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H-1B employment status may be requested on behalf of international individual 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). 

A new employee will work with their supervisor to submit a request for H-1B status through iCAT. International employees will need to upload supporting documents and complete various e-Forms when prompted. If you are applying from abroad, you will also need to have a visa interview.  ISSS will answer any questions you may have throughout this process and provide information regarding the maintenance of your status as well as provide supporting documentation as necessary for various immigration related services.

Maintaining Status

  • Your H-1B status depends upon your employment. When your employment ends, your status ends and you must leave the US. There is no grace period. 

  • The H-1B status is employer-specific.  You are only authorized to work and/or receive payment from the University of Kentucky.  This includes occasional speeches/lectures at other institutes or conferences.  

  • Document any time spent outside the US while you are in H-1B status. This time may be reclaimed later if necessary. Evidence of your absence will be passport Entry/Exit stamps, I-94 print out, and airline tickets. 

  • If you and your department want to continue your employment after your initial approval ends, have your supervisor contact us at least 6 months ahead of time so we can process an extension. 

  • If the terms of your employment change, such as duties, title or location, salary, you must notify our office. 

  • You must show your original I-797 for a Kentucky driver’s license application. 

  • Notify our office if you leave your employment at the University. 

  • If you travel outside the U.S., notify us so we can make sure you have the appropriate documents. 

  • Your department must start your H-1B request. The department supervisor or his/her designate will follow these instructions to request access to iCAT

Traveling and Obtaining Initial H1-B Visa Stamp

If you plan to travel outside the US and have changed your status to H1b inside the country, you obtain an H1b visa stamp at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate in order to re-enter the country.  

Be sure to make an appointment at the consulate before you leave the US. Sometimes getting an appointment can take a long time. Check your consulate’s website. Also, discuss your travel plans with your H-1B Advisor. 


You will need to present the following documentation to apply for the visa: 

  1. Original Form I-797A (H1-B Approval Notice for your current position) 
  1. Copies of Form ETA-9035 Labor Conditions Application (LCA) and Form I-129 (petition for H1-B submitted to USCIS on your behalf)—provided by our office 
  1. Letter from your department confirming employment and that you are expected to return to U.S. to resume the terms of your contract 
  1. Original Waiver Approval (Form I-612) of the two year home residency requirement (if you were previously in J-1 visa status and received a waiver) 
  1. Valid passport (valid 6 months into the future) 

      6.Form DS-160 (available online at your U.S. Embassy abroad) 

  1. Please contact the specific U.S. Consulate or Embassy where you plan to apply for other requirements, including photos and fees. Also, note that some Consulates and Embassies have recently changed to an appointment system. Please confirm application procedures prior to your trip. For more information on application for a U.S. visa, visit these State Department sites on the Internet: 

Links to U.S. Embassies and Consulates Worldwide: 

      8. On rare occasions, some individuals may be subject to a higher level of security clearance leading to              extremely lengthy processing times.

H-4 Visa Information (for spouse and children)

For dependents applying for an H-4 visa abroad, the following documentation must be provided: 

  1. Valid passport (valid 6 months into the future) 
  1. Proof of relationship with the H-1B holder 
  1. Original I-797A 
  1. Copy of H-1B holder’s I-797A  

When dependents holding H4 status enter the US, they should present the I-797 approval to the immigration officer to assure they receive the I-94 entry stamp until the H1B program end date. This is very important to those whose visa stamps are issued for only a short duration. 

NOTE:  If you are on H-1B and wish to add a dependent at a later date, please contact the ISSS office and/or H-1B Advisor for further instructions.

Documents for Travel Outside the U.S.

To reenter the U.S., you will need the following: 

  1. Valid passport 
  1. Original Form I-797 (H-1B Approval Notice for your current position).  
  1. Letter from your employer stating that you are currently employed and will return for continuation of employment. 
  1. Valid H1-B visa stamp in your passport. If you do not have a valid H-1B visa stamp in your passport, you must apply for one at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad.

Visa Renewal

If you have an H-1B visa stamp and it has expired, you may obtain a revalidated stamp in person at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad (see information above).

Extension of Status

Please note in order to continue employment and also to receive a salary from the University, application for extension of should be initiated no less than 6 months in advance of the date of expiration of current stay (see UKIC website).  Please ask your supervisor to contact us for an extension of stay.

Driver's License

Non-US citizens can drive up to one-year on their foreign country license as long as that country is a part of the Geneva Compact. To find out if your home country is part of the Geneva Compact, please visit 

  • The one-year date comes from the entry date stamped on their immigration document such as the I-94. 
  • If you are from a country that is not recognized by the Geneva Compact ,the non-US citizen cannot drive on their foreign license.  

Applications for a Kentucky drivers license can be made at the address below: 

The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) 

141 Leestown Center Way, Suite 125

Lexington, KY  40511

Phone: (859) 963-4018 

The following information is required at the time of application:   

  • Visa, Passport, I-94 
  • Employment Verification letter from University of Kentuck HR (Scovell Hall main office)  
  • Proof of Address within the last 60 days 
  • H-1B Approval (I-797A) 
  • Social Security card, Tax ID number, or an Ineligibility letter from the Social Security Administration 
  • Bring at least $60 for fees associated with applying for the license 

KRS 186.412 requires all non U.S. citizens wishing to apply for a Kentucky driver's license or ID card to make application to a Division of Driver Licensing Regional Office.  For more information about the rules for obtaining a Kentucky Driver’s License, please go to: 

NOTE: Non-immigrants are not allowed to register to vote. Please check "NO" when asked in your application.

Social Security Number

H-1B’s are eligible to apply for a permanent social security number. It is advised to wait 10 days from the date of entry to the U.S. before going to the Social Security Office and applying for the number.  Failure to wait 10 days can result in delays to obtain your social security card. 

It is strongly recommend that you do not move to a new apartment or home after applying for the social security number since social security cards are not forwarded to a new address.  The card will ultimately be returned to the social security office which will cause delays in you receiving it.   

The wait time to receive a social security card varies from a few weeks to a few months. 

Below you will find further information regarding the social security card process: 

Social Security Office Information  


Social Security Administration 

Suite 110 

2241 Buena Vista Rd. 

Lexington, Kentucky 40505                        


9:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.  -    Monday through Friday 


859-294-5753 or 1-800-772-1213 

Directions by bus: 

You can take the city bus by going to the LEXTRAN Transit Center on 220 Vine Street in downtown Lexington.  Take Bus Route #10.  Ask the driver to let you off at the Social Security Office.  It is an approximate 10 to 15 minute bus ride from the Transit Center to the Social Security Office on Executive Drive.  The driver will turn left onto Executive Drive.  You can either get off at 2260 Executive Drive or at the intersection of Buena Vista Rd. and Thunderstick Dr. The Social Security Office is a short walk away from the bus stop. 

For the return trip, go to the bus stop at 2260 Executive Drive.  There is a blue sign with a white bus to help mark the bus pick-up location. Please visit for more information regarding route times and cost. 

You will need the following documents to present to the Social Security officer:  Passport, H-1B Approval Notice (I-797A), I-94 card, and Employment Verification letter from HR (Scovell Hall).