H-1B Sponsorship Process

The H-1B process is lengthy and complex, involving various government agencies. To obtain H-1B status on behalf of a foreign employee, MUSC must submit an H-1B petition to the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), US Department of Homeland Security. At MUSC, the Center for Global Health (CGH) coordinates and prepares H-1B petitions on behalf of MUSC colleges and departments. 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 beneficiary.

Process Overview

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

  1. Prevailing wage determination – The Center for Global Health requests a prevailing wage determination from the US Department of Labor. This is required for all H-1B petitions. CGH must first receive certain information about the proposed employment from the sponsoring MUSC department before requesting the prevailing wage. The Department of Labor is currently taking approximately 5 months to issue prevailing wage determinations. This process cannot be expedited.
  2. Labor condition application – After the prevailing wage determination has been received, if the offered wage meets the US DOL wage requirements for H-1B employees, CGH can move forward with filing a labor condition application (LCA) with the Department of Labor. The LCA attests that the employer will comply with the Department of Labor 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, CGH can move forward with preparing the H-1B petition. CGH will complete several forms as part of the H-1B petition (such as USCIS form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker). CGH must have all of the necessary supporting documents from both the hiring MUSC department and the H-1B beneficiary in order to prepare the petition. CGH must also have the checks for the USCIS filing fees to file with the petition. USCIS processing times for H-1B petitions are highly variable and frequently change. Current estimated USCIS processing times are averaging around 4 to 8 months. There is an option to expedite this stage of the process, called premium processing, which costs an additional fee.

Please be advised that any estimated processing times are subject to change without notice due to changes in the regulations and/or backlogs within a particular government agency. CGH cannot control delays of this nature and therefore cannot guarantee an adjudication date. Furthermore, CGH cannot guarantee favorable adjudication of any H-1B petitions.

The H-1B process begins when an MUSC department submits a case request to the Center for Global Health to sponsor an H-1B beneficiary. Please note that an MUSC department must initiate the H-1B case – a foreign national cannot make the request directly to CGH. Once a case has been initiated by the hiring department, you will be contacted by e-mail with instructions on how to submit the necessary information and what documents are required for your specific case.

Supporting Documents

MUSC is required to submit certain supporting documents to USCIS along with the H-1B petition. Generally, prospective H-1B beneficiaries are required to submit the following documents:

  • Copy of biographic page of valid passport
  • Curriculum vitae (CV)
  • Copy of educational degree certificates and academic transcripts (also known as academic records)
  • Credential evaluation—A credential evaluation is required if you obtained your highest degree at an institution outside of the United States. You are responsible for obtaining and submitting the credential evaluation. Please see the list of credential evaluation service providers (PDF).
  • Copy of any current or previous immigration documents (I-797s, DS-2019s, I-20s, EAD cards, etc.) (if applicable)
  • Copy of any professional licenses or credentials that are necessary for the professions (if applicable)

If you are already in the US, the following will be also required:

  • Copy of I-94 record
  • Copy of any current or previous US visa stamps in your passport
  • Copy of three most recent paystubs (if currently in an employment-based status)
  • Copy of any current or previous immigration documents (I-797s, DS-2019s, I-20s, EAD cards, approval notices, etc)

Medical doctors who will be working in a clinical capacity should refer to the Physicians section for additional requirements.

All documents must be in English or be accompanied by certified English translations. You cannot translate your own documents—the documents must be translated by a certified professional translation service. This is especially important when it comes to degree certificates and academic transcripts.

It is important that you submit your documents to CGH as soon as possible. CGH cannot make any determinations regarding the eligibility of a prospective foreign employee to hold H-1B status without reviewing his/her documents.

USCIS Form I-797 H-1B Approval Notice

USCIS Form I-797 Notice of Action is a legal document sent to the employer when its petition for H-1B status has been adjudicated. The I-797 will indicate if the H-1B petition has been approved and the validity dates for H-1B status. The I-797 is also referred to as the H-1B approval notice.

The H-1B approval notice provides evidence of your nonimmigrant status while in the US. The H-1B approval notice and a copy of the complete H-1B petition will be needed in order to apply for an H-1B visa at a US embassy/consulate. You will be required to present your H-1B approval notice when completing an I-9 form for payroll purposes. You will also need the H-1B approval notice for other instances in which you need to prove your legal nonimmigrant status, such as applying for a South Carolina driver’s license or applying for a Social Security number. You will also need to bring your original H-1B approval notice with you each time that you travel outside of the US during your time in H-1B status.