H-1B Status Overview
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 hold a bachelor's degree or higher.
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 ISS has filed an H-1B petition for this individual.
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, ISS will need to receive the ISS Wage Request Form. They must also receive the same benefits as other individuals in the same job classification.
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.
ISS 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 ISS internal processing fee).