H-1B Visas


H-1B Visas

The H-1B temporary worker visa allows foreign nationals to work in the United States in a specialty occupation. The H-1B is an employer-sponsored visa status, and therefore requires UVA to file the visa status petition. Prospective employees cannot obtain H-1B visa status without UVA sponsorship.

H-1B visa status provides the employee with employment authorization within the United States for employment at the University of Virginia.  Travel abroad while in H-1B visa status requires the foreign national to successfully apply and receive an H-1B entry visa at a U.S. Embassy abroad.  The entry visa is issued for a validity period determined by the issuing U.S. Embassy.  The H-1B entry visa cannot be issued from within the United States.

Applicants must have theoretical and practical application of a highly specialized body of knowledge, and the available position must require (and applicant must have) a minimum of a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent.

  • Six-Year Maximum Length of Stay

    H-1B visa holders are eligible for a total stay of six years, including time spent in H-1B status with another employer.

    Employers may initially request a period of up to three years in the application for an H-1B, and then extensions up to the six-year limit.

    Many foreign nationals who previously held J-1 or J-2 visa status may not be eligible for H-1B status or to pursue permanent residence in the U.S. because of a two-year home residency requirement. For more information on the two-year home residency requirement, please visit the International Studies Office website.

    The six-year limit is strictly enforced, with some exceptions:

    • Foreign nationals may be eligible for an extension beyond the six year H-1B maximum if they have progressed to a certain stage in the application process for permanent residency.

      Please contact Immigration Services to determine if you are eligible for this benefit.

    • It is possible to reset the six-year H-1B limit after the individual has spent one year or more outside the U.S.
  • Compliance Issues for Departments

    The employee’s department is responsible for reporting any changes to the working conditions of the H-1B employee to HR Immigration Services. If the change is judged to be substantial, it may require the filing of an amended H-1B petition with USCIS. An amended petition must be submitted to USCIS before the change goes into effect. Changes that should be reported include, but are not limited to:

    • Promotion or other change in job title or rank
    • Change in job duties/responsibilities
    • Increase or decrease in salary or benefits
    • Change in work location or hours of work
  • Paying H-1B Visa Holders from other Institutions

    The University is not permitted to make honoraria payments to H-1B visa holders from other institutions. Individuals in the U.S. on a H-1B are only permitted to receive payments from their sponsoring institution(s). No exceptions will be made.

  • H-4 Dependent Status

    Spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21 are eligible for H-4 dependent status.

    Generally, H-4 dependents are not authorized to work in the U.S., but may attend school full-time or part-time. They are eligible to apply for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD card) if the H-1B visa holder

    • is engaged in the Legal Permanent Residency petition process, and
    • has an approved I-140 or an extended H-1B status beyond six years (based on a PERM labor certification or I-140 pending for at least 365 days).

    Family members living outside the U.S. when an H-1B petition is approved do not need to submit an I-539 application to USCIS to obtain H-4 status. Family members should, instead, apply for an H-4 visa stamp at the U.S. consulate abroad. Consult the relevant U.S. consulate website for specific application requirements.

    Family members who live in the U.S. and want to change or extend H-4 status should complete form I-539 and submit it to HR Immigration Services along with the primary H-1B application materials.

    The foreign national is generally responsible for all fees associated with the H-4 process.

  • Resources