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H-1B Overview

H-1B visa category : The H-1B visa is for temporary employment in specialty occupations (position must require at least a bachelor’s degree for entry into the profession). This category is regulated by both the United States Citizenship & Immigration Service (USCIS) and the Department of Labor (DOL).

Applying for the H-1B visa : The H-1B visa petition must be filed within the USA with USCIS. The filing will indicate whether the employee will change to H-1B status (if already in the USA in lawful immigration status) or obtain an H-1B visa from a US consulate abroad (if outside the USA). For persons applying at a US consulate, a visa interview is required to review the documentation and confirm H-1B eligibility. Applicants for an H-1B visa will need to schedule an appointment to attend the consular interview. OIS is responsible for the H-1B visa process regardless of whether the petition is for an employee outside or inside the USA.

Changes in employment and transfers of H-1B status within Vanderbilt : Employees in H-1B status at Vanderbilt should be aware that their current H-1B status only provides work authorization to work at Vanderbilt in the job specified on the Labor Condition Application and/or immigration filing. Employees in approved H-1B status at Vanderbilt may only transfer within Vanderbilt to another position in the same specific occupation. If the occupation category changes, employment is possible but will likely require notification to the DOL and USCIS.

OIS should be contacted prior to any change in employment to review the position change and determine whether federal agency notification is required. Generally USCIS and DOL must be notified, and a new H-1B petition filed, if there are significant employment changes(e.g. change in job duties, substantial salary increase or decrease, change in hours worked). The need to file a petition to provide notification of a significant change in employment will not delay the event (promotion, salary increase, etc.) as long as the H-1B filing is done in a timely fashion. For that reason, it is important to contact VISIT as soon as the changes are agreed upon and before the change in employment occurs.

Extension of H-1B status at Vanderbilt : Employees currently in H-1B status at Vanderbilt, who will continue working at our institution, may file for an extension of H-1B status up to six months before the current H-1B expires. To ensure uninterrupted employment, it is essential that the H-1B extension filing reaches USCIS before the current H-1B expires so please complete the H-1B Packet and forward it to OIS in a timely manner. Employees needing to extend H-1B status in the United States are encouraged to begin the process well in advance.

OIS contacts employees and departments six months, three months and one month prior to the visa expiration to remind them of the need to file for a visa status extension. Filing the H-1B extension before the current H-1B expires allows for an automatic 240 day extension of H-1B status while in the USA. Employees who travel abroad during the 240 day extension period may have to wait for H-1B approval and obtain a new H-1B visa from a US consulate before returning to the USA to resume employment. In addition, employees who travel abroad after the H-1B extension is approved must obtain an H-1B visa from a USA consulate before returning to the USA to resume employment.

Termination of employment at Vanderbilt while in H-1B Status : Employees in H-1B status at Vanderbilt are permitted to work only at Vanderbilt University. Should additional employment be desired, the new employer must file a petition for concurrent H-1B visa status. Further, if an employee wishes to resign from employment at Vanderbilt and seek employment elsewhere, please contact OIS to discuss options for maintaining status through the change in employment.

Employees should be aware that there is no H-1B status grace period following termination of employment at Vanderbilt. However, upon entering the USA, US Customs & Border Protection (CBP) will provide an I-94 document with an additional ten (10) day grace period to allow for time to depart the USA. Please remember to request the 10 day grace period when being inspected by CBP as it can only be granted by a CBP officer. Employees in H-1B status who are informed of an upcoming termination or lay-off should contact OIS immediately .