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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.

Instructions for Host Departments

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.