UKIC / International Student & Scholar Services / Hiring International Faculty & Staff / Hiring H-1B Candidates

Hiring H-1B Candidates

H-1B Temporary Worker Status

H-1B employment status may be requested on behalf of non-immigrants seeking employment in a specialty occupation. A specialty occupation is defined by U.S. immigration regulation as an occupation "which requires a theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge and attainment of a baccalaureate or higher degree or its equivalent as a minimum requirement for entry into the occupation." 214.2(h)(4)(i)(A)(1). 

The University of Kentucky has determined that this status is appropriate for faculty, researchers, post-doctoral scholars, and others who meet the regulatory definition. 

To make a request for H-1B employment status please review the steps in the H-1B Application Process section below. 

International Student and Scholar Services for H-1B workers 
Nearly all H-1B requests are handled by this office but a few departments may need to retain the services of immigration attorney depending on the type and level of the position. In all cases, the attorney represents the university, therefore, departments must work with ISSS to facilitate this process. 

Exceptions must be discussed with the director of ISSS.

Advantages & Disadvantages

Advantages of H-1B Status

The H-1B status may be obtained for an initial period of not more than three years but may be extended up to a maximum of six years. This category benefits from the concept of "dual intent." This means that persons applying abroad for an H-1B visa need not prove to the U.S. consular official an intent to return to their home country, as opposed to other non-immigrant visa applicants. H-1B holders may seek a change of status to any other non-immigrant or immigrant status for which they are eligible.

Disadvantages of H1-B Status

Applications for H-1B require extensive documentation, and the employer must pay 100 percent of the "prevailing wage" set by the State Workforce Agency (SWA) for the occupation in which the international is to be employed. 

UK departments should allow approximately four to five months for processing of the H-1B application. This includes preparation by UKIC and U.S. Citizenship Immigration Services (USCIS) processing time. H-1B holders are subject to Social Security taxes from the date they start working. Accompanying H-4 dependents may not seek employment in the U.S., but they are allowed to study.

Different Positions

Positions Requiring a Bachelor's Degree

H-1B sponsorship for positions requiring a bachelor's degree must be reviewed by the Director of International Student & Scholar Services (ISSS). If this request is approved, the H-1B application may require the services of an attorney and further instructions will be sent to the department. If the request is denied, the H-1B process may not be sought through any other means. 

NOTE: When an H-1B petition is filed by an outside attorney, all subsequent extensions of status or amendments must also be filed by an attorney, not by ISSS staff. 

To begin this process, contact ISSS Director Elizabeth Leibach at

Positions Not Sponsored by UK for H1-B Status

  • Post-Doctoral Fellows: Fellows are supported by training awards instead of salaries. They are considered post-doctoral students, not employees, and therefore not eligible for H-1B status. For more information, see the  administrative regulations on the UK Human Resources website. 
  • Part-time Positions: UK does not sponsor H-1B status for part-time positions. The record keeping requirements for such applications are burdensome for the hiring department, and experience has shown that part-time workers often leave as soon as full-time employment is found. Additionally, a part-time position often does not warrant the high cost of the H-1B application. 
  • Medical Residents: Residents are normally sponsored by the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates and are given J-1 status. When there are extenuating circumstances for which an H-1B visa might be warranted for a medical resident or for any other resident managed by the Graduate Medical Education office, approval from the Provost's office must be sought. The program director should contact the Director of Graduate Medical Education in advance of either ranking the resident application (for a "Match" position) or offering a position (if not a "Match" position), for assistance in preparing the paperwork to request the needed approval. 
  • J Visa Holders: J-1 scholars or J-2 dependents who have been in J status for fewer than two years are not eligible for UK sponsorship for the H-1B. 
  • NOTE: These are UK guidelines, not immigration regulations.

H-1B Fees

International Services Fees

International Student & Scholars Services (ISSS) charges a department fee for the H-1B processing and advising needs of international employees. The fee must be paid by the department and the payment must be processed through a JV by our office. (Note: Fees cannot be charged to grants). 

$1,460- Initial H-1B Request (OR) $1,460- Extension/Amended H-1B Request.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Processing Fees

  • $460 -Petition for H-1B Worker required for all filings
  • $500 - Anti-Fraud Fee (one-time fee for new employees only) 
  • $2,500 - Premium Processing (expedited processing) Fee (Note: This is an optional fee but may be recommended by ISSS for some cases.)

H1-B Application Process

Requesting H-1B Employment Status for a UK Employee

If you are new to this process your first step is to gain access to iCAT, our online system for submitting H-1B requests. Requests for H-1B status must be submitted through this system. See Request iCAT Access Instructions  for help or call Josh Burke at 859-257-7858.

Once you have been granted permission to iCAT follow the H-1B Instructions to submit a request to the H-1B Faculty/Staff Advisor.

If you are new to this process or you need a refresher course, consider setting up an individual meeting with UK's H-1B Faculty/Staff Advisor, William Arnold, before submitting any documentation. If your department would like a group training, complete a request for training  and we'll be glad to arrange a training workshop for your specific college or department. 

Departments seeking an H-1B for a position, which requires a bachelor’s degree should check the Eligible Positions section on this page for more information.

Timeline and Determining the Start Date of H-1B Status

Departments must allow approximately 180 days from the time a request is submitted to ISSS (submission of a completed Assessment Packet) in order to avoid any additional government processing fees. Departments must consider the following factors in deciding a reasonable start date and/or whether expedited government processing may be required: 

  • An employee’s personal or work related travel itineraries (employees should inform departments as soon as possible) 
  • Expiration of current visa status, gaps in current work authorization including an employee changing to H-1B status or “porting” a current H-1B visa status. 
  • Potential delays caused by requests for more evidence from the U.S. Dept. of Labor or U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services 
  • Hiring or selection dates which are within 6 weeks from the requested date (from submission of a completed H-1B Assessment Packet) 
  • Cases in which the individual is currently outside of the U.S. (or will be required to travel outside of the U.S. before beginning employment) 
  • Pre-filing preparation and processing required for ISSS (typically 4-6 weeks) as well as USCIS processing times

Many of above factors are out of the control of ISSS. Therefore, departments must allow ample time to complete the H-1B process given all possible factors. ISSS is unable to process incomplete packets and packets will be returned to the sponsoring department. Any request that does not allow 6 months for processing may be required to pay the additional Premium Processing fee. 

To comply with university policy, departments should also inform their candidates that obtaining H-1B status on their behalf does not obligate the university to sponsor the employee for permanent residence. Such sponsorship is left to the discretion of hiring officials.

H-1B Documents Needed

Employee Documents

H-1B advisors will receive the department’s completed assessment packet which will include the following documents: 

  • Current CV or resume. 
  • Passport biographical page, showing picture and validity dates, as well as any renewal pages. 
  • Copy of the approved waiver of Two-Year Home Country Residency Requirement (if currently in J-1 or J-2 status and subject; if not subject, include copy of visa page in passport), find the form below. 
  • Copy of diploma (highest academic degree). If the degree was attained outside the U.S., a certified translation and evaluation must accompany the diploma.  Evaluations may be obtained from Foreign Credential Service of America at or other certified credential evaluators. 
  • Copy of all I-20’s (if F-1 or F-2 status); DS-2019 (if J-1 or J-2 status); I-797 (if in H-1 status); or H-4 approvals (if in H-4 status). 
  • Candidates currently in H-1B or TN status at another institution must demonstrate continuous employment for the entire time in H-1B or TN status. Submit copies of W-2 forms and/or 1099 forms and most recent pay-stubs. 
  • Copy of most recent form I-94. 
  • Copy of Employment Authorization . 

A complete list of documents is available in the iCAT online H-1B Assessment Forms.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is H-1B status or an H-1B visa?

H-1B is a dual intent (immigrant/non-immigrant) status that allows employment. It is sought on behalf of international workers who are in specialty occupations and who will be hired to perform services of an exceptional nature requiring merit and ability. 

The status can be held for up to six years. The H-1B visa refers to the visa stamp in the passport. The stamp is necessary for entering the U.S. and must be obtained at an American consulate outside the country.

How does a department apply for H-1B visa status for a new employee?

First, the department must initiate the application by contacting one of the H-1B advisors. The advisor will send an assessment form to be completed by the department and the candidate seeking the H-1B status. Further paperwork needed for the case will be explained at that time.

Can a candidate apply without the department’s involvement?

No, the H-1B is employer driven, so the employer must petition U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services for the status with the employee as the beneficiary.

The person we’ve just hired already has H-1B status at another university. Can this candidate work at UK on that authorization?

No, the H-1B category allows employment incident to status only with an employer who has had an H-1B petition approved by USCIS on behalf of the beneficiary. Although H-1B nonimmigrants may have occasion to make occasional speeches and lectures at other institutions or at conferences, they may not receive compensation (e.g. wage or salary) for these activities. 

However, reasonable reimbursement (non-compensation) of travel expenses (transportation, hotel, lodging etc.) may be permitted by some employers based on institutional policies.

Who pays the fees?

According to Federal Register: 20.C.F.R. 655.731 (c) (3) (iii) (C) (7) & (12), filing fees "connected to the performances of the H-1B program functions which are required to be performed by the employer" are considered to be "employer business expenses," thus, these are the responsibility of the department. 

Were an H-1B employee to pay these fees, the payment might be viewed under the regulations as an unauthorized deduction from the employee's salary. 

Attorney fees (if applicable) are included in this regulation. The UK candidate must be reimbursed for any attorney fees associated with an H-1B application.

What about the family members? Does the department pay for them?

No. Any fees related to the dependents' H-4 status is paid by the H-1B holder.

How long does it take to get the H-1B approval?

Processing times vary and ISSS recommends that departments allow 180 days for this entire process. Pre-filing preparation and processing required for ISSS is typically 4-6 weeks coupled by the USCIS processing time which is currently taking approximately 5.5 - 7.5 months. 

However, by requesting the USCIS Premium Processing service adjudication can be expected in approximately 2-3 weeks from the time the application is received by USCIS. It is not possible to expedite pre-filing preparation involving the U.S. Dept. of Labor and ISSS preparation.

Does the department need an immigration attorney for the H-1B application process?

International Student & Scholar Services in the University of Kentucky International Center prepares H-1B applications for positions that require a master’s degree or Ph.D. An immigration attorney must be retained for positions that require only a bachelor’s degree.

Is there an automatic grace period at the end of H-1B status?

No. An H-1B beneficiary must leave the U.S. by the last day of H-1B status or risk accruing unlawful presence.

Can an H-1B employee go on leave without pay?

It depends on the circumstances. Even if an H-1B worker is not performing duties, regulations may require that the full wages still be paid during that nonproductive period. (20 CFR 655.731(c)(7)). UKY must continue paying full wages if the H-1B worker is not carrying out their duties due to: 

  • A decision by the employer (e.g. because of lack of assigned work); 
  • Lack of a permit or license; or 
  • Any other reason except as specified below. 

An H-1B worker can go on LWOP if: 

  • During the LWOP period, payment of wages is not required under UH’s benefit plan or any statutes (such as the Family and Medical Leave Act or the Americans with Disabilities Act); 
  • Conditions unrelated to employment are what take the H-1B worker away from their duties; and 
  • The LWOP period is at the worker’s voluntary request and convenience (e.g. touring the U.S., caring for ill relative) or due to circumstances which render the worker unable to work (e.g. maternity leave, car accident which temporarily incapacitates him/her).

Can any H-1B employee receive an honorarium or reimbursement from another employer?

It depends on the type of payment. Because H-1B classification is employer-specific, an H-1B worker who does not have an H-1B approval notice from an employer may not receive a salary, honorarium, fee, or any other payment that might resemble compensation for services. The employer may choose to reimburse an H-1B holder for actual expenses incurred (e.g. airfare, lodging, transportation, etc.) but that should be discussed with the employer in advance.