Hiring an H-1B Worker

H-1B visas allow employers to temporarily hire workers for jobs that require highly specialized knowledge.

The position must require at least a bachelor’s degree in a specific field of study. Jobs that don’t require a degree in a specific field (i.e. Liberal Arts or a wide range of fields), do not qualify for H-1B specialty worker status.

There is an annual cap that limits the number of new H-1B petitions that can be approved each year. H-1B petitions for employment at UC are exempt from the cap.

Application Process

The application process for hiring an international visitor on H-1B specialty worker status is a cooperative effort between the hiring department, UC International Services and the H-1B beneficiary.

Please review our policy for requesting H-1B petition processing to understand the timelines required by UC International Services. The H-1B process is time consuming. Normal USCIS processing time is 90-120 days if everything goes smoothly, but can take as long as 8 months. Start the process early.

When advertising the faculty position, departments need to be very specific about the qualifications posted and the language used in the posting. Learn more about advertising requirements.

UC must also attest that, for the entire period of employment, the wage paid to the H-1B specialty worker will be the greater of:

  1. The actual wage rate paid to workers at the place of employment with similar skills and qualifications in the occupational classification in question. Factors including education, work experience, job responsibilities and function, specialized knowledge and other legitimate business factors may be taken under consideration to substantiate higher wages paid to similarly situated workers.
  2. The prevailing wage level for the occupational classification in the area of intended employment as established by the US Department of Labor. We must pay at least 100% of the Prevailing Wage Determination.

Ensure that the prospective H-1B employee will be paid at least the average of what others in the department with similar duties, skills and qualifications make.

The Prevailing Wage Determination (PWD) is based upon a comparison between UC’s requirements as to the degree, training, skills and work experience and the requirements considered by the US Department of Labor to be normal for the occupation. DOL processing time varies greatly, from one week to two months.

All H-1B requests should be submitted electronically by the hiring department through iBearcatsGlobal. To submit an H-1B request:

  1. Click on the "Administrative Services for University Departments" link and use the "Departmental Services."
    1. If you don’t have iBearcatsGlobal access, learn how to request it
  2. If the future worker is not already a UC employee or student, add the employee into the system
  3. Click the "H-1B Employee Application" link to start the process and submit documentation from the department.
  4. The employee will also need to provide requested information.

The hiring Department must submit the following documents to UC International:

  1. A letter signed by the Head of the Department or Dean of the College indicating the following:
    • Asking UC International to begin paperwork for the H-1B petition.
    • The dates of the employment requested for the H-1B appointment, salary and brief description of the job duties.
    • Why this candidate was selected for the job. The explanation should include items such as education, experience, special knowledge, background, etc, which justify hiring him/her over other candidates.
    • That the department agrees to comply with all terms of the LCA until the end date and furnish return trip airfare home if the employee's employment is terminated before the end date on the I-129 application.
    • Contact our office for a sample letter.
  2. A check (from the University), made payable to the Department of Homeland Security for the I-129 filing fee.
  3. A check made payable to the Department of Homeland Security for $500.00 must be submitted if it is a "new" petition. 
    1. A "new" petition would include someone being hired at UC for the first time or someone who currently holds another nonimmigrant status (J-1, F-1) and wants to change status to H-1B. 
    2. This fee does not apply to H-1B extension petitions for individuals currently working at UC. 
    3. The hiring department must pay this fee when applicable and use a separate check.
  4. If premium processing (USCIS processing time of 15 calendar days) is requested, an additional fee must be submitted
    1. This fee must be paid by the hiring department if a quick approval is needed for business reasons. 
    2. If the need for premium processing is due to the employee’s personal reasons, he/she may pay the fee and must attest to the need for premium processing.
  5. A "Checklist for Export Control Issues For Hiring International Workers" form. The form will need to be certified at the Department/Division Head level.

The request for payment must be made on a purchase requisition. In such cases, departments must let the purchasing department know that they want the check sent back to them. The check should not be sent directly to the Department of Homeland Security.

  1. If the position is a dual position that provides teaching for the COM and clinical services for UC Physicians, Inc., both UC and UCP are required to provide separate materials, as described in 1-6 above. In addition, UCP needs to provide a $750 processing fee payable to the University of Cincinnati. The COM staff member coordinating the UC piece of the petition will need to collect the documents from UCP and submit them with the H1-B request.
  2. If the position is a dual position that provides teaching for COM and clinical services for UCP the Information About the Position form must be completed and attached to the request.
  3. If the H-1B specialty worker will be providing patient care or receiving clinical training, a license to practice medicine in the State of Ohio is required and must be submitted with all Step I documents.
  4. If the H-1B specialty worker will be providing patient care and is not a graduate of an American medical program, evidence that the H-1B specialty worker passed the Federal Licensing Examination (FLEX) or the U.S. Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) Parts I, II and III or the National Boards of Medical Examiners Certifying Examinations, Parts I, II and III must be submitted with all Step I documents.

After receiving the request and all required documents, UC International will

  1. Obtain a Prevailing Wage Determination (PWD) from the US Department of Labor. 
    • Once UC International Services receives the PWD from the State we will contact the hiring department if there is a wage problem. 
    • A PWD is not required if the position is covered by AAUP.
  2. Obtain a Certified Labor Condition Application (LCA) from the US Department of Labor. 
    • For non-union positions, the LCA will be sent to the hiring department for posting (10 consecutive business days, 2 locations). 
    • The hiring department will be required to complete a memo indicating the dates and locations of the postings. Do not include holidays in the 10 day calculation.
    • For union positions, the LCA will be provided to the AAUP. 
    • A copy will also be provided to the hiring department, but the department need not post the notice. 
    • US DOL LCA processing time is 7 calendar days.
  3. Complete and sign the I-129, and provide a preaddressed mailing envelope to the USCIS. 
    • The beneficiary or a departmental staff member will be contacted to make an appointment with UC International Services for final processing of the petition when the LCA is returned certified from the Department of Labor.

UC International Services will contact the hiring department/beneficiary when approval from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is received. The beneficiary must report to UC International Services with his/her passport to complete the International Visitor’s interview sheet before beginning employment at UC.

Please be prepared for this process to take three to four months, for collection of necessary letters, documents, etc. and processing time at USCIS.

Policy for Requesting H-1B Peition Processing

This policy has been drafted to make clear the processing times associated with the submission of H-1B employment petitions to UC International Services (UCIS) for purposes of hiring international faculty and staff.

H-1B visas are complex applications and require as many as three different approvals from the Department of Labor (DOL) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS), depending on individual circumstances, before an employee can begin or continue working for the University of Cincinnati. It is imperative that each hiring department understands its obligations to adhere to the below-stated timelines and avoid last-minute filings.

Further, the hiring department has an obligation to submit compliant H-1B requests to avoid wasted time and effort for everyone involved. Our office provides detailed guidance as to information and documentation required for H-1B sponsorship, which the hiring department must use.

Under normal circumstances, employment petitions take multiple months to process from initial review through submission and approval by DHS. UCIS recommends that H-1B requests be submitted 6 months in advance of the needed start date. This represents the earliest date DHS will begin to consider an employment petition with a future start/extension date. It is understood that it is often difficult for a department to file a petition that far in advance, at least for new hires. However, that is the filing date that should be striven for whenever possible, and there is no reason why this timeline can’t be met for most extensions.

The caseload for UCIS is at critical mass. Timely requests must be filed, and the submissions being made by hiring units and the prospective or current employee must be accurate and complete. Late submissions (those that require fast processing) will no longer be accommodated for any reason. Submissions with inaccurate or missing documents will not be considered complete until all data is accurate and all required documents are attached.

Historically, most H-1B petitions have not been submitted timely, with many being submitted only a few weeks before the desired start date. In addition, many submitted requests have shown minimal attention to detail when supplying required information or supporting documents. Submissions have routinely contained conflicting information or missing documentation.

The below filing timelines will be strictly adhered to and enforced. Departments making offers that do not meet these timelines must consult with UCIS about revised hire dates before submitting an H-1B request in our iBearcatsGlobal system. It should also be stressed that these timelines are minimum guidelines. We encourage units to submit H-1B requests as soon as possible.

Minimum Timelines for Requests

The below timelines are the absolute minimum timeframes that must be adhered to and will be calculated starting from the point at which our office has received the completed and compliant series of H-1B eForms in our iBearcatsGlobal system and all required supporting documentation. No exceptions will be made to these timelines.

Hiring units must consult with UCIS when desired start dates do not meet these timelines. In such cases, the affected employee’s arrival may be delayed or they may need to leave the U.S. if already in the U.S.

The following timeframes assume that the sponsoring Department/Division is willing to sign a Wage Attestation indicating understanding of the risk being taken by not waiting on the PWD from the DOL for a non-AAUP position. Where an (*) is indicated, the below processing times assume premium processing will be requested ($2,500 fee). If premium processing is not requested, the approval will take multiple months longer.

Start date requested should not be less than 4 months from the date a complete and compliant H-1B request (including supporting documents from Dept. and employee) is submitted in iBearcatsGlobal.

UC International Services cannot control consulate/embassy visa processing times. Some hires may not arrive by the desired start date even if everything is timely filed.

Start date requested should not be less than 3 months from the date a complete and compliant H-1B request (including supporting documents from department and employee) is submitted in iBearcatsGlobal.

Start date requested should not be less than 2 months from the date a complete and compliant H-1B request (including supporting documents from department and employee) is submitted in iBearcatsGlobal.

The prospective employee should not determine the end date of employment with the current employer until advised to do so by UC International Services. Failure to do so could result in the loss of eligibility for portability and the employee having to leave the U.S.

Requested start date should not be less than 3 months from the date a complete and compliant H-1B request (including supporting documents from department and employee) is submitted in iBearcatsGlobal.

Requested start date should not be less than 3 months from the date a complete and compliant H-1B request (including supporting documents from department and employee) is submitted in iBearcatsGlobal.

After Hire

An applicant may not begin work at the University of Cincinnati until an H-1B is approved for UC. If at any time during the period of authorized employment, you wish to relocate or change the title or duties of an H-1B specialty worker, a new H-1B petition will need to be submitted to USCIS prior to making the change.

H-1B non-immigrants may change jobs or employers upon the filing of a new petition by the new employer as long as the individual is in lawful H-1B status at the time of filing and has not engaged in any unauthorized employment since his or her last lawful admission. Prior to the filing of such an application, the prospective employee must complete the attestation provided with these instructions. The employee cannot begin working at UC until the USCIS receipt notice is received.

H-1B specialty workers have a maximum stay of 6 years no matter how many different employers they have. The I-129 petition can request H-1B employment in increments of up to three years. There is no minimum.