SPECIAL NOTE REGARDING PREVAILING WAGE PROCESSING
Current processing times for obtaining a Prevailing Wage Determination (PWD) from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) is approximately 12-16 weeks. The Office of Immigration encourages you to reach out to us to start the PWD process as early as possible, even if it is not certain that you will hire an international employee in need of H-1B support.
The H-1B temporary work visa is a “specialty occupation” which is defined as an occupation that requires a “theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge and attainment of a bachelor’s degree or higher as the minimum requirement”. To qualify for H-1B sponsorship, a position must require someone with special qualifications and the applicant must meet the minimum requirements.
To sponsor an H-1B worker, the hiring department, through the Office of Immigration, must file petitions with the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) indicating that the university will appoint and pay the individual the required salary. The USCIS will ultimately determine whether or not the individual qualifies for the H-1B work visa.
In general, to be eligible for H-1B sponsorship, the position must be full-time and require a minimum of a bachelor’s degree, and the sponsored employee must meet that requirement and possess any necessary licensure.
Some individuals, even if they meet the degree and licensure requirements, may not be eligible for H-1B status based on their immigration history. Those who have already used the six-year limit on H-1B status are ineligible for an additional period of H-1B status until they have resided and been physically outside of the U.S. for at least one year. Similarly, those who are subject to the 212(e) Two-Year Home Residency Requirement based on their current or prior J-1/J-2 Exchange Visitor status are ineligible for H-1B status until they have either fulfilled the requirement or obtained a waiver through the Department of State and USCIS.
Questions regarding H-1B eligibility and sponsorship should be directed to the Office of Immigration.
In order to sponsor an employee for an H-1B visa, the university must pay at least the prevailing wage or the actual wage, whichever is higher.
- Prevailing Wage: The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) calculates the prevailing wage as the average salary or wage for similarly employed workers in the area of intended employment. Current processing times for obtaining a Prevailing Wage Determination (PWD) from the DOL is approximately 12-16 weeks. Departments should start the PWD process as early as possible, even if it is not certain that an international employee in need of H-1B support will be hired. Departments in the midst of a search or will be beginning a search that has a possibility of an international hire, should complete a H-1B Packet Appendix A: Part 2 (available on page 5 of the H-1B Application Packet (PDF)) and send it to Maurice Chavarry at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com as soon as possible. We can begin the PWD process based on a few key details from the job posting well in advance of a possible job offer. Additionally, this part of the process will not commit South to hiring an individual or to sponsorship of an H-1B; it simply helps us to get an official wage determination from DOL.
- Actual Wage: Human Resources determines the Actual Wage. The Office of Immigration will request the actual wage when the department submits a completed H-1B Application Packet (PDF).
USCIS H-1B processing times vary and can take up to 9 months or more. The Office of Immigration can only provide an estimate of the timing for a particular petition. We recommend that departments initiate an application as early as 9 months before the desired H-1B start date, which will allow time to obtain a Prevailing Wage Determination (PWD) from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) and file the H-1B petition with USCIS. Expedited processing, or “premium processing,” is available for a $2500 fee; this guarantees a decision by USCIS within 15 calendar days. However, the “premium processing” expedited service with USCIS does not affect the amount of time it will take to get a PWD from the DOL. The Office of Immigration requires 12-16 weeks to obtain a PWD and then prepare and submit an H-1B petition.
Required Fees. Departments are required to pay certain processing fee(s) for their employee’s H-1B petition. USCIS basic I-129 application fee is $460. In addition, departments must pay a $500 anti-fraud fee for initial H-1B petitions and for cases in which USA is filing a change of employer petition (“portability”) for someone who already holds H-1B status with another employer. Extension petitions do not require the anti-fraud fee. USA Health must use a University-approved immigration attorney to file their petitions. The immigration attorney handling fee is approximately $2,500 depending on the attorney the department chooses (see below for University-approved immigration attorney options). The employee may not hire their own attorney and cannot pay these fees.
Optional Fees. In certain circumstances when Premium Processing is the only option for a timely approval, the department will be asked to pay the additional fee of $2500. If the employee requests premium processing, and it is not an employment necessity, either the department or the individual may pay the additional $2500 fee to USCIS. The employee is responsible for paying fees for dependents needing to apply for a change-of-status to or extend H4 dependent status.
The University of South Alabama does not support H-1B petitions for part-time employment unless an extenuating exception exists.
The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) require mechanisms for capturing hours worked/leave time and accurate records of “hours worked each day and each week.” Furthermore, DOL and DHS require a system to track this information must be in place, and records must be retained for 3 years from the date of creation. This creates a burden that makes sponsorship of part-time H-1Bs difficult.
*Any exceptions to this practice must be approved by Human Resources.