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FAQ


E-3 FAQs

  • Can the employee apply for E-3 visa status or an E-3 visa extension within the USA?

Yes. Applicants may apply for extensions and transfers of E-3 status in the USA (through the USCIS) or abroad (at a US consulate). When completing the Visa Case Initiation Request please note whether the employee will apply inside or outside the USA so that the appropriate documentation can be prepared.

  • What is the maximum length of stay permitted in E-3 status?

E-3 status is approved in two year increments. However, there is no limit on how long an individual can extend their stay in E-3 status.

  • Can I transfer my E-3 status from another US employer?

Yes. If transferring E-3 status to Vanderbilt from another employer, GSS must file a new E-3 petition with the USCIS before the foreign national terminates employment with the current employer. Failure to maintain employment with the current employer prior to our filing a new E-3 petition may cause serious delays in employment at Vanderbilt (e.g., the foreign national may have to leave the United States and obtain a Vanderbilt-sponsored E-3 at a U.S. consulate abroad in order to re-enter). Transferring E-3 status from another employer involves careful timing and diligence in the application process; therefore, it is important that GSS be contacted as soon as possible after the job offer is accepted. Before an E-3 transfer employee can begin employment with Vanderbilt, the new E-3 petition must be approved.

 

H-1B FAQs

    • My department needs an H-1B for a current employee or new hire.  What do I do?

    You will need information from the employee, information regarding the salary of similarly employed people in the department, a job description and an appointment letter/offer letter.  With this information you can complete the Visa Case Initiation Form: https://forms.vanderbilt.edu/view.php?id=447750.

    After submission GSS will be in touch with you regarding next steps. 

    • I submitted the Case Initiation Form; when can the employee start? 

    There are many steps that go into preparing an H-1B petition and, depending on the case and time of year, processing times both internally and at USCIS will vary.  Further, there are different situations your employee may fall into.

    Change of status (not currently on an H-1B): The employee will need the H-1B approval notice to begin working.  With premium processing this can generally be done by 8 weeks.  With regular processing times vary and you should contact GSS to determine the most likely start date.

    Transfer H-1B (working on an H-1B sponsored by another institution): The employee will need the receipt notice to begin working.  The receipt notice is issued by USCIS as proof that they have received the petition and, in most cases, will be received by 6 weeks. 

    H-1B Extension (working at Vanderbilt with an H-1B): This person may continue working at Vanderbilt without interruption as long as the Case Initiation Form is received at least 6 weeks prior to the current expiration. 

    • What should the department do in the event of a promotions/demotions or transfer? 

    If there are any material changes to the employment a new LCA must be filed as well as a new or amended H-1B visa petition. Changes to any of the following must be reported to GSS prior to the enactment of the change:

    • Salary increase above 5%
    • Any decrease in salary
    • Increase/decrease in hours worked
    • Change in job site
    • Position title change
    • Promotions or demotions

    If GSS staff determines in a routine audit that material changes were made the department will most likely be responsible for paying the USCIS premium processing fee of $1,225 in order to maintain compliance. 

    • Can we terminate an H-1B employee’s employment before the expiration?  What do we need to know about early terminations?

    There is no obligation to employ the H-1B employee for the full validity of the H-1B.  However, upon terminating an H-1B visa holder, the employer is obligated to pay for the reasonable costs associated with the employee's return flight home or last residence if the employee will be returning.

    Additionally, upon such a termination, it is in the employer's best interest to withdraw the related LCA and to also notify the USCIS of the termination of employment pursuant to the previously approved H-1B visa petition, each of which will provide the employer with further evidence of the termination of such employment and the employer's obligations relating thereto.

    If the employee elects to terminate or if the employee is staying in the US the department has no obligation to pay for a flight.  The department is not required to pay for any dependents or personal belongings.

    Please complete and return the H-1B Return Transportation Form to GSS (Student Life Center, Suite 110) for all department initiated terminations.  GSS should receive this form by the date of termination or as closely afterwards as possible. 

    • What does the employee need to know about dependents?

    Dependents of H-1B visa holders (spouses and children under 21 years of age) are eligible for H-4 visa status. This status can be obtained at a US consulate if the dependents are outside of the USA or through USCIS if they are inside the USA. Dependent family members must obtain H-4 status unless they are in another lawful nonimmigrant category.

    Dependent family members in H-4 status are not authorized to work while in the United States. Dependents in H-4 status may not receive any US sourced income while in H-4 status. They may engage in volunteer activities only if the activity is traditionally done on a volunteer basis. Dependent family members may not volunteer in positions that are usually paid position.

    H-4s may attend school in the USA at any level from kindergarten through post-secondary education. H-4s attending universities or colleges are not eligible for optional practical training at the completion of their degree studies.

    The employee may choose to prepare the H4 documents and send them, along with the USCIS filing fee, to Vanderbilt’s attorney.  Alternately, the employee may choose to have Vanderbilt’s attorney prepare the documents for a charge.  The employee should let GSS know what option is preferred. 

    O-1 FAQs

    • If I am subject to the 2 year J-1 home residency requirement can I still get an O-1?

    Yes, O-1 status is available for individuals who are subject to the two-year home residency requirement and who have not obtained a waiver of that requirement as long as the applicant can satisfy the requirements of the O-1 visa status. 

    • What is the maximum length of stay permitted in O-1 status?

    An initial O-1 petition for a particular employer is approved for a period up to 3 years and is then renewable annually for unlimited duration as long as the work described in the application is still underway. If there is a significant change in employment, however, another 3 year extension may be granted.

    • How do I transfer my O-1 status from another U.S. employer?

    If transferring O-1 status to Vanderbilt from another employer, GSS must file a new O-1 petition with the USCIS for Vanderbilt employment before the foreign national terminates employment with the current employer. Failure to maintain employment with the current employer prior to our filing a new O-1 petition may cause serious delays in employment at Vanderbilt (e.g., the foreign national may have to leave the United States and obtain an O-1 visa abroad in order to re-enter).

    Transferring O-1 status from another employer involves careful timing and diligence in the application process; therefore, it is important that OIS be contacted as soon as possible when offering a position to a foreign national currently in O-1 status at another employer. Before an O-1 transfer employee can begin employment with Vanderbilt, the new O-1 petition must be approved.

     

      TN FAQs

    • What is the maximum length of stay permitted in TN-1 status?

    TN-1 status is approved in up to 3 year increments and there is no limit on how long an individual can extend their stay in TN-1 status.

    • May I transfer my TN-1 status from another US employer?

    Yes. If transferring TN-1 status to Vanderbilt from another employer, GSS must file a new TN-1 petition with the USCIS for Vanderbilt employment before the foreign national terminates employment with the current employer. Failure to maintain employment with the current employer prior to our filing a new TN-1 petition may cause serious delays in employment at Vanderbilt (e.g., the foreign national may have to leave the United States and obtain an TN-1 visa abroad in order to re-enter).

    Transferring TN-1 status from another employer involves careful timing and diligence in the application process. Therefore, it is important that OIS be contacted as soon as possible when offering a position to a foreign national currently in TN-1 status at another employer. The TN-1 transfer employee cannot begin employment with Vanderbilt until the TN-1 petition is approved by USCIS.

     

    Permanent Residence FAQs 

    • When referring to permanent residence filings, what does EB-1, EB-2, and EB-3 mean?

    “EB” is the abbreviation for “employment-based,” and simply means that permanent residence is being sought through an employment filing (rather than a family-based, diversity lottery, asylum, etc.). Most employment filings are sponsored by the employer, though there are a few petitions within the employment-based category that may be self-sponsored. There are nine employment-based categories. However, the types of filings Vanderbilt sponsors for permanent residence fall within the EB-1, EB-2 or EB-3 category. For more information on the requirements for these petitions please visit our permanent residence page here. 

    • What is a priority date?

    The priority date is the date that the first step of the application is received by either the Department of Labor or USCIS. If you happen to be filing a PERM Labor Certification, the priority date is the date that the PERM is received by the Department of Labor. If you are exempt from having to submit a PERM with the Department of Labor (i.e. National Interest Waiver, Outstanding Researcher, Person of Extraordinary Ability, or PERM for RNs and Physical Therapists) then the priority date is the date that the USCIS receives your I-140 filing.

    • What positions does Vanderbilt sponsor for permanent residence?

    Vanderbilt University can sponsor any permanent staff or faculty position. Positions that can not be sponsored at Vanderbilt because they are not considered permanent in nature include any Postdoctoral Fellow positions (i.e. Research Fellows, Postdoctoral Scholars), Resident Physicians and/or Clinical Fellows.

    • Who pays the USCIS fees and GSS fees for the Vanderbilt sponsored permanent residence filing?

    All OIS fees are paid by the Vanderbilt department requesting the permanent residence filing.  All USCIS fees for the I-140 petition are paid by the Vanderbilt department also.  USCIS fees for the employee's family's immigration filing are the responsibility of the employee.  However, if a department insists on paying the employee's immigration fees, the employee should first pay the fees and then seek reimbursement when the USCIS receipt notices are received.  Note that the department reimbursement is taxable and reportable to the IRS on the employee's annual tax filing.  In addition, Vanderbilt will withhold taxes on the payment if required to do so by federal tax regulations.  However, even if Vanderbilt is not required to withhold taxes, the employee must report receipt of the funds on his/her annual tax filing ("tax return").

    • What is the process for self-sponsorship for permanent residence?

    If an employee chooses to pursue permanent residence through self-sponsorship, he or she may file the application through our preferred immigration partner, Fragomen (Fragomen, Del Rey, Bernsen & Loewy, LLP). To initiate the process, you may contact GSS to set up an appointment. GSS cannot assist in the preparation or filing of a self-sponsored permanent residence application; we are only involved in Vanderbilt-sponsored filing.

    Travel FAQs

    • What documents does Vanderbilt give me for my entry visa application?

    GSS will provide you with a travel letter and copy of your I-797. You will be responsible for collecting the remaining documents required by the U.S. consulate where you will be interviewing. Please check the consulate's website for a list of additional required documents as each location may have slightly different requirements.   

    • How do I get the Vanderbilt documents for my trip abroad?

    Complete the Travel Letter Request and your travel letter and I-797 copy will be sent to you via email.  

    • How does GSS help me if my visa application is delayed?

    GSS cannot expedite any administrative processing or background check delays. These delays involve several different federal agencies and are not controlled solely by the Department of State.  Contact GSS if administrative processing takes longer than 6 weeks or the time given at the appointment.  It is important for all of our international employees to know that administrative and background checks are fairly common and may involve lengthy delays that cannot be expedited by Vanderbilt. Please discuss this with your supervisors before traveling abroad. 

International Tax FAQs

  • How does Vanderbilt collect my information to make an assessment of my taxes?

Vanderbilt uses an online database called Windstar to collect information to make a tax assessment.  Windstar is the secure online database used to collect and manage tax information for all international persons receiving payment from Vanderbilt.

  • What do I need to do to be sure I have the right amount of tax withdrawn?

When the International Tax team is notified that you will be receiving payments, we will send you an e-mail with instructions on how to access Windstar.  You will receive an email from ito@vanderbilt.edu which will contain your Windstar access codes.  You must complete the Windstar questionnaire, then print and sign the completed forms.  Mail or drop off the signed forms and any listed copies of immigration documents to the address listed in the Windstar instructions.  If you have problems completing Windstar please contact us at ito@vanderbilt.edu.

  • What taxes are paid in the USA?

There are three federal taxes that are paid in the USA:  Social Security Tax, Medicare Tax and Income Tax.  Social Security Tax and Medicare Tax together are referred to as FICA.

  • Will I have to pay US tax?

F-1 and J-1 students are exempt from FICA taxes for the first 5 calendar years of status.  Additionally, in certain situations, if an F-1 or J-1 continues to be a student for more than 5 years, they can continue to receive the FICA exemption.  J-1 non-students (researchers, professors, trainees, etc.) are exempt from FICA taxes for the first two calendar years of J-1 status.

Income tax is paid unless there is an Income Tax Treaty between your country of tax residence and the USA that exempts you from paying income tax.  Note that your country of tax residence may be different than your country of birth or country of citizenship.  The country of tax residence is the country you resided in for at least one year immediately before coming to the USA.  When you complete Windstar, you will be informed of whether there is a tax treaty that can be applied to exempt you from income tax.

  • Am I required to update Windstar when my address or status changes?

Yes.  Your Windstar record must remain accurate and changes to your personal information may affect your tax withholding and exemptions.  Be sure to update changes to your address, compensation type, immigration status and anything else that changes that is part of your Windstar entry.  This includes your departure date(s) from the U.S.

  • Which tax forms will I receive at the end of they year?
  1. If you have a job, receive a paycheck and don't have a tax treaty benefit you will receive a W-2 at the end of the year
  2. If you have a job, receive a paycheck and do have a tax treaty benefit you will receive a 1042-S at the end of the year
  3. If you have a reportable stipend or other taxable income and do have tax treaty benefits you will receive a 1042-S
  4. If you did not have a job, but receive a stipend or other taxable income, you will receive a 1042-S
  5. If you have a job and also receive a reportable stipend or other taxable income, and don't have a tax treaty benefit you will receive both a W-2 and 1042-S
  • Need to request a replacement W-2?

The W-2 is mailed no later than January 31st of each year.  Be sure your address is correct in the pay roll system before the end of the year so that your W-2 is sent to the correct address.  If you need to get another W-2, please contact Human Resources at human.resources@vanderbilt.edu.    

  • Need to request a replacement 1042-S?

The 1042-S is made available electronically or mailed no later than March 15th of each year.  When you enroll in Windstar you can request electronic delivery of the 1042-S and it will be available 24 hours/day in your Windstar account.  We recommend that you request electronic delivery when you set up your Windstar account.  If you did not request electronic delivery of your 1042-S, and need a replacement, please complete the Request for Replacement of 1042-S Form.

  • What do I do if my taxes are wrong on my paycheck?

If you believe your taxes are wrong, please send an e-mail to us at ito@vanderbilt.edu explaining why you believe your taxes have been calculated incorrectly. We’ll review the information and the IRS tax regulations and provide you with an explanation. If a correction is needed, we will explain how the correction will be made. If necessary, an appointment will be scheduled.

  • How do I get help in preparing my annual tax return?

ITO's International Tax Analyst  cannot provide personal tax assistance with annual tax filings.  We do, however, provide information of community resources that provide taxpayer assistance.  This information is provided by e-mail in March of each year.  If you need the information before March, please send an e-mail request to us at ito@vanderbilt.edu.