Obtaining a Visa

How to get an H-1B visa

Before you begin to work at Indiana University, your IU department must submit your H-1B Employee E-Form. If you are applying from abroad, you must also get an H-1B visa stamp to enter the United States.

If you are a Canadian citizen, you do not need an H-1B visa stamp to enter the United States. You only need the H-1B Approval Notice (Form I-797) and your passport.

Apply for H-1B status

You and your department should follow the six steps below. These steps also apply to employees who are transferring their H-1B status.

Your IU department must submit your H-1B Employee E-Form. You cannot submit an H-1B Employee E-Form as an individual.

The department should:

Departments should also make sure that the prospective employee has the minimum relevant degree that is required for the position.

After we receive the e-form, we will email you about the application process and timeline. We will also ask you to provide some supporting documents.

Departments pay two separate fees to the Department of Homeland Security for new H-1B applications:

  1. An application fee of $460 (for applications submitted to USCIS on or after December 23, 2016)
  2. An anti-fraud fee of $500

The department may also choose to pay the premium processing fee of $1,225 (see step 3).

United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced on March 3, 2017 that it will be suspending the use of the Premium Processing Service for all H-1B petitions starting on April 3 for a period of up to 6 months.  The Premium Processing Service is an expedited filing option for nonimmigrant visa petitions that provides a 15-day processing period of visa petitions, which in the normal course would take several months. We anticipate the suspension of premium processing may cause delays in employment start dates for some employees. Currently it is taking a minimum of eight months for USCIS to process an H-1B petition. A scholar advisor can assist you with understanding how your case should be best processed.

The processing time for H-1Bs is four to six months after the e-form is approved.

  • OIS processing takes approximately one week.
  • U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) processing takes approximately nine weeks. Before we can send the H-1B application to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the DOL must process information about the employee’s wages. First the DOL must provide a prevailing wage determination. This helps ensure that the H-1B employee receives a fair wage for the field of employment and geographic region. Then we must file a Labor Condition Application with the DOL. This document certifies that the wage is the prevailing wage or the wage offered to employees in similar positions—whichever is higher.
  • USCIS processing takes approximately nine weeks.

Because of this, departments should submit the H-1B Employee E-Form to OIS at least six months before the employee’s start date.

Processing times do not include the time that employees need to enter the United States, which usually takes at least two weeks. Anticipate this time when planning your arrival.

Premium processing fee

The typical processing time for H-1Bs is four to six months after the e-form is approved. For faster USCIS processing, the department can pay a premium processing fee of $1,225. The processing time for premium-processed H-1Bs is three months. This includes the standard one week of OIS processing and nine weeks of DOL processing that are required for all applications. Premium processing guarantees that USCIS will process the application or refund the fee within 15 days (instead of the standard nine weeks), except in cases that involve security clearances or other valid delays.

We recommend that departments consult with us about whether to pay the premium processing fee. If departments are going to pay for premium processing, they should submit the H-1B Employee E-Form in iStart at least three months before the employee’s start date.

We will email you after your application has been approved, and we will provide you with a copy of your H-1B approval notice and H-1B application as filed (including Form ETA 9035, the Labor Condition Application). If you are applying from abroad, you should schedule your visa appointment and interview at the nearest U.S. consulate.

The interview is a requirement for getting your visa stamp, which you need in order to enter the United States. You must get the stamp from a U.S. consulate outside the country. You cannot get it inside the United States.

Wait times for appointments and for visa approvals can vary. To see how long this process takes in your country, read the Department of State’s visa wait time information.

We recommend that you take the following documents to your visa interview:

  • A valid passport
  • A photocopy of your H-1B approval notice (I-797). The Bogota Consulate, however, requires the original document.
  • A current letter from the IU department that hired you. The letter must confirm your employment, title, and salary.
  • A photocopy of your H-1B petition (Form I-129), including the Labor Condition Application (Form ETA 9035)
  • If you lived in the United States previously, documentation that you resided here legally. Examples include a previous I-20, an IAP-66 or DS-2019, and an I-797 from other employers.

The consulate where you have your interview may require additional documents.

The consulate may require security clearances before it will issue your H-1B visa stamp. The requirement may be because of your name, birth country, country of citizenship, field of study, or field of research. Security clearances can take two to six weeks, or more than six weeks in rare cases. Plan for these wait times when you make arrangements to travel to the United States.