How to Start the H-1B Process
The department that is sponsoring H-1B status for the employee must initiate the H-1B petition process with IE; the employee cannot start the process himself or herself. The H-1B packet must be submitted to IE as far in advance (3-6 months preferred) to ensure timely processing. IE needs ALL of the documents and materials mentioned below and in the attached forms in order to prepare and file the H-1B petition with USCIS. Please note that it takes IE a minimum of 3-4 weeks to prepare and file any type of H-1B petition, so please plan accordingly and DO NOT wait until the last minute to submit documents for H-1B status for an employee! If the department does not send the H-1B initiation packet to International Employment (IE) with enough time to reasonably obtain the status in the timeframe requested, IE cannot guarantee timely processing or that the person will be able to start working for the department in H-1B status by the requested start date.
Please contact the International Employment Manager at 919-515-4518 immediately if you are trying to sponsor someone for an SHRA position, before you begin to prepare any paperwork. There are some SHRA positions that do not qualify for H-1B status, and we will not be able to provide immigration sponsorship for those positions, regardless of the educational and experience credentials of the candidate.
Instructions for Departments
The department needs to fully complete (and have signed where appropriate) the following forms and send ALL requested documents to IE for processing. Please contact IE if you have any questions.
This letter is separate from the original offer or appointment letter, and does not have to coincide with the appointment dates. The sponsor letter is for H-1B purposes only. The start date in the letter must not be a date already in the past, and the letter cannot request more than three years of H-1B status.
Once IE has received all necessary forms and documents, the IE Manager will determine the required prevailing wage (in consultation with the appropriate HR compensation professional) to start the H-1B preparation process. IE must file a form called a Labor Condition Application (LCA) with the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), and it takes DOL seven business days to return the certified form to us. The dates on the LCA form (which are the dates of H-1B employment given to IE by the department) govern the time period that USCIS can put on the H-1B approval notice.
Instructions for Foreign National Employee
The sponsored employee needs to fully complete (and sign where appropriate) the following form and send ALL requested documents to the sponsoring department contact for processing. The department contact will send this information to IE for processing. Please contact the department contact or IE if you have any questions.
Note: Only the spouse and children (under the age of 21) are allowed to apply for dependent status (H-4) based on the status of the sponsored employee; elderly parents or other relatives do not qualify for H-4 status per immigration law. Any dependent family members who are already in the U.S. with the sponsored employee must file for a change of status or extension of status so that they have or will receive an approval notice and maintain legal status that will match the period of stay given to the sponsored employee, unless they have separate, independent status in the United States.
If the spouse and children are OUTSIDE OF THE U.S., then there is no paperwork that is filed with USCIS for them. These dependents will apply for H-4 visas abroad when the new employee applies for a new H-1B visa stamp in his/her passport (after USCIS has approved the H-1B petition and mailed IE the original approval notice, which IE will give or send to the employee).
H-4 dependent children are NOT permitted to work in the U.S. and are not eligible to apply for a Social Security card. Certain H-4 spouses might be eligible to apply for an employment card (and then a Social Security Card) if certain criteria are met. More information is available at https://www.uscis.gov/working-united-states/temporary-workers/employment-authorization-certain-h-4-dependent-spouses.