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Faculty and Researchers Immigration|Office of the Faculty Immigration Coordinator

Employment of Non-Resident Aliens

While immigration law is complex and subject to frequent revision, hiring international employees need not be a complex and perplexing task. However advice on individual cases should always be sought from the Office of International Programs. The enclosed guidelines provide basic information about immigration classifications and procedures and discuss in some detail the roles and responsibilities of the hiring department in the process. This information is meant to advise departments, but not serve as a substitute for individual consultation with the Office of International Programs. Because of the complexity of the regulations and the frequent changes, we urge you to consult with the Faculty Immigration Coordinator prior to making any appointment.


We are here to help

The Faculty Immigration Coordinator of the Office of International Programs assists colleges and departments of the University wishing to hire nonimmigrant personnel at UW under any status, other than student (F-1) and visiting scholar (J-1). A person accepting an offer of employment with the University must have valid immigration status, prior to beginning employment, and must maintain valid immigration status throughout the duration of employment at the University. Appointing departments are responsible for informing the foreign national of this provision, and all offer letters should include a phrase such as "offer is contingent upon valid immigration status."

Unauthorized Employment

When an alien accepts employment that is not authorized or when an alien who enters this country without documentation accepts employment, he or she may be in serious violation of federal laws and regulations. The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA) makes it illegal for an employer to hire an alien not authorized for employment. Any new employee must complete the Form I-9 as part of the process for being put on the payroll. This form requires both the employee and the employer to verify identity and employability. The penalties for institutional noncompliance can be stiff. In addition to the penalties that can be imposed by USCIS and/or DOL for institutional noncompliance with immigration regulations, it is a violation of status for the alien to accept employment without authorization and this violation can have serious consequences in any future dealings with USCIS.

Available Employment Visas

This guide provides a basic overview of the most common immigration categories for employing non-students at the University of Wyoming. It does not provide application instructions or details on which category may be best for a particular appointment or individual. Since each situation may involve unique factors, it is always appropriate to check with the Faculty Immigration Coordinator. Please also note that immigration regulations can change.

Please note that this guide does not include information on fees applicable to certain statuses, visa application fees or visa fees. For up-to-date fee information, please see the web site of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

For information on a particular status, please select from this list:

 

B-1, B-2, WT, or WB Visitor

Department of State Visa Waiver information

Description: An individual can be admitted to the U.S. as a B-1 visitor for business or a B-2 visitor for pleasure. Except for Canadians,this involves first applying for an entry visa at a U.S. Consulate overseas. Under the Visa Waiver Program a citizen of a designated country (see list below) can be admitted in WT status (waiver tourist) or WB status (waiver business) without applying for an entry visa abroad. B-1 or WB status is appropriate for an individual who is coming to the U.S. for a short period for professional reasons. Individuals in B-1, B-2, WB or WT status can receive reimbursement for incidental expenses if coming for academic purposes for work/activities lasting nine days or less. The same statuses can receive honoraria from institutions of higher learning for work/lectures no longer than 9 days in duration. They are limited to payments from no more than five institutions within a six-month period.

Maximum Stay: 6 months for a B-1 or B-2 visitor with the possibility of a 6 month extension.
90 days for a WT or WB visitor.

Processing Time: None.

Eligibility: Nonimmigrant intent, a valid reason for the visit and the resources for travel.

Restrictions/Limitations: No extension of stay: WT, WB. 
                                   No change of status: WT, WB.

Advantages:  Simplicity, host writes a letter stating professional reasons for the visit, including dates and locations of service. 
                    No paperwork required from Faculty Immigration Coordinator. 
                    A B-1 or B-2 visitor can change status if not on visa waiver.

Dependents: Spouse and children can apply for tourist status too.

For more information about the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) and a list of countries currently participating in the program, please visit

 

F-1 Optional Practical Trainee

Description: Optional practical training is work authorization for an F-1 student. It can be full- or part-time during a vacation term, part-time while classes are in session, full- or part-time after completion of coursework and while working on a thesis or dissertation, or full-time after completion of studies. It is endorsed by the F-1 student's school and authorized by USCIS.

Maximum Stay: 12 months per level of study, e.g. 12 months after Bachelor's Degree, another 12 months after Master's Degree, etc. Certain students may be entitled to a one-time extension of 17 months.

Processing Time: Usually 3-4 months.

Eligibility: After nine months in lawful non-immigrant status.

Restrictions/Limitations: Employment must be related to the field of study and commensurate with the level of study.

Advantages: Employer is not involved in the application process. 
                  Authorization is not employer specific.

Disadvantages: Time limit is strict. 
                       USCIS approval takes time.

Dependents: Spouse and minor children are granted F-2 status which does not allow study or employment.

 

 J-1 Visiting Professor or Researcher

Description: The visiting J-1 Professor category is for individuals coming primarily to teach, lecture, observe, or consult use , while the Research Scholar category is for individuals coming primarily to conduct research, or observe or consult in conjunction with a research project.

Maximum stay: Five years; extensions are not possible.

Processing Time: Normally, not more than a week.

Eligibility: Individual must have an academic appointment and sufficient financial support.

Restrictions/Limitations:

Two year home-residency requirement may apply.
Cannot be used for a tenure-track position.
Anyone who is physically present in the United States for 6 months or more as a J-1 Exchange Visitor or a J-2 dependent must be out of J status for six months before being eligible to begin a new Visiting Professor or Research Scholar program in J-1 status at the University of Wyoming.

Advantages: Process is short and easy.

Dependents: Spouse and minor children are granted J-2 status which allows for full-time study and applications for employment authorization.

NOTE: A J-1 Exchange Visitor who has received direct government funding (home or U.S.), whose field of study appears on a list of skills deemed important to the home country, or who is a medical resident, must spend two years in their home country to be eligible for H or L status. Such an individual is ineligible for H-1B and L-1 status or permanent residence until the requirement has been fulfilled or until a waiver has been obtained. Waivers can take considerable time to obtain. For more information about waivers, please see http://travel.state.gov/visa/temp/info/info_1296.html.

 J-1 Short-term Scholar

Description: The short-term scholar category is for an individual coming briefly to lecture, observe, consult, train, or demonstrate special skills.

Maximum Stay: 6 months with no extensions.

Processing Time: Normally not more than a week.

Eligibility: An academic appointment at the University of Wyoming and sufficient financial support.

Restrictions/Limitations:

Two year home-residency requirement may apply.
Advantages:

Process is short and easy.
Can be used to bring scholars to the University who are temporarily ineligible for J-1 Research Scholar or Visiting Professor categories.
Allows for up to six months of activity at the University of Chicago.
Allows payment of honoraria or employment.
Dependents: Spouse and minor children are granted J-2 status which allows for full-time study and applications for employment authorization.

NOTE:A J-1 Exchange Visitor who has received direct government funding (home or U.S.), whose field of study appears on a list of skills deemed important to the home country, or who is a medical resident, is required to return home at the end of the J-1 program for a period of two years. Such an individual is ineligible for H-1B and L-1 status or permanent residence until the requirement has been fulfilled or until a waiver has been obtained. Waivers may take considerable time to obtain.

 

J-1 Academic Trainee

Description: A J-1 student may be authorized by his/her J-1 program sponsor to accept employment which is related to the field of study.

Maximum Stay:

18 months or the length of time spent studying in J-1 status, whichever is less.
After receipt of a Ph.D., 36 months or the length of time spent studying in J-1 status, whichever is less.
Processing Time: As required by the J-1 program sponsor, normally not more than a few days.

Eligibility: Must have a specific job offer.

Restrictions/ Limitations:

The authorization is employer specific.
Two year home-residency requirement may apply.
Advantages:

Processing time is usually short.
Employer must only provide confirmation of employment.
Disadvantages: Authorization is at the discretion of the J-1 sponsor.

Dependents: Spouse and minor children are granted J-2 status which allows for full-time study and applications for employment authorization.

NOTE: A J-1 Exchange Visitor who has received direct government funding (home or U.S.), whose field of study appears on a list of skills deemed important to the home country, or who is a medical resident, is required to return home at the end of the J-1 program for a period of two years. Such an individual is ineligible for H-1B and L-1 status or permanent residence until the requirement has been fulfilled or until a waiver has been obtained. Waivers may take considerable time to obtain.

 


H-1B Specialty Worker

Description: H-1B is a temporary status available for certain nonimmigrant employees. The petition to USCIS must be filed by the employer on the employee's behalf.

Maximum Stay: Cumulative total of six years, including any time spent in H-4 or L status.

Processing Time: Three to four months.

Eligibility: H-1B Specialty Worker status is available for nonimmigrants who qualify in a specialty occupation by license, degree, or equivalent experience (generally at least a bachelor's degree is required), and who are not subject to the two-year home residency requirement (see J-1 Status).

Restrictions/Limitations:

If the individual has previously held J-1 status, he/she may be subject to the two-year home residency requirement (see J-1 Status).
Beneficiary may only work for an employer who petitioned for H-1B status on his/her behalf (but can have several employers simultaneously, as long as each has petitioned).
Salary must meet prevailing wage requirements.
A new H-1B employee may enter the U.S. no earlier than 10 days prior to the employment start date, and must leave the U.S. no later than 10 days after the date employment ends.
Advantages: Allows for "dual intent" to change from nonimmigrant to permanent resident status.

Disadvantages:

Extensive processing on part of department which can be time-consuming.
Prevailing wage necessary.
Dependents: Spouse and children of H-1B are generally granted H-4 status, which allows for full-time study but does not allow for employment.


TN Worker

Description: TN is a nonimmigrant status granted solely to Canadian and Mexican professionals who are offered temporary employment by a US employer. The procedures for obtaining this status differ for Canadian and Mexican citizens.

Maximum Stay: Indefinite, but status must be renewed annually.

Processing Time: None.

For Canadians: If outside the US, none. If inside the US and changing to TN, three to four months.

For Mexicans: Three to four months.

Eligibility: TN status is available for professionals who hold at least a bachelor's degree and/or appropriate professional credentials, and whose occupations are found on the Listing of Professional Occupations (Appendix 1603.D.1 of NAFTA).

Restrictions/Limitations:

Beneficiary may only work for the U.S. employer who provided the initial offer of employment for gaining TN status.
Advantages:

Much simpler application process for Canadians.
TN status can be renewed indefinitely.
No prevailing wage necessary for Canadians.
Disadvantages:

Limited to one year.
Prevailing wage necessary for Mexicans.
Much harder application process for Mexicans.
Dependents: Spouse and children of TNs are granted TD status, which allows for full-time study but does not allow for employment.

 

E-3 Worker

Description: E-3 is a nonimmigrant status granted solely to Australian professionals who are offered temporary employment by a US employer. The procedures for obtaining this status are very similar to that for obtaining H-1B status. USCIS is still developing procedures for Change of Status to E-3 within the US, so beneficiaries have to depart and re-enter the US to obtain E-3 status.

Maximum Stay: Indefinite, but status must be renewed annually.

Processing Time: If outside the US, none. Change of Status within US not yet available.

Eligibility: E-3 status is available for professionals who hold at least a bachelor's degree and/or appropriate professional credentials.

Restrictions/Limitations:

Beneficiary may only work for the U.S. employer who provided the initial offer of employment for gaining E-3 status.
Advantages:

Relatively simple application process.
E-3 status can be renewed indefinitely.
Disadvantages:

Limited to one year (but renewable).
Dependents: Spouse of E-3s can obtain employment authorization.

 

Immigration Overview Presentation

Employment Based Immigrant Visa Options

 

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