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H-1B "temporary worker" nonimmigrant status is for the person coming to the U.S. temporarily to perform services in a specialty occupation.  A specialty occupation is one, which requires the theoretical and practical application of highly specialized knowledge and a baccalaureate or higher degree (or its equivalent) as the standard minimum requirement for entry into the particular position.  The total maximum period of stay in H-1B is limited to six years.  An initial petition can be requested for a maximum of 3 years only.  At Lehigh the H-1B petition will be requested for the length of time of the appointment letter only.    The H-1B status is employer specific.  The approval for Lehigh will only be valid for the individual while they work at Lehigh University.  If an individual wishes to work for another employer, that employer must request an H-1B visa for the individual before the individual may work for that particular employer.  H-1B workers do pay all taxes, including social security tax.  Before the H-1B petition can be filed, a Labor Condition Application must be approved by the Department of Labor.  Please see Labor Condition instructions and forms.   All application documents must be submitted in English.   

NOTE: Immigration limits the amount of H-1B visas issued per year (65,000 + 20,000).  Non-profit or educational institutions are exempt from the cap. As Lehigh is an Educational non-profit institution, Lehigh is not subject to the cap.  (Immigration calendar year begins October 1 and ends September 30.)


Change of Status to H-1B:

UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES MAY THE BENEFICIARY OF THE H-1B PETITION WORK UNTIL AFTER IMMIGRATION HAS APPROVED THE "CHANGE OF STATUS TO H-1B" noted on Form I-797 and received by Lehigh.   If work occurs prior to the approval date, a violation of Sec. 245(c) occurs and an individual could be ineligible to adjust to permanent resident status while in the U.S.   The employer would be in violation of IRCA, 1986.  For example:  If the applicant is currently on Optional Practical Training, employment must cease if the practical training period expires and the H-1B status has not yet been approved. 

PORTABILITY - If a new employee is currently in H-1B status at another company/institution in the U.S., Lehigh University must still file for an H-1B status for this individual.  USCIS Portability laws allow the employee to begin working on the previous H-1B at Lehigh after the new H-1B application for Lehigh has been filed and before the new application has been approved.  Once Lehigh University receives the notice from Immigration that the H-1B application was received, the new employee can begin working at Lehigh.   


PREMIUM PROCESSING – This process is to expedite immigration processing of the H-1B application once USCIS receives the application.  The fee is $1,225 (check made payable to Department of Homeland Security) and this insures that Immigration will respond to the application within 15 days of receipt.  Please understand this does not mean the application will be approved.  It means that Immigration will quickly review the application and respond to it.


Please Note:  The H-1B Visa Reform Act of 2004 and the L-1 Visa Reform Act of 2004 creates a new Fraud Prevention and Detection fee of $500 which must be paid by employers seeking an initial grant of H-1B or L-1 status on behalf of a beneficiary. The new $500 fee applies to any new petition filed on or after March 8, 2005. There are no exemptions from the $500 Fraud Prevention and Detection Fee.  Checks for the new fee should be made payable to DHS (Department of Homeland Security).


For the Office of International Students and Scholars (ISS) to properly complete an H-1B application to submit to USCIS the following documents from the department and prospective employee are required:



  1. A completed H-1B visa Request Form signed by the department chairperson. (ISS Form for data purposes) BOTH APPLICANT AND DEPARTMENT COMPLETE 
  2. Diploma(s) - Bachelor's, Master's and/or Ph.D. 
  3. Curriculum Vitae, including list of publications, honors, etc.
  4. Application filing fee of $325 for the H-1B Petition.  Check should be made payable to the US Department of Homeland Security.  APPLICANT or DEPARTMENT
  5. Any other documents as proof of Distinguished Merit and Ability 
  6. Name(s) and country of citizenship of any dependents who will accompany or are presently with the applicant. 
  7. Letter attesting copies of documents submitted are exact, unaltered copies of the originals.
  8. If in the U.S., copy of Form I-94, copies of passport and visa of the applicant.
  9. Visa History in U.S. (If in the U.S.) - including beginning and ending date, place, employment, visa type and all back-up materials such as copies of all prior I-20’s or DS-2019’s. 
  10. If you are presently in the U.S. working (H1, F1, J1, J2 etc.), please also supply a copy of your last 2 or 3 pay stubs.   This is used to prove that you were actually employed. 
  11. If married will need a copy of the marriage certificate.   If there are foreign born children, copies of their birth certificates.
  12. Check for $15.00 for Federal Express made payable to Lehigh University
  13. Transcripts of most recent degree program.
  14. If Diplomas and Transcripts are from an overseas educational institution, a credential evaluation is required. 



  1. A completed H-1B visa Request Form signed by the department chairperson. (ISS Form for data purposes) BOTH APPLICANT AND DEPARTMENT COMPLETE 
  2. A strong support letter from the Chairperson addressed to, “United States Citizenship and Immigration Service, California Service Center, ATTN: CAP EXEMPT H-1B, 24000 Avila Road, Room 2312, Laguna Niguel, CA 92677" describing, in some detail, the exceptional abilities of the beneficiary.  This letter should run approximately one full typed page.  This letter is sent to the ISS office for inclusion in the H-1B application. 
  3. The copy of the signed appointment between Lehigh University and the applicant.
  4. Fraud Prevention and Detection fee of $500 (as of 3/8/2005) which must be paid by employer. Check payable to the US Department of Homeland Security
  5. Application filing fee of $325 for the H-1B Petition.  Check should be made payable to the US Department of Homeland Security.  APPLICANT or DEPARTMENT
  6. Completed LCA Wage Questionnaire.
  7. Completed Prevailing Wage form.


NOTE FOR J-1 Applicants:  If you are changing from a J-1 with 212(e) requirement (two year home residency requirement) to the H-1B, an approved waiver from USCIS must be submitted with the H-1B application.  The J-1 waiver process can take from 3 months to 1 year to be approved.


Change of Status for Family:

If the beneficiaries family is in the United States and the request is for a Change of Nonimmigrant Status to that of an H-4 for dependents the following additional documents are required:

  1. If the spouse and children are seeking change of status to H-4, they must file the change of status on Form I-539.  The fee for the I-539 is $290 (includes all dependents.  Check should be made payable to the US Department of Homeland Security).  I-539 Form can be downloaded from the Immigration websites at www.uscis.gov
  2. Copies of I-94's, visa and passport information of each dependent must be submitted.
  3. Copies of marriage and birth certificates are also required.

No employment of any kind, including assistantships and student employment, is permitted for those on H-4 status.  


If you have any questions please contact ISS


Office of International Students and Scholars • Lehigh University • 32 Sayre Drive, Coxe Hall, Bethlehem, PA 18015 • 610-758-4859 • Fax: 610-758-5156 • intnl@lehigh.edu
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