The H-1B category allows employment incident to status only with an employer who has had an H-1B petition approved by USCIS on behalf of the beneficiary (or, under H-1B portability rules, with an employer who has filed an H-1B petition on behalf of the beneficiary). Although H-1B nonimmigrants may have occasion to make occasional speeches and lectures at other institutions or at conferences, they may not receive compensation for these activities.

There is scarce guidance on the topic of reimbursement of expenses for such activity. A 1994 legacy INS letter stated that an H-1B might be reimbursed for "transportation and reasonable, incidental living expenses" incurred in connection with giving "speeches, lectures, etc." at other entities, provided:

  • the activity is incidental to the H-1B beneficiary's employment as an H-1B,
  • the H-1B beneficiary is not paid a wage or salary for his or her services, and
  • the H-1B beneficiary does not derive a monetary or other material gain from those activities

The employment of an H-1B nonimmigrant alien is specific to a particular employer and is limited to the terms of employment listed on the supporting petition. For example, an H-1B nonimmigrant alien petitioned for by an employer to work as accountant is not permitted to work for the petitioning employer as a secretary. The alien is permitted to perform only the duties specified by the petitioning company on the petition.

USCIS realizes, however, that many H-1B nonimmigrant aliens, particularly in academia, may be asked by other entities to give speeches or lectures, etc. Although there is no formal written policy or regulation addressing this issue, these activities are not precluded if they are incidental to the alien's employment as an H-1B and, provided further, that the alien is not paid a wage or salary for his or her services and does not derive a monetary or other material gain from those activities. The question of whether or not an activity may be deemed to be incidental to an H-1B nonimmigrant alien's employment can only be determined on a case by case basis. The alien may be provided with transportation and reasonable, incidental living expenses."