H-1B Visa Information


H-1B status is available to citizens of all countries. To qualify for H-1B status, the foreign national must intend to come to the U.S. to be employed in a “specialty occupation.” A specialty occupation is an occupation that requires the “theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge; and [the] attainment of a bachelor’s or higher degree in a specific specialty (or its equivalent) as a minimum for entry into the occupation in the United States.” Specific wage requirements must also be met (see “Required Wage” section below). 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

In order to submit an H-1B petition, the prospective beneficiary must be eligible for H-1B non-immigrant status.

  • If previously subject to 212(e), the beneficiary must have received an approved Waiver from USCIS.
  • For a current H-1B beneficiary, s/he must qualify for additional time in H-1B status.
  • Changing status from certain other non-immigrant visa categories may limit a petition to a request for consular approval only.
  • If the prospective beneficiary has a pending application for adjustment of status to green card, please contact the ISSO to determine if it is appropriate to submit an H-1B petition

The Employer

The employer is subject to at least the following obligations:

  • Employer must agree to pay, throughout the entire duration of employment the required wage (see the “Required Wage” section below).
  • The employer of an H-1B beneficiary 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.
  • The hiring department is responsible for paying the USCIS Filing Fees.

Maximum Validity

H-1B status can normally be awarded for a total of up to 6 years, but in increments of no longer than 3 years. Any time spent abroad during these six years can be reclaimed and added to the total, as long as the absences from the U.S. can be documented. Extensions past the sixth year are possible under limited circumstances, but only if the foreign national is the beneficiary of an employment-based green card application. Once someone has exhausted his or her time in H-1B status and no extensions based on an underlying green card application are possible, the foreign national must reside abroad for a full year in order to become eligible for a new 6 year period of H-1B status

Time that an employee has spent in H-1B status at another employer deducts from the 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.

Required Wage

To qualify for certain immigration statuses, the foreign national must be paid the required wage. The required wage is independent from many HR considerations, and, in fact may run counter to HR’s guidance.

The required wage is determined by ISSO and is equal to the prevailing wage or the actual wage, whichever is higher. (In the case of green card applications that require a labor certification, the actual wage is not considered.)

The prevailing wage is the wage that people who are in a similar occupation in a given geographic are paid. This wage is based on external wage data, provided by the Department of Labor, and takes into account the requirements for the position vis-à-vis the requirements that the Department of Labor considers typical for the occupation. Note that many occupations, as defined by the Department of Labor, are quite broad and allow for little flexibility.

The actual wage is the wage that people who are similarly employed with the petitioning employer, i.e. the university, are paid. In theory, this is the wage that people doing the same work with the same level of experience, skills and accomplishments are paid.

In some cases, the prevailing wage is higher than the actual wage and even the offered wage. If the prevailing wage is higher than the offered wage, the offered wage must be increased to meet or exceed the prevailing wage.

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 employer, position and location specific. The petition requires declaration of the required wage, offered wage, duties, and employment date. Any anticipated changes to H-1B employment must be discussed, in advance, with the ISSO as it may be necessary to file a new petition with USCIS. This includes, but is not limited to, changes in position duties, changes in pay rates, and changes of sponsoring departments within UNC Charlotte.

USCIS Fee Requirements

Department Responsibility

  • Departments are responsible for paying the USCIS filing fees associated with an immigrant or nonimmigrant petition.
  • If the department requires a quick decision from USCIS, the department is responsible for paying the USCIS expedited processing fee.
  • Specific instructions are part of the Learning Content in ISSO Scholar Portal and can be viewed once a Sponsorship Request has been submitted.

Foreign National Responsibility

  • Foreign national employees are responsible for paying USCIS filing fees associated with their dependents, and may pay this fee by personal check, certified check, or money order made out to Department of Homeland Security.
  • If the foreign national elects USCIS expedited processing for his/her own (non work-related) convenience, s/he is responsible for providing a personal check to cover the fee.
  • The foreign national is responsible for paying the fees related to the visa application at the U.S. consulate.

Extensions of the Program

The host department will be responsible authorizing applications, and paying filing fees, for extensions on behalf of the scholar. Use the ISSO Scholar Portal to request an extension 5 months before the end date of the H-1B authorized end date. If you do not submit an extension at least 2 months before the end date of the original H-1B approval, there are likely to be gaps in employment eligibility and the beneficiary’s status to remain in the U.S. could be negatively affected.

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 ISSO at intlsso@charlotte.edu 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.

UNC Charlotte ISSO Scholar Portal Login Instructions

  • To initiate a UNC Charlotte sponsorship request for an H-1B employee, the ISSO has created ‘User Groups’ for each academic department within the ISSO Scholar Portal. Most College Business Officers, Chairs, and several faculty members who submit requests frequently have been assigned as users.
  • If you are not able to access the portal after clicking inside the tan box at ISSO Scholar Portal and login using your NinerNet credentials (Chrome works best), it’s possible that you are not listed as a user. Please send an email to intlsso@charlotte.edu to request access to your departmental User Group.