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If you are new to the H-1B process at UC Merced, download this PDF document outlining the H-1B petition process

The intent of the H-1B visa is to help US employers who cannot otherwise obtain needed skills and abilities from the U.S. workforce by authorizing the temporary employment of a qualified foreign national.

A foreign national may qualify for H-1B visa classification if they perform services in a "specialty occupation." To establish a specialty occupation, the employer must demonstrate that the duties require “theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge.” Under U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) regulations, the petitioner must also prove that one or more of the following holds true:

1. A bachelor’s degree or higher is normally required for the position;

2. The degree requirement is normal to the employer for the position;

3. A degree requirement is normal to the industry, or the position is so complex or unique that the duties could be performed only by a degree holder; or

4. The nature of the duties for the particular position is so highly specialized and complex that the knowledge required is usually associated with the attainment of a bachelor’s or higher degree.

At UC Merced, specialty occupation analysis requires close examination of the actual job duties by the Office of International Affairs (OIA) and an immigration attorney to establish specialty occupation standing.

The H-1B process is more complex than other immigration status and the processing time is long and inflexible. Normal processing can take eight months due to the Department of Labor (DOL) and the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) processes. The hiring department at UC Merced must initiate the H-1B application process on behalf of the foreign national they wish to invite, and then provide (in coordination with the foreign national) the required documentation to the OIA. Furthermore, the department is required to pay a salary to the international scholar and that salary must meet the "prevailing wage" as determined by DOL. Because of these strict DOL requirements part-time positions normally do not qualify for UC Merced H-1B sponsorship.

H-1B Status is routinely used at UC Merced for permanent faculty and academic positions and in very rare cases high level IT staff positions that are critical to the campus's teaching and research mission. Visa sponsorship for all other staff positions requires the explicit approval of the Provost and/or Assistant Vice Chancellor for Human Resource.

H-1B Status is initially granted for a maximum period of three years and can be extended to a total of six years (regardless of the number of employers.) Because the application process is lengthy and complex requesting a full-three year H-1B Status (providing the intention is to retain the scholar for that long) is recommended and advantageous.

All H-1B requests must be processed through OIA. Outside attorneys are not authorized to petition for H-1B status for any UC Merced employee.