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H-1B Status Overview

Specialty Occupation

H-1B status is available to individuals coming to the US to fill a "specialty occupation." A "specialty occupation" for H-1B purposes is an occupation that requires "[the] theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge; and [the] attainment of a bachelor's or higher degree in the specific specialty (or its equivalent) as a minimum for entry into the occupation in the United States."

If a position does not require at least a bachelor's degree in a specific field, H-1B status is not an option, even if the foreign national holds a bachelor's degree or higher.


Employer Specific

H-1B status is employer specific. This means that a foreign national in H-1B status may only work for an employer that has filed an H-1B petition for him or her. If a foreign national in H-1B status is currently working for another employer, he or she cannot work for VT until GSS has filed an H-1B petition for this individual.


Wage Requirements

Individuals who hold H-1B status through VT must be employees of VT. They must be paid at a rate that is equal to or exceeds the prevailing wage or actual wage rate—whichever is higher. To determine the prevailing wage and actual wage rates for a position, GSS will need to receive the Wage Analysis Worksheet. They must also receive the same benefits as other individuals in the same job classification. The Wage Analysis Worksheet is submitted as part of the H-1B initiation process.

Note: the required wage for immigration purposes may be higher than the wage HR advises is typical for the position.


Duration of H-1B Status

Individuals can hold H-1B status in increments of (up to) three years for a total of six years. Once someone has exhausted his or her H-1B status, the individual must leave the US for a period of one year before being able to restart a new H-1B period. Under certain, limited circumstances it is possible to extend someone's H-1B status beyond the standard maximum of six years.

GSS recommends that departments request H-1B status in multi-year increments. While a department will be liable to pay for the return transportation if the employment of a foreign national is terminated before the expiration date of the individual's H-1B status, the cost to the department to extend an individual's H-1B status is $1160 (which includes the $460 USCIS filing fee and the $700 GSS internal processing fee).