General Information about H-1Bs
UC Davis sponsors scholars for H-1B visa status at the request of the hiring department. Generally, UC Davis sponsors H-1B employment for full-time research and teaching positions that meet the prevailing wage requirement indicated by the Department of Labor (DOL). The H-1B is an employment visa category which requires approvals from DOL and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS), under the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The H-1B is used for specialty occupations, which require a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in a specific field. The employee must have the specific degree in the specific field required, or the foreign equivalent.
Processing times fluctuates continuously at USCIS, depending on the time of year and other factors. On average, H-1B cases filed under regular processing take two to four months for approval from the date they are filed. Occasionally, this time can be as short as one month or as long as six months. This is considered “normal processing,” without taking into account any “Request for Evidence” (RFE) that could come from USCIS if they require further information on a case.
A prospective H-1B can be filed as a change of status, change of employer, or extension inside the U.S. However, if the H-1B employee is coming directly from abroad, or if a current H-1B travels abroad and needs an H-1B visa, there are several factors to consider. Since the visa can only be requested after an H-1B status is approved and an I-797 approval notice is received, the additional time to apply for an H-1B visa stamp in the passport while abroad should be factored into the total time it takes for the H-1B petition to be filed and approved in the U.S.
If the employee plans to apply for an H-1B visa abroad, visa processing time is a consideration. Depending on the employee’s area of expertise, the visa could potentially be delayed for a technology export check, a security clearance check, or both. It is important for H-1B visa holders to be aware of the processing times at the U.S. Embassy where they will apply, as well as any specific procedures at that embassy. A Technology or Security check can delay visa issuance from a few days to a few months. Unfortunately, if the U.S. Embassy decides to conduct either type of check, there is no way to expedite the process and no way to predict how long it will take. Besides planning ahead as far in advance for your application, you should also consult the U.S. State Department's website for Visa Wait Times - for Interview Appointments and Processing, which lists each embassy's current wait time for the Nonimmigrant Visa Interview Appointment and Nonimmigrant Visa To Be Processed.
The processing of an H-1B request is complex and involves analysis of various factors, including factors such as timing, degree level, job description and salary. The information below is general information and does not necessarily reflect the more in-depth analysis of more complex cases. In addition, SISS cannot guarantee that a case that is filed will also be approved, though we will inform departments of any concerns in advance. In the very rare case that an H-1B request or H-1B visa is denied, none of the fees involved are refundable.
1. H-1B eligibility
Please contact SISS, if you have any questions regarding H-1B sponsorship eligibility. Note that prospective employees who have been in any J status in the past and are subject to the two-year home residency requirement, 212(e), are not eligible for an H-1B unless they fulfilled the requirement or received a 212(e) waiver approval.
We may file a new H-1B petition with US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) as early as 6 months before the requested H-1B employment start date.
2. SISS iGlobal database
iGlobal enables UC Davis departments to electronically submit H-1B requests to SISS. Departmental eForms and scholar eForms will be independently completed by departments and scholars. Checks for governmental processing fees have to be dropped off at or mailed to our office separately. Please ensure that the name of the scholar is listed in the notes section of the check attachment. If a scholar’s family members need to apply for a change of status to H-4, their completed original Form I-539 with the check for USCIS processing also have to be directly submitted to our office.
Department contacts have to obtain access authorization by SISS. If you do not have access, please follow these steps:
3. New H-1B requests for employees who are either outside the U.S., or in the U.S. as a H-1B with a different employer or in a different visa status and planning to change status to H-1B
Log in to iGlobal and complete the H-1B New or Change of Employer eForm request. The eForm request also contains information about the H-1B process steps, timelines and fees. Please allow a minimum of 6-8 weeks for SISS processing.
4. H-1B requests for extension or amendment of a current position
Log in to iGlobal and complete the H-1B Extension or Amendment eForm request. The eForm request also contains information about the H-1B process steps, timelines and fees. Please allow a minimum of 6-8 weeks for SISS processing.
5. No matter which type of H-1B request is submitted
Departments need to have the principal investigator or supervisor for the employee complete an export control I-129 Attestation Form (and Supplement to I-129 Attestation, if applicable). The iGlobal Export Control eForm includes the UC Davis Office of Research weblink to download this form. After completion it must be uploaded with the H-1B eForm request.
6. Once SISS receives an H-1B eForm request that is accurate and complete
SISS evaluates the submitted information about the proposed H-1B position to determine the prevailing wage. In certain instances, a SISS advisor will contact the department if the wage appears to be insufficient.
If the prevailing wage is approved, SISS will file a Labor Condition Application (LCA) online with the Department of Labor (DOL). It takes 8 calendar days to have an LCA certified and there is no way to speed this process or file an H-1B without the certified LCA.
7. Once the LCA is certified
SISS will submit a complete H-1B petition to the USCIS. The department will be notified by email when a receipt for the case is received, and again when the case is approved.
8. If an H-1B approval is needed in less than 4 months
SISS strongly recommends using the USCIS premium processing option. To do this, the department must submit an additional check to “Department of Homeland Security” for $1,410. SISS will file the petition with a premium processing request form and the case would then be adjudicated by USCIS within 15 calendar days, unless there is a Request for Additional Evidence (RFE). For this option, check “yes” on the USCIS Fees & Premium Processing eForm in iGlobal. Information about all other governmental fees is also listed on this eForm.
Update (May 2019): Due to current USCIS H-1B processing times of 8-10 months, petitions have to include premium processing. However, processing times fluctuate and may decrease in the future, please contact SISS for questions.
9. When the H-1B is approved, the department will be notified
The approval notice and a copy of the petition should be picked up promptly at SISS. If the prospective H-1B is not in the U.S., all documents must be sent by FedEx to the individual abroad. In general, the department will need the approval notice to update payroll and/or tax papers, as well as renew an I-9 form. For this final step, the department should contact Payroll Services with any questions.