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Immigration Update: Hiring Foreign Nationals

The Office of International Students and Scholars (OISS) assists with filing non-immigrant work visa petitions for international faculty and staff.  Each situation is different depending on the position and the immigration history of the individual being hired.  Given the complications that can arise, OISS recommends that departments contact us for advice prior to offering employment to an individual.  Please click here for a comparison of work visa options and see below for more information about H-1B, Permanent Residence and TN visas.

H-1B Work Visa

The H-1B is a temporary work visa commonly used to hire Tulane international faculty and staff.  The petition filed with USCIS is employer and job specific.  Currently, the USCIS processing times for H-1B petitions is approximately 7 to 10 months.  If the H-1B petition is still pending one month before an employee is supposed to begin work , premium processing will be required and the application can be upgraded at that time.  Once the fee has been paid, a decision is required to be made within 15 days. Please visit the OISS H-1B webpage for more information. H-1B Questions? Email OISS or call 865-5208.

Please note the following updates that impact hiring individuals in H-1B status:

  • Current USCIS processing times for H-1B petitions are taking over 7.5 months.  Please go to https://egov.uscis.gov/processing-times/ for the most up to date information.  With this in mind, premium processing will be necessary if you plan to hire someone to begin employment within 6 months or less.
  • As well, the longer processing times impact extension petitions. If an H-1B extension has been pending for over 6 months, you should consider upgrading the petition to premium processing due to the 240 day rule.  The rule states that individuals can continue to work for the current employer for up to 240 days after the current H-1B visa expiration if he/she is waiting for the USCIS decision.
  • As well, if an employee in H-1B status plans to travel abroad after their H-1B has expired, their extension petition will need to be upgraded to premium processing.  The extra cost for premium processing service is $1,410.  Petitions that are upgraded are required to be processed within 15 days.
  • In addition to longer processing times, USCIS has increased their scrutiny of extension petitions.  In the past, USCIS adjudicators were instructed to defer in most cases to the prior decision approving the original petition.  USCIS has rescinded the deference memorandum and the “adjudicator’s determination is based on the merits of each case, and officers may request additional evidence if the petitioner has not submitted sufficient evidence to establish eligibility.” Therefore, H-1B extensions are not guaranteed to be approved based on prior decisions.
  • Finally, USCIS recently posted a policy memorandum (PDF, 113 KB) that provides guidance to adjudicators regarding their discretion to deny an application or petition without first issuing a Request for Evidence (RFE) or Notice of Intent to Deny (NOID) when initial evidence was not submitted or the evidence of record fails to establish eligibility.

OISS is closely monitoring all of these changes and we are spending extra time preparing each petition to ensure that it has the best possible chance to be approved.

TN

The TN visa category was developed as part of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), to facilitate the entry of Canadian and Mexican citizens to the United States to engage in professional business activities on a temporary basis. The TN visa can be renewed in 3 year increments indefinitely. Only occupations specified in Appendix 1603.D.1 of the NAFTA treaty can serve as the basis for TN employment. Visit our TN webpage for more information.

Permanent Residence

Permanent residence allows an individual to reside and work permanently in the U.S.  The individual must be employed at Tulane for at least 6 months before applying for the green card.  The entire process can take up to two years.  For more information about the permanent residence process, please review the General Counsel’s website or contact Genean Mathieu.

Petition Filing Costs

Application Cost
H-1B work authorization (initial 3 years) $960*
H-1B work authorization (3 year extension $460
Permanent Residence $2,500**
Total Estimated H-1B and Permanent Residence Costs $3,920***
TN Work Authorization (every 3 years) $460****

 

*If premium processing is needed, the cost for the initial 3 years of H-1B will be $2,370.

**If the position needs to be re-advertised it can cost over $3,500.

***In order for an individual in H-1B status to remain at Tulane beyond 6 years, they will need to apply for legal permanent residence. The deadline to apply for permanent residence is by the 5th year of H-1B status, but to avoid re-advertising costs, it is best to apply within 18 months of the job offer letter date.

****USCIS petition cost is eliminated if individual applies for TN status at the port of entry to the U.S. instead of through USCIS. Individuals in TN status cannot apply for permanent residence, but may be eligible to transition to the H-1B work visa. Once in H-1B status, they would be eligible to apply for permanent residence.