For an overview of the H-1B Scholar category, please visit the H-1B Scholar Immigration Regulations page.

students at International Fest


Basic Steps for requesting an H-1B Petition and obtaining H-1B status

Procedure for an H-1B petition is basically the same whether it is an initial petition for an extension, or whether the employee has H-1B status for another employer. Download the H-1 Instructions & Checklist for a detailed list of documents needed in various situations.

**All paperwork should be completed by the department and not by the employee.**

  1. Read the Basic Information Concerning H-1B Status. [link to PDF]
  2. Make preliminary determination of eligibility for H-1B status based on job title and employee’s qualifications.
  3. Complete H-1B request form (by hiring department, not employee), and have it signed by Department Head and Dean.
  4. Send H-1B request, along with other required documents,  in one package,  to the CIE.
  5. Hiring department completes the Actual Wage Certification form and sends it to the UT Knoxville Human Resources Office, along with a photocopy of the H-1B Request.
  6. Do not send a copy of the Actual Wage Certification to CIE.
  7. Be sure to read the actual wage certification overview and form instructions carefully before completing the Actual Wage Certification.
  8. Hiring department completes the Export Control Attestation form and sends it to the appropriate Export Control Officer, as listed on the form.
  9. Do not send a copy of this form to CIE.
  10. Request necessary checks from UT Knoxville Treasurer’s Office; checks will automatically be sent to CIE.
  11. When CIE receives the request package it will send a receipt to requesting the department listing any missing documents (if any).
  12. CIE will then begin processing of H-1B paperwork through the U.S. Department of Labor and USCIS.
  13. Before filing the Labor Condition Application, CIE will prepare an official written notice, as mandated by DOL law.
    • This notice must be posted in the UT Human Resources Office, in the Hiring Department, and at any other location where the employee will be working.
  14. When the Labor Condition Application has been certified by DOL, CIE prepares the H-1B petition and sends it to USCIS.
  15. When the petition has been approved, USCIS sends approval notice (I-797) to CIE which will notify the hiring department and the employee.
    • If the employee’s status has been changed to H-1B, or if it has been extended, UT employment will be authorized.
    • Departments and employees should not assume that H-1B employment is authorized until notified by CIE.
  16. If the employee already has H-1B status, employment is usually authorized after CIE receives the USCIS receipt (also I-797).
    • Again, CIE will notify department and employee in writing that employment is authorized.
    • If an extension has been requested, employment is authorized for 240 days while the application is pending.
  17. If the prospective employee is outside the U.S., CIE will send the H1-B petition to him/her so that he/she can apply for an H-1B visa and enter the U.S.

Department Responsibilities

Departure Notification

U.S. law requires The University to notify the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) of an early departure. To ensure that this information is relayed on time, we ask that the host department notify CIE of the departure of every H-1B scholar, even if it is not early. For this purpose, the host-department should use the Departure Notification form. CIE will then notify DHS, as required. Failure to send this notification is a violation of law and may subject the University to penalties and/or fines. After the H-1B record is ended, the employee may not be employed at UT without other work authorization.

The host-department must notify CIE if the employee is taken off Payroll or will not be paid for any period. (If employee has been approved for FMLA leave, call CIE to discuss). NOTE:  U.S. law may require the employee to be paid until DHS is notified of the departure, even if the employee is no longer working. For this reason, this notification should be submitted to CIE before the actual departure date, if possible.

Prospective Employers

For all employees of The University of Tennessee-Knoxville, H-1B paperwork must be done by the Center for International Education, at the request of the hiring department. To download the H-1B Request Form and other H-1B forms please visit the Forms section of our website. However, you must contact Wendy Syer in CIE prior to completing and submitting any forms related to H-1B processing.

Before requesting an H-1B petition, it is essential that the department head of the hiring department have a clear understanding of the H-1B status and the related liabilities of the department and university. For an overview of regulations and procedures related to the H-1B status please download the handout Basic Information Concerning H-1B.

Actual regulations can also be viewed as listed below. H-1B employment is governed by regulations of both the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) and the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) or US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

DOL regulations can be found on their website and as follows:

  • 20 CFR* Parts 655 and 656 29CFR Part 507.
  • Commentary on these regulations published in the Federal Register, December 20, 2000, pages 80110-89254

DHS/USCIS regulations can be found on their website and as follows:

  • 8CFR* Part 214.2(h)
  • Commentary published in the Federal Register, December 2, 1991, pages 61111-61137;

*CFR = Code of Federal Regulations

Estimation of Processing Times

We provide the table below to give a general idea of how much time should be allowed to process an H-1B application in order for an employee to begin working, or to avoid losing work authorization. Please note that these time estimates are calculated from the day that all materials are received by CIE. Incomplete application packages will result in longer processing times. Inconsistent processing times in U.S. Government Agencies or unexpected problems arising during the process will also lengthen the time needed. For this reason, we always recommend that the host department begin the H-1B process as soon as possible.

If you have concerns about the time needed to process an application, please contact Wendy Syer.

All required materials should be received by CIE no later than…

If employee is… With Standard Processing With $1225 Premium Processing Fee Comments
Outside the U.S. 9 months before the employee will begin work 5 months before the employee will begin work Total time will depend on the time needed to obtain a visa at the U.S. Consulate, which varies according to Consulate and country of employee’s citizenship.
In the U.S. in a different immigration status (such as J-1 or F-1 with Practical Training) 8 months before the employee will begin work or before the current work permission ends 3 months before the employee will begin work or before the current work permission ends If employee plans to travel outside the U.S. before getting final approval of the H-1 petition, more time may be needed. Contact CIE immediately to discuss.
In the U.S. in H-1B status and currently employed by another employer 4 months before the date employee will begin work at UT or 3 months before leaving previous employment whichever is earlier Not usually necessary or recommended If employee plans to travel outside the U.S. before getting final approval of the H-1 petition, more time may be needed. Contact CIE immediately to discuss. Employee must remain employed by other employer until paperwork is mailed to USCIS.
Already employed at UT in H-1B status 4 months before the end of the current H-1B approval or I-94 Not usually necessary or recommended If employee plans to travel outside the U.S. before getting final approval of the H­1 petition, more time may be needed. Contact CIE immediately to discuss.

H-1B Application Fees

***For the most up-to-date rates please visit the USCIS website. ***

I-129 Petition Fee
This is the basic fee required for any H-1B petition.

Anti-Fraud Fee (Part of I-129 Petition)
This fee, required in addition to the Petition Fee, is intended to fund several U.S. Government offices which investigate cases of suspected H-1B fraud. It is required for the first H-1B petition UT files for any given employee.

I-907 Premium Processing Fee
This optional fee will reduce the amount of time needed for the USCIS processing of the petition.   It does not affect the time required for CIE or DOL processing.

I-539 Dependent Processing Fee
If the H-1B employee has eligible dependent(s) who wish to obtain or extend H-4 status they should complete and sign a Form I-539 and attach a for the appropriate amount.   This fee may not be paid by UT funds.

NOTE: Each fee must be paid with a separate check. Please do not combine fees into one check.