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 scholar must meet H-1B eligibility criteria.

Process Example
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H-1B Requirements

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Before You Sponsor / Petition Overview

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.

It is critical to 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 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 processing to a turn-around of 15 calendar days from the date USCIS receives it. This is called Premium Processing and has an additional USCIS fee of $1225.

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

Learn more about J-1.

An administrative position may be considered for H-1B sponsorship only if 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.

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How to Sponsor / Extend

Medical campus departments need to contact ISSO-CUMC.

Steps to Sponsor or Extend H-1B
Step 1

Gather your documents

We need these documents for the Department of Labor (DOL) component of the H-1B petition.

Step 2

Login 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.

Step 3

We will contact you

We will contact you within 3 business days to confirm whether the position meets Department of Labor eligibility.

Step 4

Gather the following list of documents, and checks for USCIS fees

You will collect the first list of items from your prospective H-1B scholar. The department provides the rest. Submit thee as a complete set to the ISSO following the guidance below.

Documentation required for the H-1B petition

Step 5

Hand-deliver the complete application materials with checklist to us

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 - 5-m weekdays. Check our Contact Us page for any scheduled office closings.

Step 6

Wait for the 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.

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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 processing to a turn-around of 15 calendar days from the date USCIS receives it. This is called Premium Processing and has an additional USCIS fee of $1225.

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How to Extend

CUMC departments need to contact ISSO-CUMC.

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 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.