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Employment-Based Visa Sponsorship

International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) supports hiring units by providing employment-based immigration sponsorship. There are a variety of options available. Please contact ISSS if you would like to discuss what path best meets your needs.


H-1 B Sponsorship

H-1B is the most common visa or immigration status used for a non-US employee to obtain authorization to work at UT. In order for a prospective employee to obtain H-1B status, the employer must file paperwork with the US Department of Labor and a petition with USCIS. ISSS files H-1B petitions upon request by the hiring unit and works together with the designated department representative to gather information and documents needed for this complex process.

Primary Purpose Employment.
Duration 6 year maximum completed in three year increments.
Position Restrictions Position must be a specialty occupation requiring at least a bachelor’s degree in a specific field of study.
Cost to Academic Department $460 filing fee; $500 anti-fraud fee for initial petitions; $2,805 premium processing fee if needed. $500 late penalty fee if requested start date is less than 8 weeks from submission of complete H-1B Request Packet. $1,000 fee for non-academic units.
Processing Time Estimated 4 months with premium processing; 9 months or more without; 1-2 additional months if visa is needed.
Funding Source Must be on UT payroll.
Dependents H-4, generally ineligible to work with very limited exceptions.

Guides on H-1B Status


O-1 Sponsorship

The O-1 nonimmigrant category is for an individual who has “extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics,” who plans to work in the US in the area of their extraordinary ability and whose achievements in their field have been recognized through extensive documentation. Extraordinary ability is a high level of expertise and indicates that the person is one of a small percentage who has risen to the very top of the field. All O-1 petitions, including extensions, are handled by retained immigration counsel.

Primary Purpose Employment.
Duration Initial maximum of 3 years, extension up to 1 year at a time with no overall maximum duration.
Position Restrictions Typically only used when no other options are available. Filed by immigration attorney after approval from ISSS
Cost to Academic Department $460 filing fee; Estimated $7,000 in attorney fees.
Processing Time Estimated 8 months; 1-2 additional months if visa is needed.
Funding Source Must be on UT payroll.
Dependents O-3, ineligible to work.


TN Professionals

TN immigration status allows Canadian and Mexican citizens to enter the US to engage in certain professional activities on a temporary basis. The allowed professional activities are listed in Appendix 1603.D.1 of the NAFTA Treaty. Individuals in TN status must have the intent to depart the US after the activity ends.

Primary Purpose Employment
Duration Initial maximum of 3 years, extensions up to 3 years at a time, no overall maximum duration.
Position Restrictions Limited to Mexican and Canadian citizens. Cannot be used for tenure-track or other permanent positions. Position must be on the USMCA list
Cost to Academic Department No cost to department.
Processing Time U.S. Embassy visa processing varies for Mexican citizens. Canadian citizens request TN status at border crossing
Funding Source Must be on UT payroll.
Dependents TD, ineligible to work.

Guides on TN Status


Permanent Residency

Permanent Residency (often referred to as a Green Card) establishes a migrant status for non-citizen persons in the U.S. The Employment-Based (EB) preference is the common route that higher-education institutions use to support recruitment of non-citizen faculty, researchers, and staff. The process to obtain Permanent Residency typically involves a significant commitment of time and financial resources from the sponsored individual and department. The University of Tennessee engages outside counsel for all sponsored Permanent Residency cases. University of Tennessee units may NOT hire external counsel outside of the counsel contracted by the University of Tennessee for these cases.

Guides on Permanent Residency