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International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) provides information and assistance to colleges and departments as they seek to employ or host international faculty and staff at the University of Kentucky. All UK departments and centers should consult with the appropriate ISSS advisor before making any offer of employment to a candidate who holds a current non-immigrant visa status in the U.S. or who resides outside the United States.  

Check out the information below to learn about the most commonly sponsored visa types.  Please feel free to contact us and we’ll guide you through the entire process. We also orient visitors by offering visa-specific immigration advising and information about living and working in the United States.

The following visa categories and guidelines are not meant to be exhaustive. They have been prepared to provide a starting point for departments requiring the services of ISSS with respect to the hiring of non-immigrants.  

Inviting J-1 Exchange Visitors

University departments wishing to invite J-1 Exchange Visitors should follow the steps below.  

If this is your department’s first time inviting or hiring a J-1 Exchange Visitor, please request access to our immigration software system, iCAT. To request permission, please follow instructions at Request Access Instructions. Department and/or college requests will continue to be limited to those who have been pre-approved and vetted through appropriate department channels.  Permission will be limited to no more than two people per department.  

J-1 Processing Fees:  

International Student & Scholars Services (ISSS) charges a department fee for the processing and advising needs of J-1 exchange visitors and their dependents. 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). 

$393 - Initial DS-2019 Request

(OR) $275 - Revision/Extension

Steps for Inviting J-1 Exchange Visitors

Step 1: Determine the Start Date of J-1 Status

Please keep in mind that the requested start should be at least 60 days in the future at the time that the DS-2019 is created. It can take varying lengths of time to complete the application process.  Departments must consider the following factors in deciding a reasonable start date:  

  • 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 J-1 status or “transferring” a current J-1 visa.  
  • Potential delays due to administrative processing by the U.S. Embassies in adjudicating the visa. 
  • Hiring or selection dates which will not allow enough time for visa appointments. 
  • Pre-filing preparation and processing times required for ISSS (typically 2-3 weeks). 
  • Programs should not begin on official university holidays or closures (eg. Winter Break, Independence Day, etc.). 

Many of above factors are out of the control of ISSS. Therefore, departments must allow ample time to complete the J-1 visa process given all possible factors. ISSS is unable to process incomplete requests. 

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

Step 2: Review Financial Requirements

Funding must be secured for the entirety of the initial period requested.  The minimum funding required is: 

  • J-1 Exchange Visitor Scholar only is $1,834/month or $22,000/year (except J-1 Student Intern which is $1500/month or $18,000/year)
  • J-2 Spouse is an additional $567/month or $6,800/year 
  • J-2 Child (per Child) is an additional $392/month or $4,700/year 

Documentation of funding must be provided for all sources outside of UK departmental funding. English translations and a currency conversion sheet (we recommend taking a screenshot from must be uploaded into iCAT along with the original funding document if it is in a language other than English or a currency other than USD.

Step 3: Obtain Personal Data Information

When submitting your application, you will need to know: 

  • If the EV has previously entered the USA as a J-1 or J-2 exchange visitor 
  • The EVs citizenship information (including citizenship, nationality, and city of birth) 
  •  If the Exchange Visitor will be bringing a spouse or any children with them as dependents 

Copies of passports will need to be uploaded to iCAT for the Exchange Visitor and any dependents. A marriage certificate is required if the Exchange Visitor will bring a spouse.

Step 4: Determine English Proficiency

Determine that the candidate has sufficient English skills (including verbal communication) to undertake your program objectives. According to 22 CFR 62.10(a)(2) UK needs to attest that “the exchange visitor possesses sufficient proficiency in the English language, as determined by an objective measurement of English language proficiency, successfully to participate in his or her program and to function on a day-to-day basis.” 

ISSS generally accepts TOEFL/IETLS test scores and personal interviews (in-person, via phone, via skype, etc.) as proof of this requirement.   

Step 5: Submit the “Exchange Visitor Start Point” e-form in iCAT

To determine the correct J-1 Category for the prospective Exchange Visitor, departments must first complete the Exchange Visitor Start Point e-form

After the department has submitted the Exchange Visitor Start Point e-form and the e-form has been approved, ISSS will contact the department administrator regarding which  final application to submit based on the determined J-1 Category (J-1 Scholar, J-1 Student Non-Degree, or J-1 Student Intern).  Departments must first complete the Exchange Visitor Start Point e-form and be notified of the appropriate J-1 Category application to complete prior to starting the final forms. 

Step 6: Invite J-1 Exchange Visitor

Following approval, an invitation may be extended to the J-1 exchange visitor. 

Sample Invitation Letter

Student Academic Training

At times a J-1 student may be hired by the University of Kentucky while participating in Academic Training. The University of Kentucky or another university or institution may approve Academic Training but only if the student is eligible and has been pre-approved by the J-1 advisor.  

This is employment related to a student’s field of study and may be used anytime during his or her program of study but is generally utilized after completion of a degree. Students pursuing a bachelor’s degree or master’s degree are eligible for a total of 18 months of Academic Training. Doctoral graduates receive an additional 18 months, allowing them a maximum of 36 months. 

The hiring department provides a job offer letter to the student so the J-1 advisor can authorize the employment. Therefore, there are no applications or fees to U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS). There is also no ISSS processing fee or additional documentation required from departments. For information, contact ISSS.

Department Responsibilities For Inviting J-1 Exchange Visitors

The following guidelines are required by the U.S. Department of State for anyone agreeing to sponsor a J-1 exchange visitor.  

*Department is responsible for the processing fee assessed by the Office of International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS). The fee may be covered either by the department of the J-1 Exchange Visitor or the exchange visitor, but payment must be processed through a JV prepared by ISSS.  

*Department must make provisions for adequate office space, laboratory facilities, and health coverage for the exchange visitor as applicable or required. 

*Department understands that the Office of International Student and Scholar Services will include information about housing in the pre-arrival packet but does not provide housing services.  The sponsoring department should also discuss housing arrangements with the exchange visitor prior to arrival. Information is available through the UK Graduate and Family Housing office and through the Off-Campus Housing website.

*Department understands that federal law restricts the sharing of certain technologies and software with foreign nationals. These rules are complex and substantial penalties may be imposed for violations. If the J-1 scholar may have access to export controlled technology or software controlled by federal law, the department should contact the UK Office of Sponsored Projects Administration, (OSPA) to ensure that all applicable requirements are met.

*Department certifies the program is not designed to recruit and train international scholars for regular employment in the United States.

*Department certifies the exchange visitor will not displace full-time, part-time, temporary or permanent American workers or serve to file a labor need. The position the department offers exists solely to assist the participant in achieving the objectives in an exchange program.

*Department is responsible for abiding by all applicable federal, state, and local city labor and wage laws, including requirements for Workers Compensation (as applicable for paid internships or exchanges).

*Department will be sure that scholar maintains residency in Kentucky during J status at UK. If scholar is expected to work on a collaborative project with UK at another US institution, contact J immigration specialist for instructions.

Reporting Incidents

Per [22 CFR 62.13(d)], All Departments/Hosts are required to report incidents involving J-1 exchange visitors that have or could endanger the health, safety, or welfare of an exchange visitor or otherwise could be expected to bring the Department of State, the Exchange Visitor Program, or the sponsor’s exchange visitor program into notoriety or disrepute.  Examples include, but are not limited to exchange visitor’s death, exchange visitor missing, exchange visitor serious illness or injury, incident involving the criminal justice system, sexually-related incidents or abuse, negative press involving a sponsor’s exchange visitor program, litigation, foreign government involvement, lost or stolen passports, violations of export control, intellectual property theft, and other situations.  Should an incident occur, please contact Marc K. Invergo at or call 859-257-8776 as soon as possible.


UK Policy Regarding Changes of Status to H1-B

The University of Kentucky has determined that J-1 visa holders are expected to remain in this status for a minimum of two years before the University will sponsor a change of status to H-1B. This requirement is a UK policy, not an immigration regulation. It does not apply in cases where a tenure-track faculty position is being sought with a change of status to H-1B or  O-1 status.



Departments wishing to extend the stay of an Exchange Visitor should submit the "J-1 Scholar Extension" form in iCATat least 30 days in advance of the Exchange Visitor’s DS-2019 expiring. 

Information to be included in request: 

  • JV Account Number for the processing fee.  See "J-1 Processing Fees" section above for the processing fee.
    • International Student & Scholar Services charges a fee for the processing of a DS-2019 Certificate of 
    • Eligibility for Exchange Visitor (J-1) Status for all J categories, except J-1 students. This fee maybe paid either by the department or the J-1 Exchange Visitor, but payment must be processed through a JV.  (Note:Fees cannot be charged to grants.) 
  • Ending date of extension 
  • Funding amount 
    • Funding must be guaranteed for the specified period of time. It is possible to give an extension for short periods as funding allows. 
  • Funding source 
    • If the funding source is UK, specify the name of the grant. 
    • Other sources must be verified by a statement from the sponsoring organization or bank. 
  • Proof of continued health insurance (including J-2 dependents, if applicable) 
    • If covered by UK-HMO, include a copy of the computer print-out verifying coverage of SOS(Medical Evacuation and Repatriation Insurance). 
    • If covered by Humana insurance, include a copy of an updated E-mail from Humana with the confirmation number. 
    • If other insurance, the Exchange Visitor must complete a form verifying that the coverage meets the UK requirements

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 and 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 unless the position no longer meets the regulatory requirement for a J-1.
  • Remote Positions: This is dependent on location and must be reviewed on a case-by-case basis. UKY may be unable to meet the minimum requirements of the prevailing wages for some out of state positions.
  • 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). 

$1,775- Initial H-1B Request (OR) $1,775- 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) 
  • $2,805 - 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.


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.


What documents are needed for H1-B

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.

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 are 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.

Sponsoring Green Cards

Sponsorship of Permanent Residency

Each year the university welcomes international faculty and staff from around the globe.  Many of these UK employees will make Lexington their home and remain at the university in full-time regular and tenure-track positions. Their expertise, knowledge and research enhances the university reputation and improves the learning of all UK students.   

The Office of International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) is here to help supervisors who wish to sponsor permanent residency for international faculty and staff.  ISSS will help facilitate the process which includes the filing of petitions for permanent residency petitions with the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration  Services (USCIS).


The Basics

Advertising Guidelines

Hiring and inviting international workers is a complicated process.  Prior to posting advertisements for teaching faculty, hiring officials may wish to contact ISSS to verify ad specifications.  Adhering to certain ad specifications may aid with a smoother permanent residency process for some teaching faculty. Incomplete ads could lead to a costly re-recruitment process.   

See here guidelines for teaching faculty seeking permanent residency through labor certification

Policy on Permanent Residence

The university will not sponsor permanent residence for the following type of positions: 

  • Temporary and/or part-time positions, such as postdoctoral scholars and visiting scientists, because these positions do not meet regulatory standards as required for permanent residence. 
  • Positions with a bachelor’s degree as the minimum requirement may require the assistance of an attorney and will be approved on a case-by-case basis.

The university may sponsor permanent residence under the following conditions: 

  • The candidate holds a permanent position at the University of Kentucky. "Permanent" is defined by immigration guidelines as employment that is intended to be of an indefinite or unlimited duration. In other words, the nature of the position is such that the employee will ordinarily have an expectation of continued employment. In these cases, the request for the university to sponsor the application must be approved by the applicant’s chair, director or dean of the college. 
  • The position demonstrates secured funding that is either regular in nature, or in the case of a grant-funded position, includes a reasonable expectation that funding will continue. 
  • The candidate maintains a valid non-immigrant employment status while the application is being processed, unless it is concurrent filing with the I-485 Adjustment of Status. In this case, our office advises continuation of the H-1B rather than filing the Employment Authorization Document, but we defer to the counsel of the attorney.  
  • The supervisor or department head agrees to sign the documentation required. Please note that sponsorship or signatures on documentation doesn't necessarily include a responsibility to pay legal and/or other processing fees. The department's responsibility to pay fees will depend on the type of permanent residency case and whether the use of attorney is involved in the process.

When Outside Counsel is Necessary

Per U K BUSINESS PROCEDURES E-1-6, the Office of Legal Counsel must approve all outside counsel prior to commencing legal work on behalf of the University of Kentucky.  Hiring departments and employees should consult with the director of ISSS to determine eligibility.

Once it has been established that the employee meets the criteria and university guidelines, hiring departments and/or employees may contact a pre-approved immigration attorney.  A list will be provided upon request.  ISSS is here to assist hiring officials in filing most types of permanent residency cases for teaching faculty.  However, a more lengthy or complex case may require the services of outside counsel. This must be decided in consultation with ISSS.

If you are unsure about which pathway to permanent residency is preferable, please contact the director of ISSS, Elizabeth Leibach.

Other Visa Types

International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) provides information and assistance to Colleges and departments as they seek to employ or invite international faculty and staff to the University of Kentucky. The most common visa classifications for this purpose are the H-1B Temporary Worker and the J-1 Scholar categories.  There are times however when these visa classifications are not workable solutions for the candidate or department for various reasons.   Other employment visa classifications may be possible for the right candidate.  The following options have been prepared to provide a starting point and preliminary information to the campus community with respect to the hiring of non-immigrants.

O-1 Temporary Worker

The O-1A worker status is based on extraordinary ability and allows an employer to petition on behalf of non-immigrants who have a high level of expertise and have attained national or international acclaim in their field. Extensive documentation is required as evidence of eligibility to apply. The O-1A status may be valid initially for three years and can be extended on a one-year incremental basis indefinitely. 

J-1 visa holders who possess the necessary qualifications for the O-1A, but are subject to the "two-year home country residence requirement," may still qualify for this classification. They must, however, leave the U.S. and apply for admission as an O-1A non-immigrant. 

The University of Kentucky International Center does not process O-1A applications, so it is advisable to retain the services of an attorney to prepare this application. A G-28 Form, which allows representation by an outside attorney, must be signed by the director of the Office of International Student and Scholar Services. Prior to submission to U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services, the hiring or sponsoring department must submit the O-1 Initiation Form to the director, Elizabeth Leibach, 204 Bradley Hall. 

Once approved, the attorney must also send a copy of the approved O-1A petition to the director, Elizabeth Leibach, 204 Bradley Hall.  


TN Temporary Worker

For Canadian and Mexican Citizens Only 

The TN classification was created as part of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) to facilitate the entry of Canadians and Mexicans to the U.S. to engage in professional activities. Only certain occupations qualify. Qualified occupations can be viewed at Appendix 1603.D.1 

The period of initial admission and extension of stay that can be requested by a TN non-immigrant under NAFTA is three years.

The TN Status is for "temporary" positions.  Additional documents may be requested to establish if the position type and/or employee qualifies for the TN status. For example, additional requested documents may include evidence of the employee's intent to depart the United States after employment as a NAFTA professional. Evidence of  family ties may be sufficient to show this intent to return to the home country. TN status could be denied if the position is deemed to be "permanent in nature" or the consular officer suspects that the employee holds a position which is inappropriate for the TN status.

Obtaining a TN status for Canadians differs from that of Mexican citizens and does not require the services of ISSS. To be eligible, Canadians must present evidence of nationality, at least a B.A. or a B.S. in the field or profession (included on the professional job series NAFTA list), and a job offer from an employer upon entry into the U.S. Educational credentials obtained outside of the USA or Canada will likely require an official evaluation by a credential evaluator.  The procedure for admission of Mexican citizens to the U.S. in TN status can be found in the State Department Instructions on Applying for a TN and requires an appointment at a U.S. embassy or consulate. 

Dependents of TN holders are given TD status. These dependents may attend school in the U.S. but may not accept employment.  

There are other non-immigrant visas that permit non-immigrants to work in the United States which may be more appropriate depending on the type of position. Please contact Elizabeth Leibach, director, Office of International Student and Scholar Services, before providing any letter of employment that would be used to assist an employee in obtaining TN status.

B Visitor

B Visitor Visa

The B1/B2 visitor visa is a non-immigrant visa for those desiring to enter the United States temporarily (initial entry for less than 6 months) for business, pleasure, or medical treatment. Employment and/or enrollment in a course of study is not permitted. The purpose of the visit should be short term, and applicants should have residence outside the U.S.  

Visa applicants will need to show strong evidence to prove that their intention is to remain in the U.S. for a limited period of time, and that they have other binding ties to their home countries, which will insure their return home. Persons planning to travel to the United States for a different purpose -- such as students wishing to enroll in a course of study in the U.S. or temporary workers must apply for a different visa in the appropriate category.

For more detailed information, please review this handout.  

Visitors from specified countries may be able to travel to the United States for tourism or business for 90 days or less without obtaining a U.S. visa on the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). Visit the Department of State's website for more information regarding B1 status. 

Payments for B-1 Activity

Individuals on the B-1/B-2 visa may be permitted to receive remuneration under certain circumstances. While employment is not permitted, an honorarium, reimbursement for incidental expenses, and/or a per diem related to the B-1 activity lasting not more than 9 days, has been allowed (the total amount of payments not to exceed what is "reasonable" as a business expense). 

Faculty members wishing to invite an international guest using the B-1/B-2 or the Visa Waiver Program should download the following sample invitation letter template and guidelines developed by a workgroup from the College of A&S, University Financial Services and ISSS.

Additional guidance including documentation required for payments made to non-resident aliens (NRA) can be found under the business procedures manual on the University Financial Services website labeled E-7-7: Payments to Non-Resident Alien Individuals. 

Renumeration for International Guests

International Scholar Payments or Honorariums  

Each year, many distinguished scholars and experts are invited to the University of Kentucky to lecture, collaborate on research or participate in some type of activity for which payment has been agreed upon or an honorarium is customary. 

In many cases, these scholars may be residents/citizens of a country other than the United States and for payment purposes they are generally referred to as “non-resident aliens” (NRAs). The procedures for making payments to an NRA differ significantly from those for a citizen of the United States. Departments that invite NRAs to the University, and plan to make a payment to them for any purpose, (honorarium, independent contractor services, reimbursement of expenses, etc.) are encouraged to become familiar with the unique payment requirements.  Please see the University Financial Services business procedures manual section E-7-7.