H-1B Non-Immigrant Workers in Specialty Occupations
The H-1B status has been commonly used by American universities in hiring foreign professors and researchers. Its advantages include a six year maximum period of stay, its lack of a prohibition on application for permanent residence in the United States, and its short processing time relative to processing of an application for permanent resident status.
According to federal regulations, persons in H-1B status will perform services in a specialty occupation which requires theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge with attainment of a baccalaureate or higher degree (or its equivalent), as a minimum requirement for entry into the occupation in the United States. Applications to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for H-1B status must be accompanied by a Labor Condition Application certified by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). A $500 "anti-fraud" fee must be paid for initial H-1B employment with an employer along with the regular application fee of $460. Both fees are to be paid by the employing department.
Persons in H‑1B status may be allowed to remain in the United States for a maximum period of six years after which they would be required to leave the United States for at least one year before returning in H-1B status again. The initial H-1B period can be applied for up to 3 years with the possibility of extension for a total period of 6 years. Universities are not subject to the annual cap on the number of available H-1B visas. The petitioner (employer) is required under DOL regulations to pay return transportation if the H-1B worker is terminated prior to the end of H-1B status. Applicants for permanent residence may be eligible under certain circumstances for more than six years in H-1B status.
An application for H-1B status should be expected to take at least 4 months or more unless premium processing is requested and an additional fee of $1,225 is paid. If the prospective employee is outside the United States, additional time will be taken for the H-1B visa application at a U.S. consulate.
Applications for H-1B status at Texas Tech are governed by OP 70.36. The H-1B process at Texas Tech starts with a request by the employing unit of the University after one year of full-time employment at TTU.