The H-1B Specialty Occupation Category is used for paid positions of a specialty nature, and is the most common work visa UMass Lowell will employ to “sponsor” an otherwise eligible international employee. An applicant must have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in the field the job is in, and UMass Lowell must pay the government-defined prevailing wage for the position as determined by the Department of Labor.
The H-1B is the visa category most used for long-term faculty positions or tenure-track positions. The maximum amount of time on H-1B status is six years, with a maximum initial period of three. Concurrent employment is permitted, but each employer must apply for a separate H- 1B petition. Dual intent is allowed in H-1B status (i.e., person can intend to immigrate to US when applying for H-1B status).
The H-1B approval is employer and position specific. Individuals already in the U.S. wishing to change from another non-immigrant category to H-1B or who are already in H-1B status at a different employer, will require UMass Lowell HR approval as well as subsequent USCIS approval before the employment start date.
There are significant processing and government filing fees associated with the preparation and filing of an H-1B petition. The employer is responsible for the cost of the petition, and employee is responsible for all dependent related costs, as well as any visa application and port of entry fees for themselves and their dependents, when applicable. Depending on the position offered to the prospective employee will dictate who within the University at large will be required to pay the aforementioned fees.
Should you have any questions related to UMass Lowell’s H-1B policies and practice, or if you are a prospective employee who may require H-1B visa sponsorship, please contact Patrick Trouve, HR Immigration & Compliance Specialist by email: Patrick_Trouve@uml.edu. This process is very involved, requiring a great deal of information and documentation to move along, and could take several months to ultimately obtain an approval. Please plan accordingly, contacting our office appropriately.
H-1B Grace Period - Effective January 2017, H-1B visa holders may have up to a 60-day grace period if their H-1B employment is terminated. This grace period can be used to find a new employer, change visa status or depart the US to avoid being considered “out of status”. The grace period starts as of the termination of employment, and can be for up to 60 days or the end date listed on their last I-94 record, whichever is shorter. There is no grace period beyond the date listed on their last I-94. Check with an immigration attorney before remaining in the US any longer than 10-days beyond the expiration date of your H-1B approval notice or beyond your employment termination date, whichever comes first.
H-4 Dependents (spouse or children under 21 years of age) are generally not permitted to apply for work authorization. However, H-4 visa holders are eligible to engage in either part-time or full-time study in the US. H-4 students are not eligible for any employment, even if related to their studies unless they have a valid employment authorization card. H-4 dependents are also advised to check with an immigration attorney before acceptance of any financial scholarships or with any other dependent related questions. H-4 dependent immigration benefits are associated with H-1B maintaining legal status.