H-1B Employees

What is an H-1B?

H-1B status permits a U.S. employer to employ a non-U.S. citizen in a specialty occupation. Specialty occupation is defined as requiring the theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge in a field of study.

To qualify for H-1B sponsorship, a position must require at least a bachelor's degree in specific field(s) of study. H-1B petitions are filed by the employer. As such, an individual in the United States in H-1B status is only authorized to work for their sponsoring employer

How to request H-1B sponsorship

To request H-1B sponsorship, please contact the department administrator from your employing department for information about how to request H-1B sponsorship from UMB. The OIS only accepts H-1B requests from the employing department.

Length of stay

H-1B status is given in three-year increments for a total of six years.

H-1B workers are authorized to stay in the United States and work for their petitioning employer (i.e., UMB) until the expiration date of their I-94, provided they are maintaining their H-1B status. In most cases, the expiration of the H-1B status will correspond with the expiration of the H-1B petition that the university filed.

At times, an immigration officer at the port of entry may give an H-1B worker an extra 10 days beyond the expiration of the H-1B petition when readmitting them from a trip abroad. This is solely at the discretion of the officer and is NOT a grace period that is authorized by regulation for all H-1B workers.

An immigration officer also may readmit an H-1B worker for less time than their H-1B petition is valid for, due to the expiration date of the passport. It is essential for you to be conscious of how long you are admitted for when you re-enter from a trip abroad. If this occurs, it is imperative that you come to the OIS to provide this information and receive advice. An H-1B worker is authorized to remain in the United States and work until the expiration of their I-94 or H-1B petition,whichever is earliest. Failure to extend your status by the expiration date can have very serious consequences for H-1B workers.

240-Day Rule
... for H-1B portability
Since the H-1B is the employer’s application, H-1B status is employer-specific. If you are currently in the United States in H-1B status with another employer, UMB must file an H-1B petition on your behalf. Once the OIS has filed an H-1B petition with USCIS and has received a receipt notice documenting timely filing of the H-1B petition, you can begin work at UMB for 240 days from the requested start date of the H-1B petition. This provision is called H-1B portability, and is useful because the University does not need an approval from USCIS to legally employ you. As such, premium processing is not necessary for most H-1B concurrent and transfer petitions. H-1B portability only applies if you continue working for your current employer until UMB has had the opportunity to file an H-1B petition with USCIS.

... for H-1B extensions
If you are a UMB H-1B employee who is extending your H-1B status, UMB can continue to employ you for 240 days past the expiration of the prior petition as long as UMB files the extension with USCIS before the expiration date. As such, premium processing is not necessary for timely filed H-1B extensions unless international travel is planned.

Change of U.S. address

All non-U.S. citizens are required to report any changes in their residential address to the Department of Homeland Security within 10 days of the change. H-1B workers can report their address change by using Form AR-11.


Learn more about how to update your address with the University, Central Payroll Bureau, and benefits providers here.

Traveling outside the United States for H-1B employees

Re-entering the United States
To re-enter the United States, you need the following documents:

  • A valid passport
  • A valid H-1B visa (See Visa Exceptions below)
  • The original lower portion of the I-797 approval notice and a copy of the upper portion.
  • A copy of the entire H-1B petition that UMB filed. If you have not received a copy, please ask for one from the OIS.
  • Evidence that you continue to be employed according to the terms and conditions of your H-1B petition (i.e., three most recent paycheck stubs, a letter from your employing department).

Applying for/Renewing your H-1B visa
H-1B petition approval (i.e., the application filed with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services) is not a visa, nor can it be used in place of a visa. If you or your dependents will travel outside the United States., you will need a valid H-1B/H-4 visa to reenter the United States (see visa exceptions below). Visa applications must be submitted in person at a U.S. embassy or consulate abroad. Applicants are normally required to submit the following documents:

  • A valid passport
  • Recent passport-style photos
  • Copy of the H-1B petition filed with USCIS
  • Original lower portion and copy of the upper portion of the I-797 H-1B approval notice
  • Evidence of your continued employment (paycheck stubs, letter from your employing department)
  • Any additional paperwork — please consult the website of the U.S. embassy or consulate where you will apply for the visa at www.usembassy.gov.

Visa Exceptions
Citizens of Canada and Bermuda are exempt from visa requirements. See Automatic Revalidation for information on traveling with an expired visa. 

Traveling to a Country Other than your Country of Citizenship
Before traveling to another country of which you are not a citizen, check the United States re-entry requirements as well as that country's travel requirements. A list of U.S embassies and consulates can be found here. Foreign embassies and consulates in the United States can be found here.  

Canada
Please note that you can re-enter the United States from Canada with an expired U.S. visa stamp if you meet the criteria. Check the Canadian visa requirements here. If you need a Canadian visa, you can download the application from the Canadian consulate website.

H-4 dependents

Only the spouse and minor children (under age 21) who accompany the H-1B visa holder to the United States may receive H-4 dependent status. Their eligibility to stay legally in the United States, as well as to extend their stay, is contingent upon the H-1B visa holder maintaining their legal status and extending their program in a timely manner. All other family members must apply for a B-1 or B-2 visitor’s visa to gain entry to the United States.

H-4 and Employment
Holders of H-4 visas are NOT permitted to work.

H-4 and School
There are currently no restrictions on study for H-4 dependents. They may study full time or part time.

How to Obtain H-4 Status for your Dependent
Please note: UMB does not provide legal representation for the H-1B employee's family members. H-1B employees are responsible for monitoring the status of their H-4 dependents. The OIS provides the following information only to assist the employee's family in gathering the required documents for USCIS.

  • Inside the United States
    If the dependent is in the United States and is filing for a change to or to extend their H-4 status, Form I-539, Application to Extend-Change Non-Immigrant Status, must be filed with the USCIS along with the $290 fee. This form is a separate petition from the worker’s petition but normally is filed along with the I-129 at the time of the original petition.

    The University of Maryland only files Form I-539 as a courtesy; UM does not provide legal representation for the employee’s family members.

    The H-1B employee applicant does not complete Form I-539 unless all dependents are under the age of 14.

    The OIS provides the following checklist to assist the employee’s family in gathering the documents required by USCIS only.
    • Form I-539: The H-1B applicant’s oldest dependent family member completes Form I-539. This form is the oldest dependent’s application to change or to extend their status. Additional dependents are included on Supplement-1 of Form I-539. The form MUST be signed at Part 5. The H-1B employee applicant can only sign if all dependents are children under the age of 14. DO NOT complete a separate I-539 for each family member; only one form needs be completed for an entire family.
    • If there is more than one family member, the Supplemental Form to I-539 needs be completed to include those family members.
    • Copies of each dependent's passport identification and expiration page(s)
    • Copies of each dependent's U.S. visa
    • Copies of each dependent's Form I-94, front and back, with the red stamp clearly legible
    • Copies of other relevant immigration documents for each dependent (i.e., I-20 for F-2 dependents, DS-2019s for J-2 dependents, I-797 approval notices for H-4 dependents, etc.)
    • Check for $290 made payable to The Department of Homeland Security, USCIS.

      All correspondence related to the Form I-539 filing will be sent by USCIS directly to the applicants. For those whose family members are currently in the United States in another immigration status and wish to change to H-4, please schedule an appointment to obtain advice on how to change status.

  • Outside the United States
    For those whose family members are currently outside the United States, there is no requirement to file an application with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) before a visa interview, or to obtain documentation from the OIS. If the dependent is outside the United States, they must take a copy of the approved H petition along with proof of the dependent relationship to the U.S. embassy or consulate nearest their home. Consult the website of the U.S. embassy or consulate where your dependent(s) will apply for their H-4 visa(s) for information on visa appointments and any documents that they require.

    Your dependents should bring the following with them to their visa appointment:
    • Copy of your passport identification and expiration page(s)
    • Copy of your U.S. visa
    • Copy of your I-94
    • Copy of your I-797 H-1B approval notice
    • Your recent paycheck stubs
    • Evidence of their relationship to you (i.e., marriage certificate, birth certificate)