The estimated processing times outlined above represent a standard case. Delays are possible due to incomplete or incorrectly-filed requests, changes to the proposed employment conditions, heavy case volume, technical errors, system failures, vacation times or holiday closures, etc.

2  Petitions for initial H-1B sponsorship (including petitions requesting change of immigration status for a person already in the US) require USCIS approval of the petition completion of Step 7 above before the prospective employee can commence or continue BU employment).Petitions for extension of H-1B status or H-1B change of employer (for a person holding lawful H-1B status and continuing active paid employment) must be received by the USCIS completion of Step 6 above before the expiration of status (or the end date of active H-1B employment in good standing with a prior employer), provided the employee does not have plans to travel abroad until the case is adjudicated by USCIS.As the timing of each case can be quite complex, departments must discuss the details of timing with the ISSO staff person handling the specific case.

3  H-1B cases for universities are currently adjudicated by a designated unit at the USCIS California Service Center. This CSC unit attempts to adjudicate cases within a 12 week period. This time may be shorter or longer based on case volume, which typically follows the academic cycle. Longer processing times are expected for cases submitted in late spring and summer.


4   While most standard immigration sponsorship fees are centrally funded and paid directly by the ISSO, the Premium Processing fee of $1,225 must generally be covered by the hiring department.

Click here to view the Processing Checklist and download required forms



Boston University
October 21, 2011

Boston University International Students & Scholars Office October 21, 2011