Overview

The purpose of the H-1B visa is to allow skilled workers to enter the U.S. to work without undermining the salaries and workplace conditions of U.S. workers. The UW sponsors several hundred H-1B temporary workers each year for employment activities including research, teaching, clinical patient care, and faculty service.

H-1Bs are relatively expensive and have a high compliance and time burden compared to, for example, J-1 visas. Positions must be full-time and paid a UW salary that meets the Department of Labor’s wage requirements to be eligible for H-1B sponsorship. All H-1B petitions based on offers of UW employment are processed through International Scholars Operations (ISO) in the Office of Academic Personnel.

Filing fees of up to $3,460 must be paid to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and processing can take up to a year or more depending on various U.S. agency processing times.

Due to lengthy processing times, H-1B visa requests should be submitted to ISO at least 7 months in advance for extensions, amendments, and changes of employer; and as early as 12 months in advance for new H-1Bs.

An H-1B temporary worker can hold H-1B status for up to 6 years; after that, they must meet certain additional conditions to receive further extensions.

Eligible Titles

H-1B can be an appropriate visa classification for full-time, UW-salaried academic personnel, including:

UW personnel who do not qualify for H-1B sponsorship include:

  • Visiting scientists and visiting scholars (see our J-1 landing page)
  • Postdoctoral scholars coming to the UW from overseas (see our J-1 landing page)
  • Graduates of foreign medical schools with patient care responsibilities who cannot show evidence of successful completion of USMLE Step 3 or equivalent as determined by the Secretary of Health and Human Services
  • Graduates of foreign medical schools participating in UW residency and clinical fellowship programs (except in rare circumstances)
  • Residents in pharmacy, dentistry, comparative medicine and similar programs
  • Current or former J-1 exchange visitors subject to the 2-year foreign residence requirement
  • UW professional staff
  • UW classified staff (except research technologists when it can be shown that no U.S. workers are available and the only qualified candidate is a foreign national residing in the U.S.—contact an HR Employment Specialist before pursuing H-1B sponsorship for a research technologist)

H-1B beneficiaries may review the H-1B web pages prior to starting in their position and can contact acadvisa@uw.edu with any questions.

Units considering H-1B sponsorship can also contact ISO with any questions about H-1B sponsorship or other visa options.

H-1B vs. EAD

An H-1B temporary worker with a pending permanent residence application may be eligible for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD). The holder of a valid EAD can work legally without H-1B status. However, there may be advantages for both the employing UW department and the international scholar if H-1B status is maintained until the green card is issued. Email acadvisa@uw.edu to discuss.