H-1B Employment Visa
For non-U.S. citizens, Stanford may use H-1B visas to accommodate temporary employment in professional occupations.
The university most commonly uses the H-1B temporary professional worker category for various academic positions, such as tenure-track faculty members or research associates. Other regular staff positions such as programmer/analysts and research specialists may also be eligible.
Only Bechtel International Center can submit H-1B visa applications on behalf of Stanford University and only does so for Stanford University schools and departments.
Requirements and Restrictions
Following are some requirements and restrictions Bechtel must consider before it can submit an H-1B visa request on a school or department’s behalf. If you are a prospective employee, you should direct all questions to the sponsoring department.
- Stanford does not sponsor part-time H-1B positions.
- Individuals who are subject to the Two-year Home-country Physical Presence Requirement are not eligible for H-1B status unless they have received a waiver or completed the two-year period.
- The H-1 program requires employers, when they compile H-1 petitions, to establish a very specific relationship between a job that normally and customarily requires the holder to have at least a Bachelor’s degree, and a candidate who has at least a Bachelor’s degree (or its foreign equivalent), in the field of study that is specific to the job.
- Many staff positions at Stanford are formally described as needing a Bachelor’s degree “or equivalent education and experience.” When Stanford has the discretion to hire a candidate who does not have a Bachelor’s degree, the job is not H-1 eligible. Likewise, if it’s possible for someone to do the job without a Bachelor’s degree in the field of study that is specific to the job, the job is not H-1 eligible.
- Sponsoring an H-1B visa requires the employer to pay the employee the prevailing wage or the actual wage, whichever is higher.
- The prevailing wage is determined from a schedule of occupations published by the US Department of Labor and is not a Stanford or Bechtel International Center decision. Bechtel cannot determine the prevailing wage until the required documentation is received from the sponsoring department. Prevailing wage schedules are updated every July.
- The actual wage is determined by Stanford's pattern and practice of compensation. Stanford sets salaries on the basis of internal policies and criteria; occasionally, the prevailing wage is higher than the salary Stanford has calculated as part of the offer of employment.
H-1B status expires at the end of the employment period, regardless of the end date of the H-1B approval notice. There is no grace period to remain in the U.S. beyond that date. The department should work with the employee as the employment end date approaches.
If the employment is terminated by the department prior to the end of the H-1B petition validity period the department is required to offer to pay reasonable costs of return transportation for the employee to return to the last place of residence abroad.
Postdoctoral Fellow or Scholar
The J-1 visa is the appropriate visa type for most Stanford postdoctoral fellows or scholars. In rare circumstances, Stanford may consider postdoctoral scholars for H-1B sponsorship; however, the university prohibits H-1B visa recipients from receiving fellowship support. The host department needs to contact the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs before initiating the H-1B process on behalf of a postdoc.
H-1 regulations restrict the use of H-1 status by most nonimmigrant physicians when the position’s patient care responsibilities exceed 20% of the role. There are exceptions for graduates of a foreign medical school who have passed all three parts of the US Medical Licensing Exams (MLEs), and for "USMGs", who graduated from a US medical school.
Typically, ECFMG alumni are required to pass the MLEs to be eligible for their training but are subject to the two-year residence requirement, which — in most cases — makes them ineligible for an H-1. (Canadians may be able to take advantage of an exception to this rule for H-1 purposes.)
A valid California license or exemption must accompany H-1 petitions for clinical faculty. This may complicate the timeline. See the California Medical Board site for information about licensure.
Timeline for Submission of Applications
US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) accepts H-1 petitions six months prior to the start date noted on the petition. Departments should initiate H-1B procedures at least three months before the employee’s scheduled start date. Proposed start dates less than two months from when Bechtel receives a documented request are considered emergency applications and require extensive justification. For an additional fee, Premium Processing obliges USCIS to make a decision in 15 days. Note that Premium Processing is a service of USCIS, and is not relevant to Stanford's internal processing time.
H-1 cases are forwarded to Bechtel in Workflow. After being granted authority to use Workflow, department representatives are strongly encouraged to watch a training session on the use of H-1B visa workflow for department administrators. Bechtel cannot begin working on an H-1B request until we receive an approved workflow transaction initiated by the Stanford department and the complete documentation.
Length of Stay
The initial residency period for an H-1B visa holder can be no more than three years. The visa can be extended as required but the maximum stay permitted in H-1B status is no more than six years. There is no minimum period.
Stanford’s approval may not exceed the term of employment or appointment offered.
See H-1B Petition Process for step-by-step instructions for Workflow, process flowcharts, and helpful reference sheets.