- E-3 FAQ
- H-1B FAQ
- O-1 FAQ
- TN FAQ
- Permanent Residence FAQ
- Travel FAQ
- International Tax FAQ
- I-9 & E-verifiy
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, OIS 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 University (e.g., the foreign national may have to leave the United States and obtain a Vanderbilt University-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 OIS be contacted as soon as possible after the job offer is accepted. Before an E-3 transfer employee can begin employment with Vanderbilt University, the new E-3 petition must be approved.
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 Request for University Employees .
After submission OIS 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 in 12 weeks. With regular processing times vary and you should contact OIS to determine the most likely start date.
Transfer H-1B (working on an H-1B sponsored by another institution): The employee may begin working once the petition is received by USCIS. This can typically be done within 8-10 weeks.
H-1B Extension (working at Vanderbilt University with an H-1B): This person may continue working at Vanderbilt University up to 240 days after the expiration of their H-1B without a decision from USCIS as long as the petition is filed before the expiration. For this reason extensions generally receive the lowest priority so it is important to let OIS know if the employee will be traveling.
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 OIS prior to the enactment of the change:
- Any decrease in salary
- Increase/decrease in hours worked
- Change in job site
- Position title change
- Promotions or demotions
- Material change to the duties of the position
If OIS 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 $1,410 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 OIS for all department initiated terminations. OIS should receive this form no later than the date of termination.
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.
In most cases, dependent family members in H-4 status are not authorized to work while in the United States and 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 positions.
Certain H-4 dependent spouses of H-1B nonimmigrants can file Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, if the H-1B nonimmigrant:
- Is the principal beneficiary of an approved Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker; or
Has been granted H-1B status under sections 106(a) and (b) of the American Competitiveness in the 21st Century Act as amended by the 21st Century Department of Justice Appropriations Authorization Act (AC21).
Other H-4 visa holders are not eligible to get a Social Security Number and cannot be employed, but they can hold a driver's license, open bank accounts, and get an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number for U.S. tax purposes.
Because these other H-4 visa holders are not issued a social security number, an ITIN (Individual tax identification number) should be obtained before filing for joint tax returns by filing Form W-7. They are not authorized to work in the United States, but they are allowed to study.
Family members may alternatively be admitted in other non-immigrant categories for which they qualify, such as the F-1 category for children or spouses who will be students or the H-1B category for a spouse whose employer has also obtained approval of an H-1B visa petition to employ the spouse. An H-4 visa holder is admitted to the U.S. for the duration of the primary (H-1B, H-2A, H-2B, or H-3) visa validity.
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 University’s attorney. Alternately, the employee may choose to have Vanderbilt University’s attorney prepare the documents for a fee. The employee should let OIS know what option is preferred.
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 University from another employer, OIS must file a new O-1 petition with the USCIS for Vanderbilt University 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 University (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 University, the new O-1 petition must be approved.
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 University from another employer, OIS must file a new TN-1 petition with the USCIS for Vanderbilt University 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 University (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 University 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 University 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 University because they are not considered permanent in nature include any Postdoctoral Fellow positions (i.e. Research Fellows, Postdoctoral Scholars).
Who pays the USCIS fees and OIS fees for the Vanderbilt sponsored permanent residence filing?
All OIS fees are paid by the Vanderbilt University 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.
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 retain his/her own immigration attorney. OIS cannot assist in the preparation or filing of a self-sponsored permanent residence application; we are only involved in Vanderbilt University-sponsored filing.
What documents does Vanderbilt give me for my entry visa application?
OIS will provide you with a travel letter and copy of your I-797 approval notice. 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?
Contact OIS to request a travel letter. Once it is ready, OIS will contact you and you can come collect it from OIS in suite 1100 Baker Building. You will need the signed original letter for your interview.
How does OIS help me if my visa application is delayed?
OIS 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 OIS 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 University. Please discuss this with your supervisors before traveling abroad.