The H-1B is a specialty occupation visa category for hiring international faculty or staff whose position requires the minimum of a bachelor’s degree and who will perform work in a specialized skill area.
The H-1B category is suitable for most international researchers, visiting faculty and staff but is required for tenure track faculty, staff positions hired through human resources and typically any position with tenure at the university.
International Scholars on H-1B visas, otherwise referred to as H-1B beneficiaries, are eligible for a maximum of six years in this visa category and may be eligible for Legal Permanent Residency sponsored by Northwestern University, after two years of employment and with approval from their supervisor and the IO. H-1B's who have an approved I-140 as part of the LPR process, may request an H-1B extension beyond the 6 year maximum for one year at a time.
NOTE: all visa related fees must be paid by the sponsoring department and the scholar may not reimburse the department/NU for these fees.
The information on the following pages has been created specifically for NU Departments hiring individuals in the H-1B visa category. Information can be found regarding:
Types of H-1B
Applying for an H-1B
Changes to current H-1B Status
Off-Campus Occasional Lectures
Types of H-1B
There are different types of H-1B petitions the department may file depending on the current status of the individual. Brief information can be found below regarding each. For comprehensive information regarding each type, please review the Types of H-1B Table.
- For individuals currently outside the U.S.
- USCIS Approval Notice needed before individual can start work. If intended employment start-date approaches and you do not have an Approval Notice, the NU hiring department will have to delay employment until the IO receives the approval notice.
- No additional paperwork required for dependents. (Dependent will not receive his/her own Approval Notice and will use H-1B supporting documents to apply for H-4 visa.)
H-1B COS (Change of Status)
- For individuals already in the U.S. in a different visa category.
- USCIS Approval Notice needed before individual can start work. If intended employment start-date approaches and you do not have an Approval Notice, the NU hiring department will have to suspend employment until the IO receives the approval notice.
- Dependents will file Form I-539 to change his/her status. For assistance in filing Form I-539 please see IO Guidelines for Filing the I-539 for H-4 and E-3 dependents.
H-1B COE (Change of Employer)
- For individuals who already hold an H-1B at another institution and will be transferring to NU.
- USCIS Receipt Notice needed before individual can start work at NU. If intended employment start-date approaches and you do not have a Receipt Notice, the NU hiring department will have to delay employment.
- Dependents will file Form I-539 to transfer his/her status to NU. For assistance in filing Form I-539 please see IO Guidelines for Filing the I-539 for H-4 and E-3 dependents.
H-1B EOS (Extension)
- For individuals already in H-1B status who would like to extend the end-date of employment.
- USCIS Receipt Notice needed before individual can continue work at NU. If your intended employment start-date approaches and you do not have an Approval Notice, portability provisions allow you to continue at NU based on the Receipt Notice.
- Dependents will file Form I-539 to extend his/her status. For assistance in filing Form I-539 please see IO Guidelines for Filing the I-539 for H-4 and E-3 dependents
- For individuals who already hold an H-1B at NU and will have a new title, new site of activity, new job description, reduced/increased salary and/or reduced/increased number of hours per week.
- USCIS Receipt Notice needed before the change can take effect.
- If this Amended H-1B application includes an extension, the dependent will file Form I-539 to extend his/her status. If this Amended H-1B application does not include an extension, no paperwork for H4 dependents is required. For assistance in filing Form I-539 please see IO Guidelines for Filing the I-539 for H-4 and E-3 dependents.
- If you would like further clarification, please consult your assigned International Advisor.
- For individuals who already hold an H-1B at another institution and will collaborate with NU for a salary/stipend.
- USCIS Receipt Notice needed before individual can start work. If your intended employment start-date approaches and you do not have an Approval Notice, portability provisions allow you to continue at NU based on the Receipt Notice.
- Dependents should be maintained on the primary employer’s H-1B.
Applying for an H-1B
All forms associated with the H-1B can be found here under the 'Departments' heading.
Department applications for H-1B visas are processed through an online case management system called Law Logix. This system will be accessed by three main points of contact: the IO advisor; the Department Contact handling the paperwork and the H-1B Beneficiary themselves. If the Department Contact does not already have log-in information for Law Logix, please email your assigned IO Advisor.
H-1B requests may be submitted up to 8 months before the start date but no earlier. Internal processing at the IO (before sending to USCIS) requires 3 months.External processing (once petition is sent to USCIS) requires 3 weeks to issue a Receipt Notice and approximately 3-4 months (or more depending on USCIS delays) for an Approval Notice.Premium processing is used to expedite the receipt of the Approval Notice. USCIS will issue a decision within 15 calendar days of USCIS receipt.Please keep in mind IO and USCIS processing times are subject to change based on processing volume.
H-1B Request Process:
- Department Contact asks Beneficiary to collect documents on the H-1B Beneficiary Checklist
- Department Contact collects documents from the Beneficiary and additional documents on the H-1B Department Checklist
- Once all necessary signatures, documents, checks are collected, Department Contact submits original paperwork to the IO.
- IO Front Desk charges H-1B processing fee and emails to Department Contact and Beneficiary
- IO Advisor reviews paperwork and sends online questionnaire via Law Logix to Beneficiary. Upon review of paperwork, if neededed the IO advisor will email Beneficiary/Department Contact for further clarification.
- IO Advisor files Prevailing Wage Determination (PWD) with the Department of Labor (DOL). Note: the PWD process takes approximately 60 days with DOL.
- Once Prevailing Wage is determined, the IO Advisor files Labor Condition Application (LCA) with the Department of Labor (DOL) and sends DRAFT LCA to Department Contact for 10-day posting.
- Within approximately 7 days from filing, the LCA is approved and the IO Advisor sends CERTIFIED LCA to Department Contact for signatures and return.
- The IO Advisor reviews the paperwork and emails the Department Contact/Beneficiary if any additional documents are needed.
- Once filed to USCIS, the IO Front Desk emails Beneficiary/Department Contact with FedEx tracking number.
- Within approximately two to three weeks, IO Front Desk emails Beneficiary, Department Contact, and Payroll confirming the receipt of the Receipt Notice.
- Within approximately three to four months, IO Front Desk emails Beneficiary, Department Contact, and Payroll confirming the decision made by USCIS. The Approval Notice and support documents will be ready for pick-up at the IO.
- If Beneficiary is outside of Evanston/Chicago area, the Department Contact will pick-up documents and send to Beneficiary. Once the Beneficiary arrives to campus, s/he will check-in with the IO and report to payroll.
- If Beneficiary is already in Evanston/Chicago, s/he may pick-up Approval Notice and support documents and report to payroll.
Changes To current H-1B STATUS
If the only change will be an increase/decresease in salary, please contact your assigned IO Advisor so that we can evaluate if an H-1B Amendment is necessary.
If your H-1B beneficiary receives permanent residency, employment with another institution, resigns or is terminated, please submit an H-1B Beneficiary Departure Notice to the IO. Upon receipt of this notice, the IO will withdraw the respective H-1B petition within 30 days of the end date confirmed on the notice.
If your H-1B beneficiary's position will change (e.g. new job title, new job description, new site of activity, promotion, transfer to another NU department, different hours per week), you are required to submit H-1B Amendment paperwork before the change takes place.
Off-Campus Occasional Lectures
H-1B beneficiary's are eligible to be issued reimbursement for transportation and reasonable incidental expenses incurred while traveling to off-campus lectures but s/he is not approved to be paid a wage, salary or honorarium for these services. Please contact a scholar advisor for more information and for an approval letter.