H-1B FAQ

Please visit the H-1B Specialty Occupation section for general information about the H-1B classification.  This section contains answers to specific H-1B situations. Questions and answers in this section are in no particular topic order. For faster search, we recommend you use the Windows search feature: Ctrl + F keys on the keyboard and enter keywords (i.e. "travel," "extension," "license," etc.)

Q:   What are the department’s responsibilities?

A:  The department is responsible for the following:

  • The H-1B filing fees.
  • Paying the H-1B worker the actual wage paid to employees that are similarly employed and similarly qualified to the H-1B worker within the department, or 100% of the prevailing wage, whichever is higher.
  • Posting the Labor Condition Application in a conspicuous place in the department where it can be easily seen by workers.  Proof of the posting must be returned to the Immigration Specialist at the end of the posting period.
  • Notifying the Immigration Specialist if there are any changes to H-1B workers job duties, salary, FTE, etc.
  • Providing return transportation coverage if the H1-B worker is terminated prior to the expiration of the H1-B petition.
Q:  What is the Labor Condition Application?

A:  A petition for H-1B requires prior certification of the Labor Condition Application (LCA) from the Department of Labor.  The LCA carries the specific H-1B terms of employment and the employer's labor conditions compliance attestations.  Certification of the LCA normally takes seven business days.

Q: Does the H-1B require Labor Certification?

A: No. People commonly confuse the Labor Condition Application (LCA) certification of the H-1B process for the Labor Certification step of certain employment-based green card processes.

Q: Can I travel while the H-1B petition is pending?

A: No, we do not recommend international travel while the H-1B application is in process, as this may delay or otherwise impact the processing of your application.  If you travel outside the U.S. and USCIS approves your petition for “consular approval”, you will be required to travel back outside the U.S. and obtain an H-1B visa stamp in your passport before resuming work.

Q: Is there anything I need from UH before I go on a trip outside the U.S.?

A: You will need a valid H-1B visa sticker in the passport to be able to return to the U.S. in H-1B status. If you already have the visa sticker, you will need to show the CBP agent evidence that you remain employed by UH at the time of return.  This is done by showing paystubs for at least the previous three months (you can obtain them through PASS) and an employment-verification letter (you can obtain it from Human Resources upon request). If you don't have an H-1B visa sticker in the passport, you will need to apply for one at a U.S. embassy or consulate outside the U.S. and you will need to show evidence of your employment with UH as well as the original H-1B approval notice (Form I-797) and a copy of the USCIS-approved H-1B petition packet. A visa application requires more items and you can find out what these are by visiting the website of the U.S. embassy located in the city you will apply in.

Q: Will I have unlawful presence if an application to extend my H-1B status is still pending by the time my current H-1B status expires?

A: As long as the extension petition is filed before the expiration of your current H-1B status, you will maintain lawful presence and H-1B work authorization in the U.S. beyond the expiration date for up to 240 days.  In cases in which the petition is pending for longer than the period of extension requested, you will maintain lawful presence and H-1B work authorization in the U.S. until the requested extension end date.

Q: What evidence of trips abroad is acceptable by USCIS for re-capturing H-1B time?

A: Any evidence that clearly places you outside of the U.S. and then back into the U.S. is acceptable. The preferred evidence is passport stamps for entry into the foreign country and for entry back into the U.S.

Q: I'm changing H-1B employer to UH. Does my dependent (spouse and/or child) need to file an H-4 application with my change of employer petition?

A: Changing H-1B employer does not necessarily require the filing of an H-4 application.  Hwever, you should contact USCIS or an immigration attorney for advise on your dependent's H-4 matters.

Q: I have changed H-1B employer to UH and I have a valid H-1B visa sticker in my passport that lists my previous H-1B employer and case number. Can I use this H-1B visa sticker for re-entry into the U.S. or do I need to get a new one based on my approval with UH?

A: You may use the visa listing your previous H-1B employer and case number while it has not expired. At the time of re-entry into the U.S., you will have to demonstrate your employment with UH by showing the original UH-sponsored H-1B approval notice (I-797A), a copy of the USCIS-approved H-1B petition packet, recent paystubs (which you can obtain through PASS), and an employment-verification letter (which you can obtain from Human Resources upon request).

Q: If I'm changing H-1B employer to UH, when exactly can I begin working for UH?

A: On the date of the change of employer petition filing or on the requested start date, whichever is later. "Date of filing" means the date the USCIS receives the petition; so, as long as we have evidence of delivery confirmation, you are eligible to begin employment on the date of filing and complete the I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification process the date you begin employment.

Q: My driver license is about to expire at the same time as my current H-1B status.  If the pending H-1B extension petition is not approved by then, how can I renew my driver license?

A: The Texas Department of Public Safety needs to see, in addition to other original immigration documents, the original of the H-1B extension receipt notice (Form I-797C) to renew the driver license for a year. Given that DPS staff may not yet be fully aware of this rule because it was recently implemented, we recommend you take with you a copy of Page 5 of the following document: Temporary Visitor Issuance Guide

Q: Is it true that I can extend my H-1B status only once?

A: H-1B status can be requested in increments of up to three years and can be extended in increments of up to three additional years.  H-1B eligibility is normally limited to six years, including H-1B employment with other employers as well as prior stays in L-1 status. In some cases, the worker may extend the H-1B status beyond the six-year limit if he/she has had an employment-based permanent residency application in process for at least 365 days or has an approved I-140 petition.

Q: I'm in the last semester of my PhD degree program and I've been offered a tenure-track faculty position at UH that is contingent upon receiving evidence of completion of all PhD requirements.  Do I need to show such evidence for the H-1B petition filing as well?

A: Yes. If you're completing the program in the U.S., you may begin employment in OPT (with the EAD) while the H-1B petition is processed under the regular processing timeframe. If you're completing the program abroad, the required educational evaluation for U.S.-equivalency will be possible only with evidence of completion of all PhD requirements and thesis/dissertation defense completion.

Q: I'm a staff member at UH and I've been asked to lecture a course at UH on the side. Can I do that with my approved H-1B petition?

A: The first step is to notify the Immigration Specialist of the proposed offer.  He would evaluate whether or not the approved H-1B supports the additional job and, if not, an amendment or concurrent H-1B petition would have to be filed before the lecturing job may begin. It is imperative that any proposed changes to your employment be run by the Immigration Specialist before they go into effect.

Q: Is there a grace a period to find another job once my H-1B employer lays me off?

A: There is no grace period. You are out of status when you stop working.  Talk to an immigration attorney right away.

Q: UH has terminated my employment in H-1B status and I must depart the U.S. with my family. Am I entitled to have transportation expenses covered for me, my family and my belongings?

A: As the H-1B petitioner, UH is liable for reasonable transportation expenses for the H-1B worker's return to his home country or last country of residence.

Q: Am I exempted from paying certain taxes while working in H-1B status?

A: At the time of your hiring, you completed a Foreign National Tax Information Form that was forwarded to the Tax Department at UH to determine what tax benefits, if any, you may be eligible for based on a number of factors, including your immigration status.  If you have changed to H-1B from another status since you were first hired at UH, the Tax Department at UH would send you a form to update your data in their tax system on a yearly basis. For foreign national tax matters, please contact the Foreign National Tax Specialist for UH: Elizabeth Limon, 713-743-8987, elimon@uh.edu

Q: If I've accepted a second job with UH for which a concurrent H-1B petition will be filed, when exactly can I begin working in the second job?

A: On the date of the concurrent petition filing or the requested start date on the petition, whichever is later. "Date of filing" means the date the USCIS receives the petition; so, as long as we have evidence of delivery confirmation, you are eligible to begin employment on the date of filing and complete the I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification process on the date you begin the employment.

Q: I'm currently employed with UH on OPT. How soon can I apply for the H-1B?

A: A petition to change your status from F-1 to H-1B can be filed at any point during the OPT period.  The H-1B validity start date can be before the OPT expires, provided that it is approved by then. Given that it takes 2-3 months (and sometimes longer) for H-1B approval under regular processing timeframe, filing the H-1B petition well in advance increases the chances of H-1B approval by the OPT expiration date.

Q: May I work part-time in H-1B status?

A: Yes; you may work no less than 20 hours per week in H-1B status at UH. Exemptions may be made for instructional assignments.

Q: I'm currently working for UH pursuant to H-1B on a full-time basis, but my department wants to now employ me on a part-time basis. Does my H-1B allow me to change to part-time?

A: The filing of an amendment petition would be required. The changed hours can go into effect no earlier than the date the amendment petition is filed.

Q: I'm currently working for UH pursuant to H-1B on a part-time basis, but my department wants to now employ me on a full-time basis. Does my H-1B allow me to change to full-time?

A: The filing of an amendment petition would be required. The changed hours can go into effect no earlier than the date the amendment petition is filed.

Q: What documentation do I need to provide for the H-1B petition?

A: The Forms section contains the H-1B Employee Checklist-Questionnaire and which lists the types of documents that you would need to provide for the H-1B filing.

Q: When should my department process an H-1B for me?

A: As a rule of thumb, the H-1B petition should be filed as soon as possible.  Please read below for timing depending on the type of filing.

If changing status, you will need H-1B approval to begin working pursuant to H-1B. Regular processing can take from 2 to 6 months depending on which time of the year the petition is filed. Nonetheless, the petition can be expedited at any time.

If extending the H-1B, the petition can be filed no earlier than 6 months of the expiration date and no later that the expiration date. We do not recommend filing the petition too close to the expiration date.

If amending or filing for change of employer or concurrent employment, the petition must be filed before the amendment, change of employer, or concurrent job go into effect.

If you're filing initial H-1B and you're subject to the 212(e) two-year foreign residency rule, you will need to meet the requirement or have it waived before being able to file the H-1B petition.

You also need to have completed the degree required for the position at UH in order to be able to file the H-1B petition.

Filing of an H-1B petition may be delayed by various factors, including the Department of Labor LCA certification (normally takes seven business days); the issuance of the filing check(s); the completion of all degree requirements; the completion of the credentials evaluation; and/or other unforeseen factor.

Q: What happens to my employment if my H-1B petition is not approved by the date my EAD per OPT expires?

A: Your eligibility to work ends when your EAD expires and re-starts on the start date indicated on the H-1B approval notice or the date the H-1B is approved, whichever is later.

Q: Can I work for another organization while I'm employed at UH?

A: Yes, you can, as long a concurrent H-1B employment petition is filed by the petitioner and the concurrent job does not interfere with your UH employment as stated in the UH-sponsored H-1B petition. The H-1B classification allows employment with multiple employers; however, each employer needs to submit an H-1B petition for you.

Q: What if my department wants me to perform work outside of UH premises?

A: Your department needs to notify the Immigration Specialist before the off-site assignment begins. He is responsible for evaluating whether the off-site assignment would require action on your H-1B petition.

Q: Who exactly will prepare my H-1B petition?

A: The Immigration Specialist is responsible for H-1B preparation, filing, and management.

Q: May I hire an attorney to file my H-1B petition?

A: The Immigration Specialist has ample experience and the resources for filing petitions on behalf of UH for no cost to the hiring department or the H-1B worker. A request to have an attorney file your petition would be considered; however, you may have to use the services of an attorney assigned by the Office of General Counsel.

Q: I will be a new UH employee coming from abroad with H-1B visa.  When may I enter the U.S. with my H-1B visa?

A: As early as 10 days prior to the validity start date on your H-1B visa.