Individuals coming to the United States to perform temporary services in a specialty occupation may be eligible for H-1B status. A specialty occupation is defined as one that requires "theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge, and attainment of a bachelor's or higher degree, or its equivalent, as a minimum requirement." It is an appropriate visa for all tenure track academic appointments, physician appointments at the UVM College of Medicine, and staff positions. All H-1B positions must require at least a bachelor's degree in a related academic discipline. Because the H-1B process has high departmental costs, inflexible job requirements, and a lengthy government processing times (months), the OIE generally recommends pursuing J-1 if at all possible.

Eligibility note:  Consider the questions below.  If you answer 'no' to one of the questions below, please contact our International Scholar Advising team at to talk through your situation. If you answered 'yes' to all questions above, please proceed with the instructions below.

  • Is this position full-time?
  • Is this position long-term, meaning 9 months or longer?
  • Does the employee have a bachelor's or higher degree in a discipline required for the position?

H-1B Application Process

Departmental Request

The H-1B process must be initiated by the hiring department through the OIE's online iStart system. Requests should be made as soon as it is clear that there is a need for H-1B employment, preferably at least six months before the proposed start date. Please see our department instructions for using iStart

Wage Determination

UVM is required to pay H-1B employees the higher of the prevailing wage or the actual wage. The prevailing wage is either the minimum base wage in a Collective Bargaining Agreement, or a wage set by the Department of Labor for the geographic area in which the employment will take place. The actual wage is the wage paid by UVM to other employees in the same position with similar qualifications. The OIE will analyze the wage offered in light of these requirements and inform the department if any changes are necessary before proceeding with the H-1B.

Labor Condition Application

The OIE will file a Labor Condition Application (LCA) with the Department of Labor, attesting to UVM's compliance with the requirements for H-1B employment. The H-1B employment is limited to the position described in the LCA. This is why it is crucial that departments provide accurate position details to the OIE contact us immediately if there are any changes in the employment post-approval.

Petition Submission

The OIE will submit an H-1B petition, filing fees, and supporting documents to the US Citizenship and Immigration Services.

    Costs and Timeline

    How far in advance should the department request an H-1B?

    Departments should make an H-1B request 6 months prior to intended start date or date of status expiration when possible. Once the iStart submission is completed, generally it takes 8-10 weeks for the Office of International Education to prepare the H-1B petition. Upon filing, US Citizenship and Immigration Services then must adjudicate the petition, and if approved, the employee may not commence work until the hard copy approval notice arrives on campus or the employment start date, whichever is later. USCIS regular processing timelines are variable and most typically take between 2-6 months for initial adjudication. An expedited Premium Processing option is available for an additional filing fee. The Office of International Education may be unable to process cases with fewer than 2 months lead time from a submitted iStart request and in those cases, departments may need to alter a start date of employment  This is based on a range of different factors for a given client's case, and for clients already in the US may result in the need to travel. It is imperative to begin conversations with our office as soon as the likely foreign national hire is known. 

    What costs are involved in sponsoring an employee for an H-1B?

    Filing fees for new H-1B petitions are $960 and legally must be paid by the employer. Case shipping fees may range from $25 to $100.  Expedited processing through USCIS costs an additional $2,500, and is required in many cases. For some cases, a professional credential evaluation is necessary, which typically costs $85. Costs are borne by the sponsoring department.

    Is there a special process for setting up a new foreign national employee with Human Resources?

    Foreign national employees should be set up with Human Resources as any other university hire.  Please see this explanation of the UVM Human Resources Process for additional information.

    Post-Approval Next Steps

    New UVM Employees: Getting a Visa

    Upon receiving the official approval documents from USCIS, the OIE will send them to the employee via courier. The employee can anticipate receiving them within 3-5 business days. Electronic copies are not sufficient for visa procurement.  The OIE advises that new employees plan 8 weeks between receiving their H-1B approval documents and travel to the US to accommodate the visa application and interview process at a US embassy or consulate abroad. Some consular posts have significant waiting periods for visa processing. In general, most posts strive to provide appointments within two weeks from the initial request.  Visa appointment wait times for a specific consular post can be found on the US Department of State website.

    Please note that citizens of some countries may encounter security checks that could delay receipt of their visa by weeks, even months.  UVM has encountered this situation in several cases with citizens of China and India.  Delays of 2-4 months have been experienced in extreme cases.

    New employees coming from within the United States

    Some new employees will come to UVM from within the US. Perhaps they have completed a graduate program elsewhere and are transitioning from another status to H-1B. Others may already be in H-1B status with another employer, and UVM will petition to change the employer and extend their stay. Depending upon the individual's circumstance, OIE will either mail the approval notice to the employee or have them pick it up at their check-in appoitnment with us upon arrival to campus. 

    Continuing UVM Employees with a New Status: Updating the I-9

    Employees who already are working at UVM in another status such as F-1 or J-1 need to make an appointment to pick up their approval notice and update or complete a new I-9 (see check-in appointment section below).

    Post-Arrival Check-In

    All H-1B visa holders must formally check in with the Office of International Education on or before the first day of work. There are two parts to the check-in: An electronic set of forms the employee must complete prior to meeting with OIE staff; and an in-person appointment.

    During check-in process, the employee will:

    • Complete the I-9
    • Complete information for UVM Tax Administration.  This form ensures that the foreign national is taxed properly.
    • Review the information related to maintaining H-1B status
    • Learn about the Social Security Administration when relevant for SSN application


    Still have questions?  Contact us at or 802-656-4296.