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Hiring Foreign Nationals - H-1B Visa

Hiring a foreign national employee differs significantly from hiring a U.S. citizen, and may require the hiring unit to obtain employment authorization before the individual can work in the U.S. In some instances, the foreign national may already have employment authorization that can be used for a position at Northern Kentucky University, such as OPT (for foreign students who recently graduated) or a green card. Many others, however, will need to be sponsored for a given immigration status in order to start a position at NKU.

The process of obtaining employment authorization takes time and may involve many different organizations:

  • Hiring unit
  • International Student & Scholar Services
  • Human Resources
  • Dinsmore & Shohl LLP
  • U.S. Department of Labor
  • U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
  • U.S. Customs and Border Protection
  • U.S. Department of State

Depending on the immigration status being sought, hiring departments may need to start the request process seven or eight months in advance. Green card applications may take many years, depending on someone’s national origin.

The rules and regulations pertaining to immigration in general and obtaining employment authorization in particular are very strict. Especially if there is a reasonable chance that a foreign national may be selected for a given position and to avoid unnecessary complications and delays, the processes described on the ISSS website should be followed closely. This section will cover H-1B information, the most common type of employment-based visa sought at NKU.

H-1B General Overview

The H-1B status grants temporary nonimmigrant work authorization and is based on a petition, submitted by the employer (NKU), to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS).

The basic requirements for H-1B status are that the position qualifies as a “specialty position” requiring a specific educational background and that the wages and working conditions comply with Kentucky employment regulations and the U.S. Department of Labor foreign labor certification. NKU will seek H-1B status for employees in tenure-track positions, research positions with funding for the period of intended employment, and staff and other positions (such as instructor and lecturer) that meet the “specialty” requirements.

H-1B status allows the employee to work for a specific U.S. employer for a specific period of time and in a specific location. Multiple employers are allowed as long as each employer submits a separate H-1B petition for USCIS approval.

At Northern Kentucky University, H-1B petitions are prepared by Dinsmore & Shohl LLP on behalf of departments interested in hiring an international applicant or continuing the employment of an individual who needs to change from a current or expiring work eligible status to this work eligible status. Because there are several types of work authorizations available to international employees, International Student and Scholar Services will assist employers in deciding which is best for the department’s and the individual’s situation.

The maximum initial period of authorization is three years. A three year extension is possible for a total of six years in H-1B status.