What is the Premium Processing Service?

An H-1B employer (or beneficiary if s/he has a personal reason for submitting a petition with PP) can elect to pay a separate $2500 premium processing fee to accelerate processing of the petition. The fee must be paid in a check made payable to the US Department of Homeland Security that is separate from other H-1B filing fees. Under the premium processing program, USCIS guarantees that within 15 calendar-days it will issue either an approval notice, a notice of intent to deny, a request for evidence (RFE), or a notice of investigation for fraud or misrepresentation. If USCIS fails to meet its 15-calendar-day guarantee, it will refund the $2,500 to the company, but will continue to process the petition expeditiously. In addition to expedited processing, companies that participate in the program may use a dedicated phone number and e-mail address to check on the status of their petition or ask any other questions concerning their petition.

Who can apply for Premium Processing and how?

Only the Temple University Office of International Student and Scholar Services can apply for this service. You cannot do so as an individual. We will complete Form I-907 (Request for Premium Processing) and attach the fee of $2,500. The fee should be paid by a separate check, not to be combined with the regular processing fee.

 

Visit our site for Required Wage Information and the Actual Wage worksheet

 

 

Specialty occupation

The statutory definition of "specialty occupation" is: INA 214(i)(1)

For purposes of section 101(a)(15)(H)(i)(b), 101(a)(15)(E)(iii), and paragraph (2), the term "specialty occupation" means an occupation that requires

  • (A) theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge, and
  • (B) attainment of a bachelor's or higher degree in the specific specialty (or its equivalent) as a minimum for entry into the occupation in the United States.

Note that the statutory definition requires not only at least a bachelor's degree, but a bachelor's degree "in the specific specialty." The DHS regulatory definition of specialty occupation repeats this focus on a degree in a specific specialty:8 CFR 214.2(h)(4)(ii)

Specialty occupation means an occupation which requires theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge in fields of human endeavor including, but not limited to, architecture, engineering, mathematics, physical sciences, social sciences, medicine and health, education, business specialties, accounting, law, theology, and the arts, and which requires the attainment of a bachelor's degree or higher in a specific specialty, or its equivalent, as a minimum for entry into the occupation in the United States.

H-1B Specialty Workers

  • USCIS now seeks a near exact match between job offer title, duties, and candidate’s degree, only accepting alternative degrees ratified by the Department of Labor’s Occupational Outlook Handbook. For positions not yet recognized by the OOH, USCIS may accept official recognition of alternative degrees by authoritative experts in the field (e.g. professional organizations).
  • USCIS has been denying H-1B Petitions where the industry and employers accept a wide range of ostensibly “disparate” degrees as prerequisites for entry into the position – on the basis that a position cannot be considered a “specialty occupation” where the employer does not require a specific enough specialty.

 

Most H-1B petitions do not require this evaluation. However, on occasion ISSS may recommend a Specialty Occupation Evaluation for cases that we believe USCIS may be reluctant to approve. The primary purpose of a specialty occupation letter is to determine whether a particular position qualifies as a specialty occupation for an H-1B petition. Such letters provide a detailed explanation of the educational background necessary to perform a position’s specialized duties. Experts in the field analyze the nature of the company and its industry, the position in the context of the company, and the background required for the position as determined by the industry. Taking into consideration the job duties required of the candidate, a specialty occupation letter clearly demonstrates that the proffered position is a specialty occupation requiring expertise in a particular field. Depending on the specific requirements of a case, specialty occupation letters can also be crafted to explain why a candidate’s particular background is relevant to the position at hand.

Some companies that provide Specialty Occupation Evaluations:

By including firms on this list, ISSS is not endorsing or otherwise recommending one firm over another. Rather, individuals are advised to engage in as much research as possible before selecting a specific firm. In addition, ISSS does not guarantee an approval of the H-1B petition, even if your Department provides a Specialty Occupation Evaluation.

 

Specialty occupation

The statutory definition of "specialty occupation" is: INA 214(i)(1)

For purposes of section 101(a)(15)(H)(i)(b), 101(a)(15)(E)(iii), and paragraph (2), the term "specialty occupation" means an occupation that requires

  • (A) theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge
    - AND -
  • (B) attainment of a bachelor's or higher degree in the specific specialty (or its equivalent) as a minimum for entry into the occupation in the United States.

Note that the statutory definition requires not only at least a bachelor's degree, but a bachelor's degree "in the specific specialty." The DHS regulatory definition of specialty occupation repeats this focus on a degree in a specific specialty: 8 CFR 214.2(h)(4)(ii)

Specialty occupation means an occupation which requires theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge in fields of human endeavor including, but not limited to, architecture, engineering, mathematics, physical sciences, social sciences, medicine and health, education, business specialties, accounting, law, theology, and the arts, and which requires the attainment of a bachelor's degree or higher in a specific specialty, or its equivalent, as a minimum for entry into the occupation in the United States.

H-1B Specialty Workers

  • USCIS now seeks a near exact match between job offer title, duties, and candidate’s degree, only accepting alternative degrees ratified by the Department of Labor’s Occupational Outlook Handbook. For positions not yet recognized by the OOH, USCIS may accept official recognition of alternative degrees by authoritative experts in the field (e.g. professional organizations).
  • USCIS has been denying H-1B Petitions where the industry and employers accept a wide range of ostensibly “disparate” degrees as prerequisites for entry into the position – on the basis that a position cannot be considered a “specialty occupation” where the employer does not require a specific enough specialty.

 

 

If your employee will work at / rotate to more than two locations,  ISSS will need the following information for each work site:

  • Name of work site
  • Complete address of work site
  • Name and Email of the Contact for the work site
  • Federal EIN for the work site

Temple University (EIN 23-1365971)
Temple University Hospital (EIN 23-2825878)
Temple University Health System (EIN 23-2825881)

Please email the information in Word format to Sharon Loughran (copy scholars@temple.edu) and then upload it to the appropriate DestinyOne application.

 

 

You can check Case Processing Times on USCIS’ website.

 

start time

Initial H-1B Petition:

  • If Applicant is OUTSIDE the US, our office will mail the Original Approval Notice along with a copy of the H-1B petition to the applicant abroad. Applicant then must apply for H-1B visa stamp at US Embassy unless visa-exempt. Applicant may not enter the US more than 10 days prior to the start date listed on the Approval Notice.
  • If Applicant is INSIDE the US, the applicant cannot begin working until the start date listed on the H-1B Petition and our office has received the ORIGINAL Approval Notice.

Extension H-1B Petition:

  • Please note that after our office files an Extension H-1B Petition, the employee may work for 240 days beyond the expiration date on the current Approval Notice expiration date provided USCIS receives the H petition PRIOR to current expiration date.  

Amendment H-1B Petition:

  • The employee may not begin the new position until USCIS receives our petition. Contact HR/Payroll Management for more information once H petition is submitted.

Transfer H-1B Petition:

  • The employee may not begin working in the Temple University position until USCIS receives our petition. Contact HR/Payroll Management for more information once H petition is submitted.

Estimated Length of Time to Receive Receipt Notice Once H-1B Petition is Submitted to USCIS:  Usually 1-4 days if petition was submitted with Premium Processing; 1-3 Weeks if filed without Premium Processing.

Travel outside the US while an Extension, Amendment or Transfer Petition is Pending with USCIS will be complicated. Please contact ISSS for further information as Premium Processing may be necessary.

 

Visit USCIS for more information.

 

CP v COS

When Temple University files an I-129 petition, we may request either a change of status or consular processing. A change of status is appropriate for individuals who are currently in the United States. Consular processing is used for those who are overseas or those who will be traveling overseas while the application is pending. Travel outside the United States while a change of status is pending will abandon that change of status. All H-1B applicants must discuss any travel plans with the hiring department. ISSS will then work with the H-1B Applicant and the Hiring Department to determine whether a change of status or consular processing is best.

When USCIS approves the I-129 petition, the Service Center sends an I-797 approval notice to ISSS. If a change of status was requested, a new I-94 will be attached to the approval and will serve as evidence of employment eligibility. If consular processing was chosen, USCIS sends the original approval notice to ISSS and notifies the U.S. Consulate that ISSS indicated on the I-129 petition. The individual must then travel to the consulate to apply for an H-1B visa.

An individual who requests a change of status will be required to apply for an H-1B visa at a U.S. Consulate abroad if s/he departs the United States.  An H-1B employee may travel to Canada or Mexico for 30 days or less without a valid H-1B visa stamp, as long as s/he retains the Form I-94 and presents it for re-entry to the United States within a 30 day period. This is referred to as automatic visa revalidation. Citizens of countries designated as state sponsors of terrorism by the US Department of State (Iran, Sudan and Syria) are not eligible for automatic visa revalidation.

 

 

240-Day Rule Exception: Eligibility to Continue Employment While Extension is Still Pending

f a petitioner files a timely petition for an employee seeking continuation of the same employment in the same status with the same employer without change, the beneficiary may continue to work for their sponsoring employer for an additional 240 days beyond the expiration of their current stay, while the application for extension of stay is pending. For petition-based categories, "timely" means that USCIS receives the extension package (with proper fees):

  • Before the expiration of the current period of H-1B status (see 8 CFR 214.1(c)(4))
    -AND-
  • Before the expiration of the employer's H-1B petition

This 240-day rule applies only to the following nonimmigrant categories: A-3, CW-1, E-1, E-2, E-3, G-5, H-1B, H-1B1, H-2A, H-2B, H-3, I, J-1, L-1, O-1, O-2, P-1, P-2, P-3, R or TN.

These are all nonimmigrant categories where the alien is authorized for employment with a specific employer incident to status.

If USCIS does not adjudicate the extension petition within 240 days of the expiration of the prior petition validity period, the beneficiary must stop working until USCIS approves the petition.

 

Special H-1B Status Beyond Six Years

Under sections 104 and 106 of the American Competitiveness in the 21st Century Act (AC21), it is possible to obtain H-1B status beyond the six-year limit for the following individuals who have applied for US Legal Permanent Residence (Green Card):

  1. 365 days or more have passed since the filing of any application for labor certification (Form ETA 750 or 9089) that is required or used by the alien to obtain status as an EB immigrant; or
  2. 365 days or more have passed since the filing of an EB immigrant petition (I-140); or
  3. The alien is the beneficiary of an approved EB immigration petition and is not able to file to adjust status to U.S. permanent legal residence based on the unavailability of an immigrant visa number.

An application for extension of stay under the AC21provisions will, like a regular application for extension of stay, benefit from the "240-day rule".

 

End of Employment Issues

It is imperative that Hiring Departments contact ISSS AS SOON AS THEY KNOW that an H-1B position will end, either through voluntary or involuntary means.

Employment terminated by the Employee:

If an H-1B worker voluntarily terminates his or her employment, an employer is not liable for the cost of return transportation abroad [8 C.F.R. 214.2(h)(4)(iii)(E)]. The employee should depart the United States on the final day of employment with the sponsoring employer, unless he or she has secured H-1B sponsorship of another employer or otherwise changed immigration status. There is a discretionary 60 day grace period, but employee should be aware that this grace period is not automatic.

Employment terminated by the employer:

If the employer dismisses the H-1B worker prior to the end of the period of authorized employment, the employer must present a check to the employee equivalent to the reasonable costs of return transportation to the alien's last place of foreign residence. Dismissal for any reason, even for cause, triggers this provision. INA 214(c)(5)(A); 8 C.F.R. 214.2(h)(4)(iii)(E)

Steps To Be Taken Once Department notifies ISSS that an individual’s employment will be terminated:

  1. Department researches the average cost of return air fare to the employee's place of last residence (at least 3 quotes) and sends the information to ISSS
  2. ISSS will create a "Return Transportation" letter
  3. Department requests check from Accounts Payable using "Return Transportation" letter as documentation for AP
  4. ISSS withdraws the LCA and then sends a withdrawal request to USCIS via UPS
  5. Once ISSS has a check from AP, ISSS mails the Return Transportation letter with the check, a UPS label listing ISSS’s address and a UPS envelope to employee through UPS
  6. USCIS will send a Notice to ISSS approving our Withdrawal of the H-1B Petition Request
  7. ISSS will notify Department and HR a copy of withdrawal notice from USCIS