Office of Global Engagement

Telephone: 706-542-2900

Click here for our recently updated FAQ Regarding Immigration Status and Services at UGA

Please note: In order to best serve our students and scholars during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Immigration Services will continue to mail documents through fall semester to reduce in-person office visits. See here for more information.

Researcher, Faculty, or Staff

The office of Immigration Services at the University of Georgia is responsible for processing all U.S. visa sponsorships for international students, scholars, faculty, and staff. International employees needing a U.S. work visa in order to accept or continue employment at UGA may be sponsored by their hiring Department for an H-1B temporary work visa.

  • Eligibility +

    Both the position offered and the employee must meet the eligibility criteria set by federal regulation.

    Position Offered

    • Bachelor’s degree is the minimum entry requirement for the position
    • The degree requirement for the job is common to the industry or the job is so complex or unique that it can be performed only by an individual with a degree
    • The employer normally requires a degree or its equivalent for the position
    • The nature of the specific duties is so specialized and complex that the knowledge required to perform the duties is usually associated with the attainment of a bachelor’s or higher degree
    • May be full-time or part-time.  If part-time, the department must agree to track the actual hours worked by the employee (federal requirement even for salaried part-time employees)

    Employee Qualifications

    • Have completed a U.S. bachelor’s or higher degree required by the specific specialty occupation from an accredited college or university
    • Hold a foreign degree that is the equivalent to a U.S. bachelor’s or higher degree in the specialty occupation

    Have education, training, or progressively responsible experience in the specialty that is equivalent to the completion of such a degree, and have recognition of expertise in the specialty through progressively responsible positions directly related to the specialty.

  • Sponsorship Process +

    Requesting sponsorship from Immigration Services

    UGA Hiring Departments will initiate visa sponsorship with Immigration Services. All potential H-1B employees will complete several e-forms in the  Compass Portal

    Upon submission of all required materials, the immigration services advisor will initial the H-1B sponsorship which requires three steps:

    1. Request the Prevailing Wage from the Department of Labor (DoL).
      1. Compare the prevailing wage and the actual wages paid to similarly employed workers.
      2. The department must agree to meet or exceed the higher of the prevailing wage or the actual wage.

    2. File a Labor Condition Application (LCA) with DoL. The LCA is returned from DoL in seven to fourteen days. By submitting the LCA, the employer agrees to abide by the following Labor Condition Statements:
      1. Wages: The employer will pay the higher of the actual or prevailing wage rate, pay for nonproductive time, and offer benefits on the same basis as offered to U.S. workers
      2. Working Conditions: The employer will provide working conditions (including hours, shifts, vacations, seniority-based benefits) which will not adversely affect similarly employed U.S. workers
      3. Strike, Lockout or Work Stoppage:  There is no strike or lockout in the same occupational classification on the LCA
        1. ETA will be notified if a strike/lockout occurs
        2. No H-1B will be placed at a site with a strike/lockout

    3. Mail the I-129 petition via FedEx or UPS to US Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS), at the cost of the sponsoring department.
  • Duration & Timeframe +

    An initial H-1B sponsorship may be requested for up to three years. An extension application may be filed to allow for an additional three year period. No extension beyond a total of six years is possible, unless the employee has a pending and backlogged green card application. The six year total is inclusive of any prior periods of H-1B status with other U.S. employers.

    Timeframe

    The time required to process an H-1B sponsorship can vary widely depending on the current status and location of the international employee. An employee who currently holds H-1B status at another U.S. employer may be able to transfer that status to UGA within 8 – 10 weeks. An employee who currently holds a different nonimmigrant status in the U.S. will need to either file a change of status application with the U.S. government, or depart the U.S. once our H-1B petition is approved, apply for the new H-1B visa, and returned to the U.S. Either of these processes may take 4 to 8 months. To ensure timeliness and efficiency our office should be notified as soon as a job offer is accepted by an international employee needing a sponsorship.

  • Costs +

    The Department of Homeland Security current filing fees for an initial H-1B sponsorship are as follows:

    • I-129 employer petition: $460.00
    • Anti-fraud fee: $500.00
    • Premium Processing fee: $1,440.00

    The Immigration Services office at UGA is a cost recovery program and so fees are charged for sponsorship services in order to fund the operations of our office.

    Immigration Services’ Fee Information

    UGA departments paying these fees may pay them from departmental discretionary accounts (foundation, UGARF F&A return (900 accounts), or residual balance (950 accounts).

    With the exception of the premium processing fee all the above fees must be paid by the sponsoring department and may not be paid by the employee. The employee may pay the premium processing fee only if the annual salary paid to the employee is at least $1,440.00 more than the prevailing wage for the position set by the Department of Labor.

  • Dependents +

    Immediate family members (spouse and children under 21 years of age) of H-1B sponsored employees may also be sponsored for H-4 dependent visas. These visas allow for full or part-time study, however no employment is allowed.

  • Additional Information +
    Maintaining Status and Regulatory Compliance

    Immigration Services must be notified prior to any change in employment status or conditions for H-1B employees, including, rate of pay, full / part-time status, work location, job title or duty change. An amended petition may be required before any changes can be effected. The wages of an H-1B employee may not be reduced prior to notifying the Immigration Services office, and assessing whether a new petition must be filed. If the hiring department terminates the employment in advance of the approved end date, the employer must offer to pay the return airfare back to the employee’s home country. Requests for extensions of H status should be received by the Immigration Services office six months prior to the current expiration date. Please consult our caseload assignment sheet to find your H-1B immigration advisor:

    Scholar Caseload Division

    Government Site Visits

    USCIS will occasionally send officers to inspect the work site locations and employment conditions of any H-1B sponsored employee. These visits are often random and unannounced and may occur before or after a petition approval. The officer may ask for any information relating to the employment of the international as well as proof of employment (pay stubs or W-2 forms). If an officer does visit your office please notify your immigration advisor immediately.

    U.S. Permanent Residency

    Employees hired under the H-1B visa sponsorship are often eligible for an additional sponsorship for US permanent residency (a.k.a. “green card”). If the hiring department is interested in a permanent residency sponsorship for an international employee they should contact our office as soon as possible after a job offer is made to the employee.