H-1B Visa

  • As a dual intent status,H-1B status allows UF hiring departments to sponsor international employees for up to six years, three years at a time, to work in the U.S., and is eligible to apply for permanent residency. There are limited circumstances that will allow an international employee to maintain H-1B status past the 6-year limit such as if they are in a certain stage of permanent residency (“Green Card”) processing.. 
  • View the H-1B Visa Petition Roadmap.
  • As a higher education institution, University of Florida is exempt from H-1B Cap, so hiring departments can apply for H-1B petitions all year round. All petitions for H-1B status must be initiated by the hiring department and filed with UF Immigration Compliance Services nine months prior to the employee’s effective date.
  • Email ICS at HR-ICS@ufl.edu for questions.


H-1B status is available only to eligible and qualified international employees who will hold a position classified as a “specialty occupation.” There is no minimum FTE for to be considered for an H-1B sponsorship. 

H-1B status requirements:

  • Job must require a minimum of a bachelor’s degree.
  • The candidate must possess the degree in a specialized field.

Positions that don’t qualify:

  • Positions with minimum requirements that contains “or any equivalent combination of experience/training/education” in lieu of a bachelor’s degree.

Individuals who do not qualify for H-1B sponsorship: 

  • Those who are subject to the 212(e) Two-Year Home Residency Requirement based on their current or prior J-1/J-2 status until they have either fulfilled the requirement or obtained a waiver through the Department of State and USCIS. 
  • Those who have already used the six-year limit on H-1B status and have not departed the U.S. for at least 365 days. 

UF Policy on Post-Doctoral Candidates

UF considers H-1B sponsorship for post-doctoral candidates on a case-by-case basis. Reach out to ICS for guidance. The hiring department should consider a J-1 visa with the UF International Center first.

A Post-Doctoral title may be considered unsuitable for an H-1B due to the high costs associated with filing it and the on-going Prevailing Wage Determination issues with the Department of Labor. 

Types of Cases

Change of Status

If an international employee is currently in the US in a valid nonimmigrant status (H-4, J-1, J-2, F-1, F-2, O-1, etc., but NOT B-1/B-2), the status can be changed to H-1B. The international employee can begin working on H-1B status once the department has the original USCIS approval notice in hand and the start date has occurred.

International employees currently working at UF under another status which allows them to work (J-1 or F-1 OPT) can continue to work under that status until the H-1B status is approved and the start date is effective or that other status ends, whichever occurs FIRST. If the petition is submitted to USCIS during the F-1 or J-1 grace period, the international employee is eligible to remain in the US but not eligible to work or volunteer.

Certain Change of Status requests from current J status holders will require the international employee to obtain a waiver of the 212(e) Two-Year Home Residency Requirement through the Department of State and USCIS or for the international employee to have fulfilled the two-year requirement in their home country. Not all J status holders are subject to the Two-Year Home Residency Requirement.


UF is permitted to apply for H-1B status for international employees for periods of up to 3 years initially. An extension can be requested through additional petitions until the total time in H-1B status reaches 6 years. An extension request may be filed with USCIS up to 6 months prior to the expiration date.

The desired start date will be the day after the previous H-1B expires. The employee may continue working for up to 240-days after the current H-1B expires and reside in the US as long as the H-1B extension was filed BEFORE the current H-1B expiration. The 240-day period commences on the day following the expiration of the previous USCIS H-1B approval. If the petition were to be denied within that 240-day period, the employment authorization would end on that day.

H-1B status can be extended past the 6-year limit under certain circumstances with a pending Permanent Residence (“Green Card”) application.


Departments must consult with ICS prior to changing any terms of the international employee’s H-1B employment (i.e., when there is a change in the employee’s job title, duties, worksite location, FTE, etc.) for existing employees to determine whether an amended petition is required.

If an amendment is required, the employee can begin the new working conditions once the petition is submitted to USCIS and the requested start date has occurred.

Change of Employer/Transfer (Portability)

H-1B status is employer specific. If a hiring department wishes to sponsor an individual who is already in the U.S. in H-1B status through another employer, UF must file a petition for change of employer with USCIS. The international employee must maintain current H-1B status in order to be eligible for an H-1B transfer.

There is a 60-day grace period for those whose employment is terminated prior to their H-1B expiration date, which will enable them to extend their status, change or otherwise maintain status or prepare to depart the United States. We would advise there be no gap in employment to be safe.

The 60-day grace period can be less depending on the H-1B expiration date. It is a 60-day grace period OR the date the H-1B actually expires – whichever comes first.

Per UF policy, the international employee can only begin employment at UF once we receive the electronic “USCIS Email Approval Notification” from Fragomen AND the start date occurs.

Consular Processing

If the international employee is abroad, this would be a case for consular processing. With the original H-1B approval notice, the international employee will apply for the H-1B visa stamp at the US Consulate/Embassy abroad. The international employee will not be in valid H-1B status until entering the US and presenting the original H-1B approval notice (Form I-797) and passport containing the H-1B visa stamp. International employees may enter the US as early as 10 days prior to the approved start date.

Upon entry, the international employee must provide the department a copy of their H-1B visa stamp and their electronic I-94. The department must forward copies of these documents to ICS.

POE (Port of Entry)/PFI (Pre-Flight Inspection)

Typically reserved for Canadian Citizens. Canadians are not issued H-1B visa stamps in their passports. With the original approval notice, the international employee will be able to seek entry into the US either via land or air.

Upon entry, the international employee must provide the department a copy of their H-1B entry stamp and their electronic I-94. The department must forward copies of these documents to ICS.

Concurrent Filing

H-1B status is employer specific. An international employee may have multiple H-1B statuses at any one time. Each employer MUST petition for the H-1B status.

Process & Timeline

Step 1: Department Initiates Case

The department gathers information and documentation, following the Instruction Guide for Initiating H-1B Visa Petition (ufl.edu), and submits the case in the Fragomen Portal.

Step 2: ICS Review (1-2 weeks)

ICS reviews the submitted information and may reach out to the department with questions. Once the application is complete, ICS approves and submits the questionnaire to Fragomen.

Step 3: Prevailing Wage Determination (5+ months)

The University of Florida must pay the higher of either the prevailing wage determined by the Department of Labor or the Actual Wage. In some cases, a Non-Certified PW Acknowledgment Form (OES Memo) may be required for start dates less than 8 months from case initiation.

Step 4: LCA Posting (2 weeks)

In collaboration with Fragomen, ICS posts the “Notice of Filing of a Labor Condition Application” for 10 consecutive business days. The posting notice is provided to the department for physical posting at non-UF sites. The posting of LCA will be prioritized based on the start date / expiration date of the H-1B status.

Step 5: LCA Certification (1 week)

Once ICS verifies the posting, Fragomen submits the Labor Condition Application (LCA) for official certification by the Department of Labor.

Step 6: H-1B Petition Preparation (2-3 weeks)

After LCA certification, Fragomen prepares the USCIS filing for the H-1B petition along with supporting documents. ICS reviews and signs the petition, then returns it to Fragomen for filing. The preparation will be prioritized based on the start date / expiration date of the H-1B status.

Step 7: USCIS Processing (15 days to 12 months)

The processing time for H-1B petitions varies, but it typically ranges from 8 to 12 months. Under “Premium Processing,” USCIS will adjudicate (i.e., approve, deny, or issue a Request for Evidence (“RFE”) the petition within 15 business days.

Step 8: Approval Notice (1-2 weeks)

The original approval notices are sent to Fragomen by USCIS. Fragomen informs ICS and forwards the original notice to our office. ICS will then notify the department about collecting the original approval notice.

Note: Additional time may be required for cases involving international employees currently abroad (consular processing) or those traveling abroad for a new visa, including visa appointments, interviews, and administrative processing. For consular processing cases, the original approval notice is sent directly to the international employee.


Fees for USCIS and Fragomen:

  • $1,000 Fragomen legal fee for case processing 
  • H-1B Filing Fee – required.
  • Fraud Prevention and Detection Fee – required for new UF H-1B petitions.
  • Premium Processing (PPS) fee – required for new UF H-1B petitions.
  • Request for Evidence response fees: determined at time of RFE.
  • Additional Rush fees – cases submitted with less than a certain number of days until the requested start date are subject to additional Rush fees. Rush fees are an employer fee. Cases requiring Rush fees should be discussed with ICS prior to initiation submission.
  • Additional service provided – if needed, Fragomen will advance the filing fees for the department. There is an additional $100.00 processing fee if you use this service.

For detailed fee information, check the ICS Fees and Rush Chart.


How long can an international employee be in H-1B status?

An international employee can stay in H-1B status for a maximum of six years, initially for 3 years and extendable for another 3 years. Extensions beyond 6 years are possible in certain cases, such as during permanent residency processing.

Recapture of time. If an international employee has spent periods of time abroad during the validity of their H-1B petition, they may be able to “recapture” that time and extend the duration of their H-1B stay for a period equal to the time the international employee spent outside the U.S. for a maximum of 6 years in H-1B status. 

How soon after filing an H-1B petition can an international employee start to work?

The time to start working depends on the situation:

    • Change of Status: After obtaining the original USCIS approval notice and the effective start date. If the international employee is currently working at UF under another status (J-1 or F-1 OPT) they can continue to work under that status until the H-1B status is approved and the start date is effective or that other status ends, whichever occurs FIRST. If the petition is submitted to USCIS during the F-1 or J-1 grace period, the international employee is eligible to remain in the US but not eligible to work or volunteer. 
    • Change of Employer: Upon receiving the electronic approval email from USCIS.
    • Consulate Processing: After receiving an H-1B visa stamp and entering the U.S. in H-1B status.
    • Amendment: Once Fragomen submits the petition to USCIS, and the requested start date has occurred.
What happens if the change of status approval notice is not received before the current status expires?

The international employee must stop working, be in “No Pay” status, and can use earned vacation time, if available.

What if the international employee’s job responsibilities change or they have to switch job locations?

If the international employee has a material change in job responsibilities (including promotions, FTE, etc.) and/or there is a change in location that is outside of their geographical area (i.e., city or metropolitan statistical area), UF will need to file an amended H-1B petition on the international employee’s behalf.  Any change in job location or job duties should be brought to the attention of their department liaison, prior to accepting the change in employment. The amendment will need to be filed with USCIS prior to any changes in employment. The international employee can begin the new working conditions once the petition is submitted to USCIS and the requested start date has occurred. 

How is H-1B status extended?

H-1B extensions can be filed up to 6 months before the current status expires. If the extension is filed prior to expiration of the current authorized stay, they may be eligible for continuous work authorization for up to 240 days while the application is pending. 

Can an international employee continue working if their H-1B Extension has not been approved by the time their current H-1B expires?

Yes, they can work for up to 240 days after the current H-1B expires, but if the extension isn’t approved by then, they must stop working.

How does an international employee or department check the status of a case after it has been filed with USCIS?

Check the case status using USCIS’s online Case Status tool.

When will the international employee receive their I-797 Approval Notice?

It may take several days to weeks for USCIS to mail the approval notice to Fragomen, who will then forward it to the department for the international employee.

When should the department request the filing fee checks?

Request checks no earlier than 6 months before the desired start date, as checks are only valid for 6 months.

Who are the filing fee checks made out to?

Checks should be payable to U.S. Department of Homeland Security, address to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, 24000 Avila RD RM 2302 Laguna Niguel, CA 92677 United States. 

Can an international employee travel internationally during H-1B extension under regular processing?

International employees can only travel abroad after receiving the H-1B Extension approval notice. It takes at least 8 months under regular processing, and filing can start no earlier than 6 months before the requested start date.

Can an international employee get paid for outside conferences and complete work outside of their H-1B?

No, an H-1B employee can’t accept payment for work outside their H-1B, but they can receive reimbursement for travel expenses/living expenses associated with an activity. The international employee should keep a list detailing the expenses and how the money was applied in case they must prove 100% went towards travel and associated expenses related to this outside activity.

Can an international employee pursue green card while on H-1B?

Yes, an international employee can apply for permanent residency while on H-1B, as H-1B allows for dual intent.

How long must an international employee wait before being sponsored for permanent residency?

Departments decide how long an employee must work for UF before considering permanent residency sponsorship.

When is the latest permanent residency can be sponsored?

For H-1B extensions beyond 6 years, the first step must be submitted by the 4th year in H-1B status.

Can an H-4 dependent work?

Generally, H-4 dependents can’t work, but exceptions exist for specific circumstances.

Can an H-4 dependent volunteer?

It depends on the type of organization and the nature of the work. Volunteering at UF is not permitted for H-4 dependents.

Can an H-4 dependent attend school?

Yes, H-4 dependents can attend school.

How long can a dependent child be in H-4 status?

An unmarried child can be in H-4 status as long as they are under 21 and their parent maintains H-1B status.