H-1B Visa Information

Who is Eligible

H-1B status is for professionals with a minimum of a bachelor’s degree who will be working in a “specialty occupation”. A specialty occupation requires the “theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge” to perform the occupation, and the attainment of a bachelor’s or a higher degree in the specific specialty as a minimum for entry into the occupation in the U.S. H-1B visas are considered “dual-intent” by USCIS. This means that individuals in H-1B status are eligible to petition for immigrant worker status. UNC Charlotte only sponsors full-time faculty and researchers for H-1B.

General Eligibility Criteria

The Foreign National

Must be eligible for H-1B non-immigrant status (for example, not subject to the two-year-home-residency requirement from a prior J-1 program, nor have used all 6 years of H-1B eligibility on prior H-1B employment).

The Department

Must agree to pay, throughout the entire duration of employment, the higher of either the wage for similarly employed workers at UNC Charlotte or the wage for similarly employed workers in the State of North Carolina, as determined by the Department of Labor.

Must agree to pay for the reasonable costs of return transportation home for the scholar, if the scholar is dismissed from employment before the end of the authorized period of stay.

Length of H-1B Work Authorization

Employers may petition for a maximum of three years of H-1B status at a time. H-1B visa regulations allow a worker to hold H-1B status for a maximum of six years. Time that an employee has spent in H-1B status at another employer and time spent in H-4 status deducts from their 6 years of eligibility. Departments should contact ISSO if unsure of the potential employee's remaining H-1B eligibility.

Employers may petition for a maximum of three years of H-1B status at a time. H-1B visa regulations allow a worker to hold H-1B status for a maximum of six years. Time that an employee has spent in H-1B status at another employer and time spent in H-4 status deducts from their 6 years of eligibility. Departments should contact ISSO if unsure of the potential employee's remaining H-1B eligibility. The beginning and end dates of employment listed on the H-1B application should reflect the length of funding for the position and the amount of time that the employee is expected to fill the position. H-1B application dates do not have to match the dates of the employee's academic appointment. H-1B applications are not limited to the current academic year, nor subject to the academic calendar.

Employment Restrictions

ISSO must receive approval of the H-1B petition from USCIS before the scholar can begin employment.

The terms of employment in H-1B status are very specific. The Department of Homeland Security’s U.S. Citizenship and Information Service (USCIS) approves the H-1B program for the specific department, salary, duties, and dates listed on the initial H-1B petition. The H-1B recipient is NOT authorized to change employment without authorization from ISSO. This restriction includes changes in position duties, changes in pay rates, and changes of sponsoring departments within UNC Charlotte. If the department anticipates a change in the research or employment of an H-1B employee, the department should notify ISFS immediately, prior to the change in employment.

Extensions of the Program

The host department will be responsible authorizing applications, and paying filing fees, for extensions on behalf of the scholar. Requests for extensions should be filed 5 months before the end date of the original program. Contact ISSO for more information about procedures for extensions of a scholar's program. If ISSO does not receive an extension application 2 months before the end date of the original H-1B approval, there are likely to be gaps in employment eligibility.

Application Process

All applications for H-1B status are handled by the International Student Scholar Office at the request of the hiring department. The H-1B process can take several months. Please contact Maddy Baer as soon as you anticipate employment of a foreign national requiring H-1B status. Application procedures and timelines vary depending on the type of H-1B application being processed. For more information about the process, see the H-1B process chart. For a detailed list of what the department must do, see the H-1B Departmental Checklist.

Links to H-1B Documents