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How to sponsor an H-1B temporary worker

The Office of Academic Personnel (OAP) and UW Human Resources (UWHR) are collaborating on a pilot program to extend H-1B and other visa sponsorship to staff positions. This program will start on July 1, 2023. For more information, click here.

Note: Unlike the J sponsorship process, most steps of sponsorship for H-1Bs are the same, regardless of whether it is an extension or amendment, a change of employer (or “transfer”), or a new H-1B. In order to help campus partners plan more effectively, we include approximate times for external processes.

Review the international scholar’s eligibility for an H-1B visa on our H-1B Temporary Workers page. Begin as early as possible, but at least 3 months in advance of the desired start date. Sponsors can contact ISO at any stage to get an estimate on how long the process will take.

Obtain a copy of the offer letter and the ad from the recruitment (if a competitively recruited position). Have the scholar complete pages 1-3 of the H-1B Visa Intake Form, then unit administrators will complete pages 4-7 of appointment information. Note that some appointment titles may require submission of supporting documentation with the visa request. Make sure the information on the intake form is consistent with supporting documents.

Enter the H-1B Visa Intake Form information into the H Visa Request form online and hit “Submit”. The person who submits the visa request will receive an email from our ticketing system confirming receipt and including a Visa Request Tracking Number. Use this tracking number when inquiring about the status of the visa request.

Note: Only an authorized staff member in the UW department or program sponsoring the international scholar may prepare a visa request. A UWNetID is required.

ISO will review for visa eligibility and timeline issues. The Academic HR Team (AHR) will review for appointment issues. As part of this review, either team may reach out for more information or documentation.

After the review is complete, AHR will send the Conditionally Approved Visa Request to the person who submitted the visa request by email.

Note: Once the PDF has been sent, the visa request may not be altered without prior approval from AHR.

Assemble the Conditionally Approved Visa Request and supporting documents, following the guidelines in our H-1B Required Documents page. Route it for signature by the appropriate parties (usually the chair and dean), and then send it back to ISO by one of the following methods:

  • By campus mail to campus mailbox 351245
  • As one complete PDF by replying to the email sent with the approved visa request
  • As one complete PDF uploaded to the visa request using the “Manage Files” function

When the packet arrives at ISO, the person who submitted the visa request will receive an email confirming receipt.

ISO will review all documentation and contact the unit for any further information. As part of this review, ISO may ask for more information or additional documentation if supporting documents are missing or inconsistent.

ISO will perform a prevailing wage “self-determination” by comparing the duties and requirements of the position as described in the Prevailing Wage Intake Form and the ad for the position (for competitively recruited titles) with DOL wage data. ISO may consult with the unit as part of this process to make sure it is identifying and applying the correct set of wage data. If the self-determination results in a wage higher than the offered wage, ISO will investigate other options for continuing employment and contact the unit with next steps.

This step is not necessary for titles covered by a collective bargaining agreement (CBA).

ISO will prepare a Labor Condition Application (LCA) to submit to the DOL. For titles covered by a CBA, ISO will send the LCA directly to the union to provide notice to U.S. workers. For titles not covered by a CBA, ISO will send the LCA and other documents to the unit for posting. Posting may be done by physical posting at each worksite, by email listserv, or by departmental intranet. Email ISO to confirm that documents have been posted; ISO will then submit the LCA to the DOL.

DOL will process the LCA in up to 7 business days.

Based on the approved LCA, ISO will prepare a complete I-129 petition. As part of this process, ISO may request revisions to previously-provided documents or new documents to address H-1B eligibility requirements.

ISO will send the I-129 petition to USCIS for processing. ISO will send a copy of the finalized petition to the unit; provide this to the scholar for their records. USCIS will issue a receipt notice within a week with a tracking number; ISO will send this to the unit as well.

Please note: If this is an extension, amendment, or change of employer for an existing H-1B, the scholar can keep working (or move to the new position) if the petition is filed with USCIS before the current H-1B expires.

Under regular USCIS processing, adjudication of the petition may take up to 12 months. This process can be expedited by paying the USCIS Premium Processing Fee, which guarantees action (meaning approval, request for evidence, or denial) on the petition within 15 days. If USCIS issues a request for evidence, ISO will work with the unit to prepare a response.

Upon approval, USCIS will mail an approval notice to ISO, which ISO will forward to the unit. Give the original full-page notice to the beneficiary and retain a full-page photocopy for your records. Visa stamps cannot be issued without the original approval notice, and it can be difficult to reenter the U.S. without the original approval notice. If the original approval notice is lost or stolen, ISO may have to submit a new application to USCIS, with additional associated fees and processing time.

The H-1B temporary worker may enter the U.S. up to 10 days before or after the start date on the approval notice. More details can be found on the international scholar-facing H-1B visa section.

Processing Time

In general, units should submit H visa requests to ISO as far in advance of the requested start dates as they are able.

New H-1B

Because they require an approval from USCIS, requests for new H-1Bs usually take the longest to process. ISO recommends submitting visa requests for new H-1Bs 4 or more months in advance where possible to allow plenty of time for DOL and USCIS adjudications.

For scholars changing status from another visa status to H-1B, the petition to USCIS must be approved for them to continue working after their current employment authorization ends. For scholars entering the U.S. in H-1B status for the first time, the petition to USCIS must be approved before they interview for the visa stamp at the U.S. consulate abroad.

Extension or Amendment of H-1B Status

For extensions or amendments of an existing H-1B, the petition to USCIS must be filed before the current H-1B expires. If the visa request is submitted to ISO too late that ISO is unable to file the H-1B petition with USCIS before the current H-1B expires, the employee may have to depart the U.S. and await processing abroad.

Change of H-1B Employer to UW

For changes of employer (also called “transfers”), if the visa request is submitted to ISO too close to the requested start date, the start date may need to be pushed out and the scholar’s current H-1B employment extended; if that is not possible, the scholar may have to leave the U.S. and await approval of a new H-1B outside the country.

Fees for H Visa Requests

See Fees page for more information.