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Maintaining H-1B Status

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This information is directed to Southern Connecticut State University (SCSU) employees who hold the H-1B visa classification. If you are the recipient of this visa, you have been granted permission by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to be employed by SCSU for a specific period of time, in a specific position.

1. Grace Periods
Effective January 17, 2017, the H-1B has a grace period of ten (10) days before H-1B status begins and ten (10) days after H-1B status ends. This means that the beneficiary, you, may be admitted into the U.S. up to 10 days before the H-1B validity period begins and remain in the U.S. up to 10 days after the validity period ends. However, the beneficiary in H-1B status is authorized to work only during the H-1B validity period.

The H-1B also has a grace period of up to sixty (60) consecutive days or until the end of the validity period listed on the I-797 approval notice, whichever is shorter. This grace period is for faculty in H-1B status whose employment ends (due to termination, resignation, etc.) before the validity period expires. 

2. H-1B Status Granted through Change of Status from within the U.S.
If you were granted a change of status to H-1B, you were issued Form I-797 by USCIS. Please be aware that the Form I-797 is not a visa, although it does permit you to work for SCSU for the time period specified on the form. A visa is purely an entry document issued at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate outside of the U.S. which covers a page in your passport.

The next time you travel outside of the U.S., you need to apply for a visa in order to return in H-1B status. To apply for a visa, you will need to take the original Form I-797 (which the OIE can lend to you) along with any other documents required by the U.S. Embassy or Consulate outside of the U.S. where you will apply for the visa. We recommend that you visit the appropriate Embassy's or Consulate's website for their requirements.

Once you have obtained a new visa in your passport, you may apply for admission to the U.S. at a port of entry. An Immigration Officer will examine your documents and stamp your Form I-94. The period of validity on your Form I-94 should normally coincide with the dates on the Form I-797, although it is a good idea to ask the immigration officer to grant you a ten-day grace period on your Form I-94. (This will not allow you to work ten extra days, but it will allow you to remain in the U.S. ten days beyond the end of the employment period.) This form is very important as it signifies proof of your H-1B visa status, legal entry into the U.S., and authorization to be employed by Southern Connecticut State University.

3. Approval of H-1B Petition while Outside of the U.S.
If you were outside of the U.S. while an H-1B visa petition was filed on your behalf, you must wait until SCSU obtains Form I-797: Notice of Approval before you are eligible to apply for a visa with which to enter the U.S. and begin your employment. Once USCIS has notified SCSU that it has approved our petition, we will send the original Form I-797, along with a copy of the petition, to your address outside of the U.S. You must take this document to apply for your visa and supporting documents to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate, which serves closest to your place of residence. Be sure to review the U.S. Department of State's list of Embassies and Consulates with online information about application procedures and requirements.

4. Special Information for Canadian Citizens
Citizens of Canada are not required to obtain a visa to enter the U.S. This is true not only for tourist visas, but also for other nonimmigrant status visas which permit employment, such as the H-1B. However, the H-1B employment requires a petition to USCIS. If you are in the U.S. in another nonimmigrant visa category, we will ask for a change of status to H-1B. We will notify you when we receive the approval notice from USCIS.

If you are in Canada, we will forward the approval notice to you. Because you do not need a visa, you will simply present Form I-797 to the Immigration Officer at the port of entry (if driving) or to pre-flight inspection at the airport.

5. Employment Limitations and Amendments
It is important to understand that you are only authorized to work for SCSU. The H-1B status is employer- and position-specific. If you discontinue your employment with SCSU at any time prior to the end of the approved validity date, you may be considered out-of-status and may be required to depart the U.S. (without a grace period). If you accept a position with another employer, you may be required to begin work at that institution as long as your new employer files another H-1B petition on your behalf in order for you to be employed by them. You should inquire with the OIE and your new employer concerning details. If you discontinue employment with SCSU or accept a position with another employer, please notify the OIE's Immigration Specialist, immediately. The OIE will then officially withdraw your H-1B with SCSU.

If you are offered the opportunity to change positions within SCSU, you must contact the OIE's Immigration Specialist before you assume your new position. Depending upon the circumstances of the change, we may be required to submit a new and amended petition to the USCIS which will allow you to hold a different position.

Again, the H-1B is employer, location, and position-specific. Any changes to your employment agreement require an amendment to the original petition. Such changes can include but are not limited to:
 Additional responsibilities
 Change in department/area of work/area of research
 Change in location (regional campuses, off-campus placements)
 Change in hours (full-time vs. part-time, reduced or increased hours)
 Change in job title

6. Extensions of Stay
If you are offered an opportunity to extend your employment at SCSU, we must file a request for extension with USCIS. To remain in valid status, this extension request must be received by USCIS on or before the date your current stay will expire, though it is preferable to file it as soon as possible. H-1B extension petitions can be filed as early as six months before the expiration of current status. Requests for extensions of stay must be made by your department on your behalf. It may take several months for USCIS to process an extension.

7. Change of Address Notification
You must report a change of address to USCIS within 10 days of moving. To do this, you may contact the OIE's Immigration Specialist for assistance or complete the change of address through the USCIS website.

8. Payment of U.S. Taxes
International employees holding H-1B visa status are considered to be residents of the U.S. for tax purposes, and as such are subject to Social Security (FICA) taxes as well as federal income tax. If you have been working at SCSU in another nonimmigrant visa category, you will probably need to complete a new Form I-9, potentially, a new W-4, and make a revision to show Form I-9 to indicate the change in your non-immigrant visa and tax status. You may obtain these forms from your department, Business Service Center, or Human Resources, and return them to Human Resources. Please attach a copy of your I-797 Notice of Approval. Individuals in H-1B status are entitled to file their income taxes as permanent residents for tax purposes once they have met the IRS definition for "substantial presence." See IRS publication 519 for an explanation of substantial presence.

9. Travel while in H-1B Status
If you intend to travel while in H-1B status, please bring the following documents:

  • Passport valid for six months beyond the duration of your H-1B status (end-date listed on the I-797 approval notice)
  • Original I-797 approval notice (you will already have the original I-94 stub; the OIE can lend you the original I-797)
  • Most recent SCSU pay stubs (last 3 months)
  • Copy of your Form I-129 (H-1B petition the OIE will provide you with this before you leave)
  • Curriculum Vitae (CV)
  • Please also contact the specific embassy/consulate to inquire about any additional documents required

10. Maximum Presence in the U.S.
The maximum allowable time for any individual to remain in the U.S. in H-1B status is six years. Immigration regulations permit an employer to ask for a maximum of an initial three years (some departments request less time, especially if funding is uncertain), with extensions of up to an additional three years possible. At the end of the six year period, the holder of an H-1B visa must do one of the following:

  • Depart the U.S for a period of no less than one year before he/she is eligible for a new H-1B status or visa;
  • Change to a different nonimmigrant visa category (if eligible);
  • Obtain Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) status in the U.S.

11. Responsibility for Compliance with Immigration Regulations
Remaining in the U.S. beyond the designated period granted by the USCIS could subject you to a bar from re-entering the U.S. for a period of up to ten years. It is your responsibility to comply with all Federal immigration regulations which govern your specific nonimmigrant visa classification.Please do not jeopardize your legal right to remain in the U.S. by accepting unauthorized employment, failing to apply for an extension of stay as necessary, or violating your immigration status in some other manner.

The OIE's Immigration Specialist, Jazmin Sharif, is available to answer any questions you might have related to your H-1B immigration status and responsibilities. Please do not hesitate to contact her via phone: 203-392-6947 or email: sharifj1@southernct.edu if you need assistance.

Please note that the information on this webpage should not be construed as legal opinion or legal advice.