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H-1B Sponsorship

H-1B or Temporary Worker nonimmigrant status may be granted to a non-US resident who has been offered a professional-level position in the United States. In order for a person to obtain H-1B status, the prospective employer must file a petition with the US Department of Homeland Security/US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

The H-1B temporary worker immigration status is designated for individuals coming temporarily to the United States to work in a specialty occupation, which is one that requires 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.”

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. The Center for Global Engagement files H-1B petitions upon request by the hiring department and works together with the designated department representative to gather information and documents needed for this complex process.

After receiving a formal request and attached documents from the hiring department, the Center for Global Engagement files all official H-1B petitions for the university with the US Department of Labor and USCIS. It is very important for the department head to understand the laws and regulations related to an H-1B status before submitting an H-1B request to the Center for Global Engagement.


H-1B Costs

Costs (paid to US Government, not ISSS):

  • $460 filing fee – required on all applications.
  • $500 anti-fraud fee – required on the first application but not on extensions.
  • $2,805 premium processing – almost always necessary, but not strictly required; speeds up USCIS processing but not ISSS’s processing.

Costs (paid to ISSS)

  • $500 Late Penalty – this is only charged if an H-1B Request Packet is submitted with a start date that is less than 8 weeks from the date ISSS receives the packet. Note, this does not guarantee processing in less than 8 weeks.
  • $1,000 non-academic unit fee – ISSS has expanded services to include all UTK affiliated units. This fee is charged if the unit requesting sponsorship is not an academic unit reporting to the provost.


Requesting H-1B Status

H-1B Process Overview Flowchart

The H-1B immigration process is a multistep process that requires input from the hiring department and the international employee as well as several UT offices, such as HR, Export Control, and the Treasurer’s Office. The petition process involves several federal agencies, including the Department of Labor, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, and sometimes the Department of State. International Student and Scholar Services manages the process and files all official government paperwork related to H1-B petitions for UT Knoxville employees.

Before the H-1B process can begin, the hiring department must submit an official request to ISSS. We ask that the completed request packet be submitted as soon as possible, as we require at least three to four months to process the request and prepare the petition.

If a prospective employee already has H-1B status for employment with another employer, UT must file a new petition with USCIS before UT employment can begin. The H-1B request procedure for the hiring department is exactly the same as it is for a person without H-1B status. However, in most cases, the employee may begin working at UT as soon as we receive the receipt from USCIS. ISSS will notify the hiring department and the employee when UT employment is permitted.


Required Wage

An H-1B employee must be paid the required wage, which is determined by International Student and Scholar Services within the Center for Global Engagement in accordance with US Department of Labor (DOL) regulations. The required wage is equal to the prevailing wage or the actual wage, whichever is higher.

The prevailing wage is the average wages of persons similarly employed in the same geographic areas, as determined by the DOL.

The actual wage is the wage rate paid by the employer to all individuals with experience and qualifications similar to the H-1B employee’s experience and qualifications for the specific position.

If the offered wage does not meet the higher of the actual or prevailing wage, the offered wage must be increased to meet or exceed the higher wage in order for ISSS to continue with the H-1B process.


Export Control

The US government wishes to control the transfer of sensitive technology to nationals of certain countries. For this reason, it maintains a list of certain technologies considered to be sensitive. If a non-US employee will work with any of these technologies, the employer must obtain an Export Control License. USCIS requires every H-1B petitioner to sign a statement that it has checked the lists of export-controlled technologies before filing the petition.

In order to ensure compliance with this attestation, the department head and supervisor must complete and sign an Export Control Attestation Form, listing all accounts to be used to pay the H-1B employee and certifying whether or not the employee will be exposed to controlled technology. The Attestation Form must be sent to the appropriate export control officer for additional verification. The export control officer will forward the certified form to International Student and Scholar Services.


Work Locations

We must notify the U.S. Department of Labor and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security if the employee will be working on more than one location. This includes any work located at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, even when UT is the employer. If the time spent at another location will be a TOTAL of 30 days or less, and if all travel expenses will be reimbursed by UT, this travel does not need to be included in the application. But if the employee will accumulate more than 30 days of work at another location, that location does need to be specifically listed in the petition. Note, ISSS will need to obtain a prevailing wage determination for each listed additional location.



Spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21 of H-1B visa holders are considered dependents and are eligible for H-4 status. H-4 visa holders are eligible to stay in the United States only while their spouses or parents are in the United States maintaining legal H-1B visa status.

Persons in H-4 status are not permitted to work in the United States. They may apply to change their immigration status to H-1B if they qualify for the specialty occupation requirement and find an employer who is willing to file a petition on their behalf. Although a person in H-4 status cannot obtain a Social Security number, he or she may apply for an individual taxpayer identification number instead of a Social Security number. This will be needed, for example, if the H-1B employee will claim a tax exemption for the H-4 dependent.

H-4 visa holders may study in the United States, full-time or part-time, for the duration of the H-1B’s period of stay. As employment is not permitted, they are not able to hold graduate assistantship positions.