Apply for an initial H-1B

Overseas and Change of Status applicants will need to apply for an initial H-1B. The OISS only accepts H-1B requests from NU sponsoring departments, so any application should begin with the applicant speaking with his or her department, who will initiate the process with the OISS.

Jump to:

Instructions for incoming H-1B beneficiary

1. Submit required documentation to your host department

Your host department must submit your forms and documents (listed below) along with its own documents as a complete package to the OISS.

If you once held a J-1 visa:

  • Copies of proof of J-1 status such as J1 visa stamp(s), DS-2019(s)

If you are subject to the 212(e) two-year residency requirement:

  • Copy of waiver recommendation AND
  • Copy of I-612; OR
  • Proof that you fulfilled the requirements by living and working in your home country for a full two years

If you once held H-1B visa status:

  • Copy of all previous H-1B Approval Notices

If you are changing your status within the U.S. and you have dependents in the U.S. with you:

2. Complete the online questionnaire in LawLogix

The OISS will send you login information after your sponsoring department has submitted a complete request.

3. Receive Receipt Notice and Approval Notice

All initial H-1B applicants (overseas and Change of Status) must receive the Approval Notice from USCIS before employment in H-1B status at Northwestern can begin.

  • Within approximately two to three weeks after filing with USCIS, the OISS Front Desk emails you, your department contact, and Payroll confirming the receipt of the Receipt Notice.
  • Within approximately three to eight months after filing with USCIS, the OISS Front Desk emails you, your department contact, and Payroll confirming the decision made by USCIS. The Approval Notice and supporting documents will be ready for pick-up at the OISS. If you are outside of Evanston/Chicago area, the department contact will pick-up documents and send them to you.

4. Apply for the H-1B visa at a US Consulate or Embassy

If you are an overseas H-1B applicant, make an appointment with a US Consulate/Embassy nearest to your place of residence. Please be aware that it may take a few weeks to get an appointment. Allow additional time: two to three months if a background check is deemed necessary by the consular official.
Bring the following documents to your appointment:
  • Completed Visa Application Form, DS-160 (if applicable)
  • Original I-797 Approval Notice form
  • Copies of the H-1B (I-129) petition
  • Updated letter of employment from your NU department (necessary for renewing H-1B visas)
  • Application fee. Please check the US Consulate/Embassy website for details
  • If dependents are accompanying you, please make sure that you have birth certificates of your children; have an original marriage certificate, photographs of your wedding, invitations, etc. as proof of evidence.

Please check the US Consulate/Embassy website for any additional documents required by an individual consular post.

Note: If while applying for an H-1B visa stamp, you are subject to a background check or administrative processing, there is very little the university can do to expedite this process. However, if more than 69-days have passed since the date of application, and no information has been given regarding application status, please follow the instructions on the OISS website regarding Visa Stamp Delay.

5. Arrival and check-in

Overseas applicants must check in with the OISS and University Payroll Office prior to starting work. Learn more about check-in procedures. Please note that if you are arriving from outside the US, you may only enter 10 days before your H-1B start date.

Change of Status applicants must retrieve the Approval Notice documents from the OISS and present the original to University Payroll prior to starting employment in H-1B status.

Instructions for host departments

1. Collect required documents and submit them to the OISS

In addition to the packet of documents submitted by the applicant (listed above), the host department is responsible for the following items:

  • H-1B Department Authorization Form
  • Offer letter, including the H-1B's start/end dates, annual salary, and job title
  • H-1B Itinerary Letter (See example)
  • Official University position confirmation, which must cover dates of requested H-1B
    • For faculty: faculty appointment letter;
    • For staff positions: HR offer confirmation letter and HR job description;
    • For research staff: research staff appointment;
    • For postdoctoral fellowships: postdoctoral research appointment.
  • $460 and $500 processing fee checks must be paid by the department. If the department would like to use Premium Processing, the department must also pay this fee ($1440 effective 11/29/19; $1410 until then)).  All checks must be separate and all are paid to the Department of Homeland Security. H-1B Check Request Form.

2. The OISS and department manage the Prevailing Wage Determination (PWD) and Labor Condition Application (LCA) requirements.

The following steps are required:

  • The OISS obtains the PWD to ensure that the university's wage offer is adequate.
  • The OISS files an LCA with the U.S. Department of Labor.
  • The OISS emails the LCA notice to the host department, which posts it at a conspicuous place for 10 business days. See posting notice instructions.
  • Within 7 days of filing, the LCA is approved; the OISS sends the certified LCA to the Department for signatures and return.

3. The OISS prepares the H-1B petition for submission to USCIS

  • OISS reviews the paperwork and emails the Department and Beneficiary if any additional documents are necessary.
  • OISS files the application with USCIS and provides the Department and Beneficiary with a UPS tracking number.

4. Receive Receipt Notice and Approval by USCIS

  • Within approximately two to three weeks, OISS front desk emails Beneficiary, Department Contact, and Payroll confirming the receipt of the Receipt Notice.
  • Within approximately twelve months, OISS front desk emails Beneficiary, Department Contact, and Payroll confirming the decision made by USCIS. The Approval Notice and supporting documents may then be retrieved form the OISS.
  • If Beneficiary is outside of Evanston/Chicago area, the Department Contact is responsible for retrieving the Approval Notice and supporting documents from the OISS and shipping them to the Beneficiary.

Note: Change of Status applicants must retrieve the Approval Notice and supporting documents from the OISS and present the original to University Payroll prior to starting employment in H-1B status.