H-1B Sponsorship Process

The H-1B sponsorship process is lengthy and complex and involves various government agencies. Each H-1B case is unique, depending on the specific job sought as well as the immigration history and/or current immigration status of the prospective H-1B employee. In the context of the H-1B sponsorship process, the prospective foreign national employee is known as the “beneficiary” and the employer is known as the “petitioner.”

Please note that any estimated government processing times and/or filing fees are determined by the U.S. government and are subject to change at any time without notice.

H-1B Process Overview

To obtain H-1B sponsorship for a foreign employee, the employer must submit an H-1B petition to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The H-1B petition is an application package that is comprised of several specific governmental forms as well as supporting documentation from the petitioning employer and the H-1B beneficiary. The preparation of an H-1B petition takes a significant amount of time and effort, as this is a lengthy and complex application.

H-1B Petition Preparation and Submission

In general, the preparation of an H-1B petition follows these stages:

  1. Prevailing wage determination – The employer must obtain a prevailing wage determination for the specific occupation. If it is necessary for the employer to obtain the prevailing wage determination from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), this will take a significant amount of time, as DOL prevailing wage determinations can take several months. A prevailing wage determination is required before the employer can proceed with the labor condition application.
  2. Labor condition application – After the prevailing wage determination has been received, if the offered wage meets the DOL wage requirements, the employer can move forward with filing a labor condition application (LCA) with the DOL. The LCA attests that the employer will comply with DOL requirements for employing a worker in H-1B status. An approved LCA is a required component of an H-1B petition.
  3. H-1B petition – Once the LCA has been approved, the employer can move forward with preparing and submitting the H-1B petition. Several forms are required as part of the H-1B petition. The main form is USCIS Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker. The employer is required to submit multiple supporting documents along with the required forms. In addition, the employer is required to pay the USCIS filing fees associated with the H-1B petition.

Once the H-1B petition is complete, the employer submits the petition to USCIS. Once USCIS receives the petition, USCIS will issue a receipt notice with a case number, indicating the receipt of the specific H-1B petition.

USCIS Adjudication

USCIS processing times for H-1B petitions are highly variable and are subject to change at any time. USCIS standard processing times generally average about six months.

If expedited processing is necessary, the employer has the option to request premium processing of the H-1B petition for an additional fee. Premium processing generally guarantees adjudication within 15 calendar days. If USCIS sends a request for additional evidence (RFE) to the petitioner, the RFE will effectively “pause” the premium processing clock until the additional evidence is submitted to USCIS.

If USCIS approves the H-1B petition, USCIS will issue Form I-797 Notice of Action, also known as the H-1B approval notice. The H-1B approval notice is a legal document sent to the employer when an H-1B petition has been approved. The I-797 H-1B approval notice will indicate the employer’s name, the beneficiary’s name, and the dates of approval of H-1B status. The I-797 H-1B approval notice is a paper document that is sent to the petitioning employer via regular U.S. mail.

If the H-1B beneficiary is outside of the United States, the beneficiary must use the H-1B approval notice to apply for an H-1B visa at a U.S. embassy/consulate abroad. Refer to the Applying for an H-1B Visa page for more details.

If the H-1B beneficiary is inside of the United States in another nonimmigrant status, and the employer has requested a change of status along with the H-1B petition, then the beneficiary’s legal status will change on the start date indicated on the H-1B approval notice. Refer to the H-1B Change of Status page for more details.

MUSC H-1B Sponsorship Process

At MUSC, the Center for Global Health coordinates and prepares H-1B petitions on behalf of MUSC colleges and departments. In certain cases, the hiring MUSC department will contract with MUSC’s authorized outside legal counsel to prepare and submit the H-1B petition. H-1B petitions prepared by MUSC’s outside legal counsel are still coordinated through the Center for Global Health and processed through Terra Dotta, MUSC’s software for international students, scholars and staff.

The H-1B process begins when the hiring MUSC department submits a new H-1B sponsorship request to the Center for Global Health through Terra Dotta. Please note that the hiring MUSC department must initiate the H-1B request. The H-1B applicant/beneficiary cannot initiate the process.

Once the H-1B request is submitted by the sponsoring MUSC department, you (the H-1B applicant) will receive an email with notifying you to log into the system to provide documents and information for the request. Be sure to read all instructions and documents provided within the system. Refer to the H-1B Beneficiary Documents List for more details on the required documents. It is important that you submit all required documents and information in Terra Dotta as soon as possible. In addition, the hiring MUSC department will also be required to provide certain documents and information in Terra Dotta for your H-1B petition request.

This processing time for the H-1B petition requests is highly variable and depends on the total processing office caseload volume at the time the complete H-1B application is submitted. Oftentimes, the processing office is waiting to receive the required information and/or the filing fees from the hiring MUSC department before being able to move forward with the H-1B petition preparation steps. If you have questions about the status of your H-1B petition, please contact the Center for Global Health.

You will be notified by the Center for Global Health once your H-1B petition has been submitted to USCIS. You will also be notified if your H-1B petition is approved by USCIS. Please note that MUSC cannot guarantee favorable adjudication of H-1B petitions. Approval of H-1B petitions is at the sole discretion of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

If the H-1B petition is approved, the next steps will depend on what type of H-1B petition was submitted (consular process, change of status, extension, change of employer). Refer to the following pages for more information: