H-1B Overview

International Student & Scholar Services processes H-1B petitions for eligible position titles at UT. The allowable position titles can be found in the UT Policy for Hiring Foreign Nationals. The hiring department must initiate the H-1B request to ISSS to begin the process. Processing times for an H-1B petition can take up to six to eight months, so it is recommended to start the process as early as possible.

H- 1B is a nonimmigrant visa status for an international worker who will perform services in a specialty occupation. A specialty occupation is one that requires a specialized body of knowledge, meaning that the job requires at least a bachelor’s degree. The regulations pertaining to the H-1B nonimmigrant status indicate the following:

  • H-1B is job specific - the number of hours, job title, nature of job duties, and salary are all specified within the corresponding H-1B petition. Thus, an H-1B status holder is authorized to work for the employer that sponsored the H-1B position only, and may not work or receive payment from any other employer in the U.S. (including honoraria).
  • H-1B is location specific - work that will be performed outside of Austin or a change in departments during the approved H-1B status may require an amendment of the H-1B petition.
  • H-1B is time specific - the H-1B status can initially be granted for a period of up to 3 years, which is renewable for a maximum of 6 years, with few exceptions.

Maintaining H-1B Status

H-1B employees must maintain H-1B status by:

  • Engaging only in those activities specified within the corresponding H-1B petition. Change in duties, job title or salary must be disclosed promptly to an International Faculty & Scholar Advisor.
  • Monitoring the need for appropriate extensions.
  • Refraining from unauthorized employment.
  • Maintaining a valid passport at all times while in the United States. Copies of new or extended passports should be provided to International Student & Scholar Services (ISSS).
  • Reporting changes of address to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services within 10 days by submitting Form AR-11.

Traveling and H-1B Status

While traveling in H-1B status, it is important to carry your original I-797 H-1B Approval Notice, valid passport, valid H-1B visa and current proof of your employment. Please note that being in valid H-1B status is not the same as having a valid H-1B Visa. H-1B status holders will need to apply for an H-1B visa to re-enter the country after international travel. For information on obtaining a visa, visit the website of the U.S. Consulate in your home country and review our page How to Apply for an H-1B Visa. International travel plans should account for potential delays while obtaining the visa at the U.S. Consulate. If you would like to check out your original I-797 H-1B Approval Notice for travel or if you have further questions about traveling or applying for a visa, please schedule an appointment for Faculty & Scholar Advising.

Extending H-1B Status

The length of time an individual may remain in the U.S. in H-1B status is indicated on I-94 Arrival / Departure record. Ordinarily, the date on the I-94 should be consistent with the H-1B approval notice on form I-797.

Please report any inconsistencies immediately to an International Faculty & Scholar Advisor. If an extension is needed, the department must initiate the process by contacting ISSS 6-8 months prior to the current H-1B expiration. The H-1B status holder will need to provide supporting documentation for the H-1B extension petition, as reflected on the ISSS website.

Understanding H-1B Immigration Documents

This important Department of Homeland Security document allows an individual to remain in the United States in the indicated nonimmigrant visa status up until the date specified on the I-94 Arrival / Departure record. The expiration date follows the phrase “valid until” and is evidence of the H-1B status holder’s authorization to accept employment in the United States with the petitioning employer. The I-94 record should be reviewed for accuracy upon each entry to the United States.

The H-1B petition is filed on Form I-129 to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to request H-1B status for an individual. ISSS prepares and files the H-1B petitions for The University of Texas at Austin. Changes in the details of employment (e.g. salary, job title, job duties, etc.) may require the university to file an amended H-1B petition.

The Labor Condition Application (LCA) is filed with the Department of Labor on Form ETA-9035. The LCA outlines the conditions of H-1B employment and The University is required by law to follow these conditions. Changes in employment conditions (e.g. salary, job title, etc.) may require a new LCA.

Upon adjudication of an H-1B Petition, the United States Citizenship & Immigration Services issues a Notice of Action on Form I-797, which reflects the approval of H-1B status for an individual. This document, along with the Arrival/Departure Record on Form I-94, is the official documentation of an H-1B status holder’s authorization to work in the U.S. The original Notice of Action resides with The University of Texas at Austin, and the H-1B status holder is provided with a copy of the form. For international travel, the H-1B status holder should check out the original Form I-797 to carry along with the passport, visa, Form I-94, and ideally a letter of employment.

In order to enter the United States in H-1B status, a valid H-1B visa is required. A U.S. Embassy or Consulate General outside of the U.S. issues the H-1B visa. Please note that H-1B status is not the same as the H-1B visa. Therefore, an H-1B status holder who was granted H-1B status within the U.S. will still need to obtain the H-1B visa upon the first trip outside of the United States. In addition, expiration of an H-1B visa in the passport does not necessarily mean that H-1B status has expired.