H-1B limit

US Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) regulations establish a six-year cap on the number of consecutive years a foreign national may hold H-1B status. Initial admission as an H-1B can be up to three years; extensions of stay are granted in up to three-year increments. After that time, the individual must remain outside the US for an aggregate of one year before another H-1B petition can be approved. Any periods of time in H-1B status with other US employers prior to UW appointment count toward the six-year limit. Extensions beyond six years are possible in limited circumstances involving delays in the processing of applications for permanent residence.

For multi-year-eligible appointments, ISO will request H-1B status for the dates listed on the offer or reappointment letter, up to the 3-year limit on H-1B requests or other eligibility limits. For annual appointments, ISO may request H-1B status for up to 3 years (or to the end of the appointment title eligibility, whichever is shorter); however, the department must indicate that the current expectation of programmatic needs is for more than one year, and the offer letter or reappointment letter must specifically state that continued visa sponsorship is contingent upon successful reappointment.

Processing time

Extension requests may be filed as early as six months before the current stay expires. Early filing is critical. Because of delays in obtaining a prevailing wage determination from the US Department of Labor, we might be unable to file the H-1B petition with USCIS before the current period of authorized stay expires, requiring the employee to depart the US and await processing abroad.

How to apply
  1. Procedures for obtaining an extension are similar to those followed to obtain the initial H-1B status. The department follows the UW Visa Request Instructions and submits the necessary supporting documentation.
  2. A new I-129 Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker and ETA 9035 Labor Condition Application will be prepared, and the extension request will be submitted to USCIS on your behalf. The international scholar must be in the US on the day USCIS receives the extension request.
  3. ISO will send the employing department an electronic copy of the Labor Condition Application (LCA), a Notice to Employees, and a Posted Notice Verification. The LCA and Notice to Employees should be posted in two prominent locations at each of the international scholar’s work sites for ten business days. The H-1B petition will be filed with USCIS only after the department sends the completed Posted Notice Verification to International Scholars Operations (ISO) to confirm that the notices were posted for ten business days.
  4. Upon receipt of the petition, USCIS will issue an I-797C “Receipt Notice”. If the extension request is filed in a timely manner, the international scholar may use this receipt notice to update the I-9 and continue on payroll for up to 240 days, even though USCIS may not adjudicate the petition until after the current period of stay expires.
  5. ISO forwards the I-797A “Approval Notice” from USCIS to the hiring department. The department then updates the I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification Form following instructions from the Integrated Service Center (ISC). The department gives the original full-page notice to the beneficiary and retains a full-page photocopy for department records.
EAD or H-1B?

An H-1B employee 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. Please email us to discuss.