H-1B Visa Information Overview

H-1B Overview

The H-1B visa classification is an employment status for foreign nationals who will perform services in a specialty occupation. Specialty occupations require at least a bachelor's degree. Requirements for an H-1B visa are as follows:

  • Foreign national must have a high degree of experience in the specialty occupation for which he or she is applying.
  • Foreign national must have a bachelor's degree or minimum degree required for the specialty position.
  • Foreign nationals cannot self-petition. Missouri State University must file the H-1B petition.

The H-1B visa is also job and location specific, therefore, the foreign national while employed is only allowed to perform the duties that are outlined in the H-1B at the location specific in the petition.

H-1B visa status can be obtained in one of two ways:

  • If the individual is abroad, after certain application procedures are accomplished, the foreign national may receive an H-1B visa at a U.S. consulate.
  • If the foreign national is already in the U.S. and maintaining lawful non-immigrant status in another visa category, he or she may usually apply for a change of status to H-1B. If the H-1B employee is already on an H-1B visa in the U.S., Missouri State University will still need to process an H-1B visa petition on behalf of the employee.

There is no guarantee that the H-1B visa petition will be approved, even if the foreign national was able to obtain an H-1B originally. 

An individual can maintain H-1B visa status for a maximum of 6 years. Employers can only petition for an H-1B for 3 years at a time, meaning an extension petition would be necessary. When an individual reaches the 6 year limit they must leave the U.S. and live abroad for one year before they are eligible for H-1B visa status again. An extension beyond 6 years is permissible for those for whom a Form I-140 Immigration petition for Alien Worker has been filled and whose labor certification or I-140 was filed for at least 365 days before the extension is requested.

If the hiring department terminates employment prior to the expiration date of the H-1B visa, the hiring department is responsible for paying the airfare home for the foreign national.

The H-1B Process

  1. Once the hiring department determines that a foreign national is the hiring department's top choice for employment, the hiring department should contact the International Services office to discuss visa options for the candidate. If the H1B visa is appropriate for the foreign national, the hiring department completes the H1B Request Form and supplies a copy of the signed appointment letter and job description (as posted). At this time, a Deemed Export Control Certification form is also needed.
  2. Upon completion of the forms, submit it to the International Services office for processing. The International Services office will then work with an approved attorney to obtain additional information from the department and/or the new hire to open a new H-1B case.
  3. The immigration attorney will then compile all of the appropriate forms that USCIS requires, including the Labor Condition Application (LCA).
  4. Once a case is opened, the required LCA posting and invoice will be sent to the hiring department. The LCA posting is required to be posted in a conspicuous place for 10 working days (i.e. employee bulletin board). The department will need to issue a payment request that asks that International Services be called when the check(s) are ready to be picked up and sent to the attorney. In the meantime, the immigration attorney has sent all forms to the International Services office for signature. Copies are made and originals are mailed back to the immigration attorney.
  5. When the immigration attorney has received both the signed documents and check(s), they mail them to USCIS.
  6. The immigration attorney will notify both the International Services office and the foreign national of receipt from the USCIS, and also the I-797 approval or denial form.

Filing Fees

Hiring departments are responsible for payment of all USCIS filing fees REQUIRED for employment of the foreign national. Missouri State University currently uses an immigration attorney to handle all filing of petitions so there is also a filing fee for them.

  • $460 I-129 Regular Processing Fee (required for ALL applications).
  • $500 Fraud Prevention and Detection Fee (required for ALL applications EXCEPT amendments and extension of H1B visa status).
  • $1200 filing fees for immigration attorney
  • $2500 Premium Processing Fee, to guarantee 15-day processing time by USCIS (not required for all cases)

This list does NOT include visa issuance fees levied at U.S. Consulates/Embassies for applicants outside of the U.S. Foreign nationals residing outside the U.S. should visit the Department of State's website to obtain a current list of visa issuance procedures.

*Fees subject to change


Employees currently in approved H-1B visa status at Missouri State University will need to extend their H-1B visa status before their current status expires in order to maintain lawful status and to continue working at Missouri State University without interruption. Employees needing to extend H-1B visa status are encouraged to begin the process well in advance.

The International Services office and/or the immigration attorney contacts such individuals 6 months in advance of their current expiration date to remind them of this requirement. Although an employee with a pending extension of H1B visa status at Missouri State University is authorized to continue working past the current expiration date, such an employee will not be able to travel outside the U.S. and obtain a visa for re-entry until the H-1B Approval Notice is received.

Employment Changes

Employees in H-1B visa status at Missouri State University with significant employment changes may need to file an amended H-1B visa application with the USCIS. Significant changes may include any of the following:

  • promotion to a new position,
  • change of job title,
  • significant change in job duties,
  • change in employment classification (i.e., changing form staff to faculty), or
  • reduction or increase in work hours.

The International Services office should be contacted by the department to determine the required documents and forms needed. The employee is NOT approved to begin the new employment until the International Services office confirms that an amended H-1B visa application has been sent to the USCIS.


Employees in H-1B visa status at Missouri State University should be aware that their ability to remain in lawful H-1B visa status in the U.S. is directly tied to their employment at Missouri State University.

H-1B visa status does not typically grant a "grace period" at the end of employment. Upon termination of employment, legal H-1B visa status ends, even if the petition was approved for a longer period. H-1B's reaching the end of their status must do on of the following 3 things on or before the last day of employment:

  • file for an extension of H-1B visa status with Missouri State University or a new employer.
  • file for a change of status to another category.
  • depart the U.S.

H-4 (Dependent) Visa Status

Dependents of H-1B visa holders (spouses and children under 21 years of age) are eligible for H-4 status. This status can be obtained at the U.S. Consulate or Embassy if the dependents reside outside the U.S. If the dependents reside in the U.S., then the International Services office can assist in filing an application for H-4 status with the USCIS through the immigration attorney. Dependent family members MUST obtain H-4 status if inside the U.S. UNLESS in another nonimmigrant category (i.e., F-1 student status, H-1B status, J-1 status).

Dependent family members in H-4 visa status are NOT authorized to work while in the U.S. Dependents in H-4 visa status may NOT receive any income while in H-4 visa status.

Dependents in H-4 visa status may study or take courses at local universities or colleges; however, if they choose to study full-time, they should consider changing to F-1 visa student status in order to obtain approved, on-campus work authorization.