When to begin

Begin the H-1B application process as early as possible. It is recommended that you start the process at least seven months before the proposed H-1B employment will begin for new H-1B petitions, and at least five months before the proposed start date for H-1B extensions and changes of employer. Early filing is critical. H-1B petitions, including extensions, now take considerably longer due to administrative processing times at various federal agencies. Beneficiaries of the H-1B petition who are overseas cannot apply for the H-1B visa until US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) approves the petition filed by the UW on their behalf; similarly, beneficiaries presently in the US and applying for change of status to H-1B cannot work or receive pay for services prior to USCIS approval. If you have questions about feasible start dates, please contact International Scholars Operations (ISO).

How to Submit a Visa Request for an H-1B Petition (New or Extension)
  1. Read our page on H-1B Temporary Workers to assess the eligibility of the Temporary Worker.  An international scholar under an H-1B visa is referred to as a “Temporary Worker” or “Beneficiary.”
  2. Review our H Process Handout to understand the various steps in the process and how long it may take.
  3. Follow the UW Visa Request Instructions to receive a conditionally approved H Visa Request.
  4. Prepare all necessary supporting documents, route them for signatures, and send the complete packet to ISO.
What You Will Receive
  1. An e-mail containing a drafted Labor Condition Application (LCA), a Notice to Employees, and a Posted Notice Verification. The LCA and Notice to Employees must be immediately posted for ten business days in two prominent locations at each worksite where the H-1B beneficiary will work. You should then fill out and sign the Posted Notice Verification and return the original to ISO by campus mail.
  2. Two complete copies of the I-129 petition. One of these copies should be given to the beneficiary.
  3. I-797C “Receipt Notice”.  USCIS adjudicates the petition within three to five months (or two to three weeks, if the petition included the optional $2,500 premium processing fee). The receipt notice will provide a file number, and the progress of the petition may be tracked online at the USCIS website. Note: If the extension request is filed in a timely manner, the beneficiary may update the I-9 and continue on payroll for 240 days based on the receipt notice, even though USCIS may not adjudicate the petition until after the current period of stay expires.
  4. I-797A or I-797B “Approval Notice”.  After receipt of the approval notice, complete or update the I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification Form following instructions from the Integrated Service Center (ISC). Give the original full-page notice to the beneficiary and retain a full-page photocopy for your records. The approval notice is a valuable document and should be carefully safeguarded. Visa stamps cannot be issued without the original approval notice, and it can be difficult to reenter the US without the original approval notice. Obtaining a duplicate “original” approval notice takes several months.


Further Information
  1. 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.
  2. During the employment period, report any changes in the terms and conditions of employment or job title to acadvisa@uw.edu well in advance of the proposed change.
  3. If the beneficiary is dismissed from employment before the end of the period of authorized stay, notify acadvisa@uw.edu so that a request  to withdraw the H-1B can be made on your behalf to USCIS. The UW’s petition to USCIS represents a firm commitment by the UW to fully fund the H-1B for the entire period of time requested. If dismissed early, the employing department must offer to pay return transportation costs to the beneficiary’s last place of foreign residence.
  4. For an additional fee, US Customs and Immigration Services (USCIS) will expedite (“premium process”) your petition.  Contact acadvisa@uw.edu for more information.
  5. The H-1B beneficiary should review the H-1B Reference Guide and contact acadvisa@uw.edu with any questions.  If outside the US, the beneficiary applies for an H-1B visa by presenting the Form I-797 Approval Notice (see above) to the nearest US embassy or consulate. In-person interviews are always required, and appointments may need to be scheduled weeks in advance. Depending on security reviews and the workload at the particular consulate, visas may be issued within a few days to a few months. Accompanying dependents apply for H-4 visas. Canadian citizens are visa-exempt, and simply present the approval notice at the US port of entry. Admission to the US is allowed as early as 10 days before the validity date on the I-797 Approval Notice.  Beneficiaries who are in the US in some other nonimmigrant status will have their status “changed” by USCIS. They need to be aware that if they depart the US, except for brief visits to Canada or Mexico, they must apply at a US embassy or consulate for an H-1B visa prior to their return.  If the beneficiary currently holds H-1B status through another employer, USCIS extends and amends the beneficiary’s stay to permit employment at UW for the validity of the approved petition.
Applicable Fees

The USCIS filing fee for the H-1B petition (Form I-129) is $460, paid by check to “US Department of Homeland Security.” USCIS requires an additional $500 Fraud Prevention and Detection Fee to be paid by employers filing “initial” or “change of employer” petitions. (The $500 fee does not apply to H-1B “extension” petitions.) The fee payments must be separate checks. For an additional $2,500, USCIS will “premium process” the petition within two weeks. It is the responsibility of the hiring department to pay the fees on behalf of the foreign beneficiary. To determine allowability of paying immigration and visa fees through federal grants, contact Grant and Contract Accounting at GCAhelp@uw.edu.

Departments are charged a processing fee of $300, payable by cost transfer invoice (CTI), for each H-1B petition. Departments may not seek reimbursement of the processing fee from the H-1B worker. Budget documentation will be sent to the Budget Contact listed on the UW H Visa Request Form. The processing fee is in addition to any fee(s) paid to USCIS. Note: Federal and non-federal budgets may be used to pay for the H-1B processing fee (subject to the terms and conditions of the grant sponsor). This is in accordance with OMB (Office of Management and Budget), Circular A-21, Cost Principles for Educational Institutions.