H1-B: Steps to Obtain H-1B Status

Starting the Process

ISS will begin the process of obtaining an H-1B for a prospective faculty or staff member at the request of a Purdue department. The H-1B petition is an employment-based petition, not an individual’s, and must be prepared and filed by ISS and not through an outside attorney.

Prospective H-1B beneficiaries, supervisors and professors desiring to hire a nonimmigrant on an H-1B should work through the ISS Department Liaison in their department (i.e., the department that will pay the beneficiary's salary). This individual has been trained to prepare the necessary documents for ISS and answer general questions.

The process is initiated when a department liaison contacts ISS and provides a completed H-1B Request Form and ISS Fee Form. ISS will review the request form and determine if the H-1B petition should be pursued or if another types of immigration status is more appropriate.

Step 1: Wage Determinations

(Prevailing Wage and Actual Wage)

Department of Labor (DOL) regulations for the Labor Condition Application (LCA) dictate that an employer must pay the H-1B beneficiary the prevailing wage or the actual wage, whichever is higher.

The prevailing wage is determined by the DOL's National Prevailing Wage Center in Washington, DC. Wage determinations are based on many factors (i.e., geographic location, job title, discipline, job duties, required education) and it is not possible to predict the amount of a prevailing wage until it is provided by the DOL. Employers are required to pay 100% of the prevailing wage determination beginning on the first day of H-1B employment.

To obtain a prevailing wage a department must complete the prevailing wage request form describing the position in which they desire to employ the beneficiary. For Administrative Professional positions, HRS Position Description (PD) Form (previously HRS Form 10) must be used to complete this form and all information must appear on the Prevailing Wage Request Form exactly as it appears on the PD Form (i.e. number of years of experience required, number of employees to be supervised, job description with percentages, etc.). For faculty positions the ad and offer letter should be used to complete this form.

After careful review, ISS will submit the prevailing wage request to the DOL for a determination. Departments should be careful to describe the position and NOT the person they wish to fill this position. Departments must also document the MINIMUM requirements necessary to perform the job. If the position is considered entry-level this should be noted in the description. On the basis of this information a determination is made by the DOL and provided to ISS.

 *Please note that DOL may take 60 days or more to provide a prevailing wage determination. *

The actual wage is determined by Purdue HRS by comparing other workers in the same position or in a position with similar experience and qualifications. A range of salaries is determined from this pool of individuals. Within this salary range various factors will determine the actual wage for the position for which the beneficiary is applying. These factors include, years of experience, education, specific job responsibilities and functions, specialized knowledge in a particular discipline, and other factors unique to the position.

Step 2: Labor Condition Application (LCA)

After the actual and prevailing wages have been obtained these will be communicated to the department liaison.  If the offered wage meets the highest of these two wages ISS will complete the LCA and submit it to the DOL for certification. If the offered wage is lower than either of these wages ISS will work with the department liaison on other options for the beneficiary.  Once a certified LCA is received by ISS it will be sent to the department liaison for the signature of the Department Head. In signing the LCA the Department Head is attesting to the conditions delineated under the section, Employer Labor Condition Statements.

When the LCAs are signed the liaison should make 3 copies. The duplicate original LCAs should be returned to ISS immediately for filing. Two copies must be immediately posted in 2 separate and conspicuous locations where other employee documents are posted within the department for 10 consecutive business days. After 10 days these should be removed and returned to ISS with the dates and place of posting noted on the forms. ISS will keep these postings in a public access file per DOL regulations. The third copy of the LCA should be given to the H-1B beneficiary immediately. The LCA will be included with the H-1B petition that is filed with USCIS.

Step 3: Completing the H-1B Petition (I-129)

Form I-129 will be completed by ISS from information gathered from the questionnaire completed by the beneficiary as well as from information from the department.

Two forms are provided by ISS for departments to give to the beneficiary in order to obtain the required information. These forms consist of a list of documents needed from the beneficiary depending upon his/her status (see Document Checklist) and also a beneficiary questionnaire to be completed by the beneficiary with the pertinent information.

The department must prepare a letter in support of the H-1B petition signed by the Department Head. Samples of this letter have been provided to each liaison with instructions.

USCIS Fees: The H-1B filing fee is $325. This may be paid by the department or by the beneficiary. All new H-1B employment also requires payment of an additional $500 anti-fraud fee which must be paid by the employing department. This anti-fraud fee is not applicable for H-1B extensions or amendments. 

H-1B and H-4 case processing may be expedited by paying an additional $1,225 filing fee to USCIS. This fee may be paid by the department or beneficiary. Please contact ISS if you have questions regarding whether or not expedited processing is necessary. When expedited, it takes approximately 30 days from the date of filing to receive a decision from USCIS.

ISS Processing Fee: Departments also pay an ISS Processing Fee. Please check with ISS for a current fee schedule.

Dependent Information

After all documentation is received, ISS will file the case(s) with USCIS at the California Service Center. From receipt of the petition, USCIS generally takes 90 to 120 days to adjudicate the case(s). For H-1B extensions/amendments/portability cases, the USCIS receipt notice is sufficient for employment to commence or continue. Please allow approximately 4 weeks from the date of filing for the USCIS receipt notice to arrive.

Please Note: If the H-1B beneficiary plans to travel abroad while an H-1B petition is pending or close to the date of expiration of the current H-1B petition, it is imperative that he/she consult with ISS before making travel plans.

Concluding the Process

Upon receipt of the Form I-797 approval notice from USCIS ISS will contact the department liaison. Copies of the Form I-797 will be provided to the department.

The H-1B beneficiary will be notified by the department's ISS liaison when a decision is received from USCIS. The beneficiary will then need to contact ISS for an appointment. At this appointment the beneficiary will receive the original Form I-94 card and a copy of the Form I-797 approval notice. During this initial check in appointment matters regarding the H-1B will be discussed (i.e., traveling and obtaining an H-1B visa stamp, etc.).

The department liaison should provide the I-797 approval notice to the appropriate person in the business office for completion of appropriate employment documentation.

Please note: If the beneficiary is currently in H-1B status at Purdue and is merely extending that status, work may continue for 240 days beyond the date of the current H-1B provided that the H-1B extension petition has been submitted to USCIS prior to the expiration date. This must be documented by the receipt notice from USCIS, which may take approximately 4 weeks to receive from the date of filing.

This is also applicable to someone in H-1B status who is changing employers. Employment with the new employer may commence upon receipt of the USCIS Form I-797 receipt notice. If the application is denied employment must be terminated immediately.

If the beneficiary is changing status from another nonimmigrant status to H-1B he/she may not be employed until the original Form I-797 approval notice has been received from USCIS. Please check with ISS for current processing times.

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