H-1B Scholars

The H1B visa is a non-immigrant category established by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to employ international workers in “specialty occupations.”

Key Elements of H-1B

• Specialty Occupation: a specialty occupation is an occupation that requires 1) the theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge, and 2) attainment of at least a bachelor’s degree in a directly related field (or its equivalent).

• Employer Specific: An offer from a specific U.S. employer is required. If an international wishes to “transfer” from one employer to another, the new employer must file an H-1B petition for that person before s/he can change jobs. Please see our Extending and Maintaining H-1B Status page for more information on this topic.

• Position Specific: H-1B status is granted based on the specific terms of the specific position. Should there be changes in any of the terms of the position, an amended H-1B may be required. Please contact ISSO to discuss the new terms and to determine whether a new amended H-1B petition is required.

• Compliance with DOL Labor Condition Application (LCA) regulations: DOL regulations require that UCSF meet or exceed a pre-determined minimum prevailing wage and that the employee be compensated with employment benefits equivalent to that of any other employee in the same position and level.

• Dual Intent: The H-1B visa type carries “dual intent” which means that the holder may intend to return to his/her home country or intend to immigrate to the United States.

• Internationals subject to 212(e) 2 year home residence requirement are not eligible for H-1B visa. Please visit out Two-Year Home Country Residence Requirement for more information.

• Length of Stay: An H-1B petition can be approved for an initial maximum period of three years. Extensions of up to an additional three years may be obtained. This six year time limit is for all employments, regardless of employers.

*Special H-1B status extensions beyond the six-year maximum: Under the American Competitiveness in the 21st Century Act (AC21), it is possible to obtain H-1B extensions beyond the six-year limit. For more information regarding these exceptions, please visit our What is a Permanent Resident? page.

H-1B Visas at UCSF

UCSF restricts H-1B sponsorship to full-time academic appointments in teaching, research, and clinical positions for which UCSF is the formal employer. UCSF (ISSO) submits an H-1B application on behalf of the employee and can request for a maximum of three years depending on the length of the academic appointment and funding confirmed by the department. In addition, U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) regulations require that UCSF meet or exceed a pre-determined minimum prevailing wage and that the employee be compensated with employment benefits equivalent to that of any other employee in the same position and level.

Please contact your department representative directly regarding H-1B sponsorship. Departments are responsible to determine the length of the appointment, gather all required information, and submit the H-1B request packet to ISSO. Please see “H-1B Processing Time.”

How to Acquire H-1B Visa Status at UCSF

There are two options for international scholars to obtain H-1B status for authorized employment with UCSF:

INITIAL H-1B BY CONSULAR PROCESSING: In general, if a scholar is abroad, s/he must apply for a valid visa stamp at U.S. Embassy/Consulate. This will enable the scholar to enter the U.S. and begin employment. H-1B regulations allow scholars to enter the U.S. a maximum of 10 days in advance of the H-1B validity date. Work may begin on or after the validity date of the H-1B approval notice.

ISSO will send the required documents including the H-1B approval notice and a copy of the H-1B filing to the scholar abroad. The scholar is to present these documents, along with any additional forms required by the appropriate U.S. Embassy/Consulate in order to obtain the H-1B visa. Please visit the appropriate Embassy/consulates for more information at usembassy.state.gov).

Scholars should visit the appropriate embassy or consulate website to receive specific information on appointment wait times as well as any additional H-1B visa application requirements and procedures.

INITIAL H-1B BY CHANGE OF STATUS: If a scholar is changing status from a nonimmigrant visa status to an H-1B, the scholar must remain in the U.S. while the change of status application is pending with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Once the change of status application is granted by the USCIS, the scholar's status will automatically change to H-1B on the start date as shown on the approved I-797. Scholar must check-in with Human Resources the first day of his/her H-1B employment.