H1B Information

H1B Temporary Worker – Policy, Information, and Application

Application Materials

Complete H1B Application Packet - all forms and instructions included [.pdf] | [.doc]

Individual Forms

Cornell Policy

Cornell will file H1B petitions only for academic positions. In almost all cases, these positions require a PhD degree. See the list of approved academic titles. In rare cases, Cornell may waive this policy for H1B workers. If you would like to apply for a waiver for an H1B temporary worker, you may find details about the process for requesting a waiver here. NOTE: waiver of the policy may only be requested by the Hiring Unit/Department. The prospective H1B employee may not request a waiver of the policy.

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Qualifications

Must be a professional position which requires specialized training. The H1B Temporary Worker visa allows foreign nationals to work in the United States in specialty occupations for a period of up to six years (further extensions possible if an employment-based permanent petition has been filed by Cornell before Year Five of H1B status ends). Each application can be made for a period up to three years. The application must be filed by the employer; an individual cannot gain an H1B on his/her own.

Application Procedure

  1. Department Process: Hiring Unit assembles materials for H1B application paperwork. When all materials are collected, entire application packet is submitted to the ISSO (incomplete submissions will not be accepted).
  2. ISSO/Department of Labor (DOL) Process: ISSO determines H1B wage, based on DOL's prevailing wages and Actual Wage Statement submitted by hiring unit. ISSO submits a Labor Condition Application (LCA) to DOL. If LCA approved, H1B petition is submitted to US Immigration and Citizenship Services (USCIS).
    (These 2 processes will take at least 4 to 5 business weeks.)
  3. USCIS/ISSO process: Case is reviewed by USCIS. When case is approved by USCIS, ISSO notifies the applicant and department of approval. This part of the process can be expedited with an additional fee. Without an expedite request ($1225), this part of the process may take many months (2-6), depending on current USCIS processing times.

Timing of Application

Please note that we cannot guarantee that the H1B petition will be approved by any specific date. We can only provide estimates of the timing involved. ISSO recommends that application be made six (6) months in advance of a proposed H1B start date, but they can NOT be submitted sooner, as per DOL regulations. Do not submit an H1B application to the ISSO more than 6 months ahead of the proposed H1B start date.

Expedited Processing Option

If you wish to expedite the H1B petition, there is a premium processing option that will reduce the USCIS processing time. This option requires payment of the premium processing fee ($1225, payable by check or money order to USCIS) and guarantees a response within 15 days for the petition being received by USCIS. This fee is in addition to the $325 standard fee, and must be a separate check. There are a few things to be aware of. First, the expedite service ONLY covers the USCIS processing time. It does not provide any mechanism for expediting a Prevailing Wage Request, or the Department of Labor's LCA. An approved LCA is required before submission of the H1B petition can be made to USCIS. Second, if USCIS decides that more information is required of us and sends a "request for evidence" (RFE), the 15-day clock begins again, once USCIS receives the requested additional evidence. Even with these limitations, the expedite service can cut filing times considerably.

No "Benching" and Termination of Employment

H1B regulations prohibit the practice known as "benching." Once the H1B applicant has arrived to begin employment, pursuant to an H1B approval notice, Cornell may not place that worker in unpaid/nonproductive status. Additionally, Cornell must provide return transportation to the home country for any H1B worker terminated prematurely. If an H1B worker leaves Cornell employment sooner than expected, please contact the ISSO with the details.

Release of Controlled Technology or Technical Data to Foreign Persons in the US

There is a federal requirement that employer’s certify that they have reviewed the Export Administration Regulations (EAR) and the International Traffic in Arms (ITAR) and have determined whether a license is required from The US Department of Commerce or the US Department of State to allow an employee access to controlled technology. This attestation is REQUIRED for all H1B petition and O1 petitions. Please take some time to review the information on US export* controls at Cornell University’s Office of Research Integrity and Assurance.

Changes of Status

When the applicant is changing from another visa status (example, J1 or F1) to H1B he/she MAY NOT begin employment until the H1B approval notice has been received from USCIS. Additionally, the applicant may not travel outside the US until the H1B is approved. In some cases, applicants may wish to pay for expedited processing if immediate travel is necessary.

Extensions of Status

Applications for H1B extension have the same application requirements as for new H1B petitions. With extensions of H1B status, Cornell may be able to employ the individual for 240-days while the extension case is pending with USCIS. In addition H1B workers may travel during the process of an extension if their current H1B approval and visa are valid at the time of re-entry to the US.

Compensation vs. Reimbursement for Non-Cornell Activities

In a April 6, 1994 letter, The INS (now USCIS) Office of Adjudications stated that: "H1B workers are permitted to make occasional lectures at other institutions, but they may not receive compensation for these activities. H1B workers may be reimbursed for for expenses incurred in connection with travel to other institutions or conferences. This is not considered employment, as long as the payments are truly reimbursements and not disguised as compensation." (Interpreter Releases, No. 658)

Change of H1B Employers ("portability")

An approved H1B petition is not transferable between employers. If an applicant decides to change employers, he/she must begin the entire process again. However, an applicant who is already in H1B status may begin working at the new employer as soon as the new H1B application is received by USCIS. Final USCIS approval is not required for the employment to begin, but only the issuance of the USCIS receipt notice.

Dependents

Dependents of H1B visa holders are eligible for H4 status. H4's are not authorized to accept employment. H4 visa holders may apply to change their visa status to H1B if they find an employer who is willing to file a petition on their behalf.

Travel and Re-entry

When traveling outside the United States, H1B Temporary Workers will need a valid visa stamp in their passport to re-enter the United States. Those who changed their immigration status to H1B since entering the United States and have not yet traveled abroad will need to apply for an H1B visa stamp in their passport in order to re-enter the United States. Others may have an expired H1 visa in their passport and will need to have the H1B visa stamp renewed (in cases of travel to Canada or Mexico, it may be possible to re-enter the United States with an expired H1B visa—for more details, please see our page on automatic revalidation).