Sponsoring or Extending H-1B

The H-1B position needs to qualify as a “specialty occupation” that requires a “theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge, and attainment of a bachelor's or higher degree, or its equivalent, as a minimum requirement” at a wage that meets the higher of the prevailing wage or the actual wage, and the applicant must hold the required degree in the field of employment. This means both the position and the employee must meet H-1B eligibility criteria.

Process Example
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USCIS Resumes Premium Processing in Phases

 

  • June 8, 2020 for H-1B cap-exempt* petitions that were filed before June 8 that are pending adjudication
  • June 15, 2020 for cap-exempt* petitions requesting premium processing at the time of filing 

We advise departments to continue to order the check for Premium Processing and include it in the materials sent to us. Please follow the Finance contingency plan for pick up checks. 

*Cap-exempt applies to University employees

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H-1B Requirements

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Before You Sponsor / Petition Overview

Administrative positions do not qualify unless it can be demonstrated that it is critical to the functions of the department or the university. It must qualify as a "specialty occupation" with the candidate holding the specialized degree the position requires.

Part-time academic appointments do not qualify as per University Policy.

H-1B status is generally limited to six years, with each petition not greater than for 3 years. Typically, the initial petition is for 3 years, with an extension for another 3 years.

Contact us at least six months in advance of the 6-year mark to discuss eligibility for an additional extension or alternative options for visa status.

Initiate H-1B sponsorship 6 months in advance to ensure timely filing and adjudication of the petition, allow time for the applicant's visa application (if needed), and facilitate international travel.  An H-1B petition involves processing time by two government agencies, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

You may expedite the final step of the petition with an additional Premium Processing fee, which guarantees USCIS action on the petition within 15 calendar days from the date they receive the petition. 

J-1 visa status may be preferable to H-1B for many non tenure-track positions, because it:

Learn more about J-1.

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How to Sponsor / Extend

Steps to Sponsor or Extend H-1B
Step 1

Gather these documents

Open one of the links below for information specific to your campus.

To learn how to begin the process, watch our short video Sponsoring an H-1B Visa at Columbia.

We need these documents to verify that the position is appropriate for H-1B status and for the Department of Labor (DOL) component of the H-1B petition.

We need this information and documentation to verify that the position is appropriate for H-1B status and for the Department of Labor (DOL) component of the H-1B petition. You will be prompted to provide information about the position when you log in to Compass and respond to the questions. 

Step2

Submit your application

Open one of the links below for instructions specific to your campus.

Log in to the Scholar Sponsorship Portal (SSP) with your UNI and password to initiate an online application for H-1B sponsorship.

This must be initiated by the department, not the employee. Contact us if you are a department administrator requesting access to the SSP. 

Refer to our SSP Department Guide for detailed instructions including an SSP overview.

Log in to Compass to submit this part of the application. Refer to our CUIMC Department User Guide for detailed instructions. Please complete the Request Access to Compass form if needed. 

This application consists of four (4) parts:

Step 3

We will contact you

After reviewing the information you submitted, we will confirm that you may proceed with the H1B petition.

Step 4

Gather documents and checks for USCIS fees

Open one of the links below for information specific to your campus.

Both the department and the H-1B applicant provide documentation

The department is responsible for the documents and checks listed in items 1 - 5 on the table below, and for collecting

  • items 6 - 12 from each prospective employee
  • items 13 - 20, depending on the employee's current status

A complete set of application materials is comprised of both sets of documentation.

The online application for an H-1B petition has several components. Supporting documentation and information is supplied by the department and the prospective H-1B employee. When you log back in via the Compass portal to the employee's record after they complete their part, you will be prompted with instructions. In Step 5 you will compile hard copies of all application materials to hand-deliver to ISSO-CUIMC.

Step 5

As we are working remotely, please contact ISSO for instructions: ISSO Morningside / ISSO-CUIMC.

Hand-deliver the complete application to the ISSO and wait for USCIS approval.

Open one of the links below for location and hours specific to your campus.

 

Remember to include the checklist on top.  Our office is located in the Nash Building at 3280 Broadway (between 132-133rd St.) in Suite 510 on the 5th floor. Document drop-off hours are 9am - 5pm weekdays. Check our Contact Us page for any scheduled office closings.

Wait for Approval Notice
We will file the H-1B petition with USCIS and will inform you when the approval notice is ready to be picked up by your department. The envelope will also contain copies of petition documents for your employee.

Our office is located at 650 W. 168th St., 1st fl., Room 130. Walk-in hours are Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday from 11:00am - 4:30pm. Check our Contact Us page for any scheduled office closings.

Wait for Approval Notice
We will file the H-1B petition with USCIS and will inform the employee and copy you when the approval notice is ready to be picked up.

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During sponsorship, keep the following in mind

​​​​​​Failure to notify us may result in fines and penalties imposed on the University and the revocation of the petition/visa approval.

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Extending an H-1B

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Before You Extend

H-1B status is generally limited to six years, with each petition not greater than for 3 years. Typically, the initial petition is for 3 years, with an extension for another 3 years.

Contact us at least six months in advance of the 6-year mark to discuss eligibility for an additional extension or alternative options for visa status.

The earliest we may file an extension is six months in advance of the expiration of the current approved period, and we strongly recommend you prepare the application materials as early as possible. An H-1B petition involves processing time by two government agencies, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). 

Initiating the extension 6 months before the expiration of the current status ensures timely filing and adjudication of the petition, time for the applicant's visa application (if needed), facilitates international travel, and averts a lot of unnecessary anxiety for both the department and the individual.

You may expedite the final step of the petition with an additional Premium Processing fee which guarantees action on a petition within 15 calendar days from the date USCIS receives the petition. 

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How to Extend

Departments should follow the same steps above except:

  • Include a copy of the applicant's 3 most recent paychecks
     
  • Do not include the $500 Fraud Prevention and Detection Fee for an extension of an employee who is currently under Columbia's H-1B sponsorship.
     
  • Do include the $500 fee if it is the first H-1B petition with Columbia University as the employer. If your applicant is already in H-1B status with another employer but is now going to be sponsored by your department, the petition does require the Fraud Prevention and Detection Fee because it is Columbia's  first petition on their behalf.

Open the link to your campus below for further information.

Log in to the Scholar Sponsorship Portal (SSP) with your UNI and password to initiate an online application for H-1B sponsorship

This must be initiated by the department, not the scholar. Contact us if you are a department administrator requesting access to the SSP.

Refer to our SSP Department Guide for detailed instructions including an SSP overview.

PLEASE NOTE: H-1B employee profiles can only be seen by the Departmental User who created it.

If you are the Departmental User who created the initial profile for the employee you are now extending, you have two choices: 

  1. You can click on Departmental Services Overview and select the employee in the Current Cases/Past Cases list or,
  2. You can click on H-1B Employee Extension and search for the employee in the Lookup International Record by inputting their University ID and DOB.

Once you are in the employee's record, you will be prompted with additional steps for completing an Extension Request, similar to the original H-1B petition request.

If you are not the Departmental User who created the initial profile for the employee you are now extending or if the profile was created by the ISSO-CUIMC based on a paper application previously submitted, you will need to request the University ID from ISSO-CUIMC via email at cumc-intl-employees@columbia.edu.

TIP: The University ID is not the UNI, it is an ID generated by Compass.

Refer to the CUIMC Department User Guide for the procedure.

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