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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, which will initiate the process with the OISS. All initial H-1B petitions will require a premium processing request from your department.

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 current and/or previous DS-2019(s), J-1 visa stamp(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 an F-1 visa:

  • Copies of current and/or previous I-20(s), F-1 visa stamp(s), EAD card(s)

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 Docketwise.

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 and submitting the petition with premium processing request, the OISS Front Desk emails you, your department contact, and Payroll confirming the receipt of the application and then the decision made by USCIS. 

If you are in the U.S. at the time, the Approval Notice and supporting documents can be picked up at the OISS. If you are outside of Evanston/Chicago area, please reach out to your department, so they can arrange for your Approval packet to be shipped 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.

Please check the US Consulate/Embassy website for any additional documents required by an individual consular post. Supporting documentation for the visa appointment can be found in the approval packet provided to you by the OISS.

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 60-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. 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.