International employees are valued members of the Kennesaw State University community. In order to address issues specific to the international community, KSU International Employee Services has prepared a set of documents answering some common questions and providing guidance to documentation questions.
All information provided on this website is intended to be an aide to applicants, but does not represent advice surpassing that of a qualified immigration attorney.
Additional information for foreign nationals can be found at the Kennesaw State University Center for Global Initiatives and Business Services / International Services.
Employment Visa Services (EVS) is a function of the Employment Services department within the division of Human Resources. EVS serves as the university’s liaison with federal agencies regarding employment-related immigration matters, with Human Resources regarding the employment of international workers at KSU, and with international employees regarding maintenance of their employment-related immigration status.Our primary activities center around:
- Service and support of KSU-sponsored non-immigrant visas (primarily H1B and J-1) for full time faculty and professional staff
- Service and support of KSU-sponsored legal permanent residency for KSU full-time, tenure-track faculty
- Research in support of HR for employment eligibility issues
- Coordination with Payroll Services of residency status analysis for tax purposes
- Evaluation and support of non-immigrant employee issues in coordination with Human Resources, Academic Affairs, Global Initiatives, and Business Services
- Re-validation of expired Form I-9 employment eligibility documentation
EVS is committed to providing accurate, timely, and well informed information on federal regulations governing the stay of international scholars, faculty and professional staff at KSU. By ensuring that the institution operates within the maze of federally mandated guidelines, EVS is able to support KSU’s educational, research and internationalization goals for the 21st century.
Is my position eligible for H1b?
H1b status is reserved for specialty occupations, defined as those requiring a Bachelor’s degree as the minimum requirement for the profession. Pursuant to Department of Labor regulations, KSU must pay the higher of the actual or prevailing wage for the position. KSU will only sponsor individuals for H1b whose positions meet these requirements and who have obtained at least a Bachelor’s degree in the appropriate field. Additionally, KSU limits its H1b sponsorship to full-time positions with an initial appointment of at least one full academic year for faculty or one full year for staff. Please contact EVS directly to determine if a position is H1b eligible.
How do we start the H1b process?
The department contacts EVS to determine whether the position, salary, and candidate qualify for H1b sponsorship. EVS will provide the department with all necessary forms and request information directly from the international candidate.
Is KSU subject the H1b cap?
Although most employers are subject to the “H1b cap”, universities are exempt from this cap. This means, KSU can apply for an H1b at any time.
How much does H1b sponsorship cost?
Departments are required to pay for the filing fees and fraud fees associated with all initial, transfer, and extension filings. Additionally, departments may choose to pay an additional fee for USCIS premium processing.
How long does it take to get H1b?
Using regular processing, receiving USCIS approval for an H1b petition can take 4-5 months. Using premium processing, getting an H1b approval notice can take 2-3 months.
How long can an employee hold H1b status?
An individual may hold H1b status for a total of 6 years. This is cumulative time, not time per employer. Extensions beyond 6 years are only permitted in limited circumstances related to permanent residency sponsorship. Keep in mind, KSU only sponsors full-time, tenure-track faculty for permanent residency.
Does my time as an H-4 dependent count against my H1b time?
No! Only time in H1b (or L-1) status counts against your H1b time.
I am currently living abroad, how do I get an H1b visa?
You will need to apply for an H1b visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad. Check the website of the Embassy/consulate to submit the required application, fees, photos, and to schedule an interview appointment. Generally, you will need to bring the H1b approval notice and a copy of the H1b petition packet. Each Embassy/Consulate conducts interviews a little differently, however, and it is best to check with the embassy for details regarding what documents to bring to the interview.
Can my dependents accompany me?
If your dependents are currently in the United States in another dependent non-immigrant status (J-2, F-2, etc), they will need to file an I-539 Application to Change/Extend Non-immigrant status. You are responsible for the filing fees associated with this application and this form must be submitted with your H1b petition. If your H1b is approved, USCIS will also approve your dependents’ H-4 application and send the approval notice and new I-94 card directly to your home address.
If your dependents are currently abroad, they will need to apply for H-4 status at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad. They may do this when you apply for the H-1b visa or at a later date.
Can my H-4 dependents work in the U.S.?
H-4 dependents may not work in the United States.
May my spouse or children attend university while in H4 status?
Yes! H-4 dependents may attend classes at a U.S. university. However, H-4 dependents may not hold employment in the U.S. That means that your spouse and/or children cannot hold student assistant or graduate assistant positions on campus. International students can also hold F-1 status which does allow part-time employment on campus. Contact Global Admissions for more information regarding F-1 status.
Will I have to pay taxes as an H1b employee?
All income earned in the U.S. is taxed. Certain international employees are eligible for tax treaty benefits depending on their home country and profession. For more information, contact Payroll Services.
Now that I’m in H1b, can I work anywhere?
No! H1b is employer specific and job specific. That means, you cannot work at KSU with an H1b sponsored by another employer and you cannot use your KSU-sponsored H1b to work elsewhere. It also means that your H1b is only good for the job as it was described on your H1b petition. Should you change jobs, get promoted, etc., you and your department must contact EVS before the change occurs so that we can file an amendment to your H1b petition.
I am currently an F-1 student. If KSU sponsors me for an H1b, when can I start working?
F-1 students (even those on OPT) may only begin working for KSU after the H1b has been approved. You may not work during the F-1 “grace period”. Contact EVS at least 5 months before your F-1/OPT status expires to ensure that there is no gap in your employment eligibility.
Can I travel while the change of status from F-1/J-1 to H1B is pending?
No. Travelling while a change of status application is pending is deemed an abandonment of the petition. Should you travel while the H1b change of status is pending, you will have to remain outside the U.S. until the petition is approved and apply for an H-1b visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad.
If I am living in the US when my H1b petition is approved, do I have to leave & re-enter the US for it to take effect?
No! If a change of status or extension of status was requested, the change/extension takes effect automatically on the date listed on the approval notice. USCIS will send EVS a new I-94 card evidencing your H1b status. Once that arrives, EVS will contact you to schedule a time to pick up the I-94.
I am currently on H1b with another employer. When can I start working at KSU?
Under provisions of the American Competitiveness in the 21st Century Act, individuals who are already in H1b status with another employer may “port”, or transfer, their H1b to another employer. These individuals may begin working as soon as a KSU-sponsored H1b petition has been filed with USCIS and EVS receives a USCIS receipt notice, confirming the filing.
When should my H1B status be renewed?
The application for an extension of stay must be submitted before your current authorized stay expires. It is advisable to apply for the extension as early as 6 months in advance due to possible long processing time by Department of Labor and USCIS. While applying for your H1B extension, please don't forget to apply for H4 extension(s) for your dependents. Your dependents will NOT get automatic extension based on your H1B extension, so you have to apply separately for them.
Am I eligible to work while an H1b extension is pending?
Yes. You are eligible to continue working while the H1b extension is pending. Should your H1b status expire while your extension is still pending, 8 CFR 274a.12(b)(20) allows you to continue working for up to 240 days beyond the expiration date.
Can I travel while the extension of H1b status is pending?
You can travel while your original H1b petition is still valid or if your extension has already been approved and you have evidence of the extension. Keep in mind that you will need a new H1b stamp to enter the U.S. if your old stamp has expired.
If your travel plans extend beyond the date your current H1b status expires and the extension has not yet been granted, however, you won’t be allowed to re-enter the U.S. until the petition has been approved and you have applied for an H1b stamp at a US Embassy/Consulate abroad.
Will I be able to renew my driver's license while my application for H1B extension is pending?
Unfortunately, the Georgia Attorney General and Driver's Services do not recognize 8 CFR 274a.12(b)(20) with regard to driver’s license extensions. So, although you will still be in status and allowed to work, you will not be able to extend your license until the H1b is approved and you receive your new I-94 card.
May I accept outside employment or honorarium on H1b status?
Although H1b employees may receive travel, lodging, meals reimbursement for their incidental academic activities at other institutions, they may not be paid a wage or salary for their services and may not derive a monetary or other material gain from those activities. In some cases, receipt of scholarships may be permissible if the award is designed to encourage the general diffusion of knowledge or the advancement of a field of study. Because accepting payment for services outside of your H1b employment at KSU may constitute a violation of status, EVS recommends that you contact us immediately regarding any payments from outside sources.
Do I have to carry my passport and I-94 with me at all times?
Yes. According to INA § 264(e): “Every alien, eighteen years of age and over, shall at all times carry with himand have in his personal possession any certificate of alien registration or alien registration receipt card issued to him pursuant to subsection (d). Any alien who fails to comply with the provisions of this subsection shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and shall upon conviction for each offense be fined not to exceed $100 or be imprisoned not more than thirty days or both.”
The registration document is usually Form I-94 for non-immigrants, or Form I-551 “greencard” for lawful permanent residents.
May I enroll in college courses while in H1b status?
Yes! The University System of Georgia has a great Tuition Assistance Program available for faculty and staff and we encourage you to take part in it! Keep in mind, however, that the primary purpose of your time in the U.S. must continue to be employment. If your primary purpose changes to studying, you should not be in H1b status. NOTE: KSU does not sponsor part-time employees for H1b status.
I just moved. What do I need to do?
INA 265(a) requires all non-citizens to update their address with the Department of Homeland Security within 10 days of moving. Failure to do so can result in severe penalties under INA 266. Employees can update their address information with DHS on the USCIS website under “Change of Address” or by calling USCIS directly.
My employment at KSU was terminated. What are my rights with regard to return transit home?
Federal law requires that employers who terminate the employment of an H1b worker before the expiration of their current H1b status must pay the reasonable cost of return transportation to the employee's last residence abroad. This provision only covers instances of termination before the expiration of H1b status, not resignations, decisions to to renew H1b status, or terminations that coincide with H1b status expiration. This provision also only covers return transportation for the employee, not for dependents or material possessions. Departments are expected to cover these costs and should keep this provision in mind when hiring an H1b employee. Contact EVS for more information regarding the return transportation requirement.
Once your employment is terminated at KSU, we are required to withdraw your H1b petition. Please note: this may leave you without legal status in the U.S.
I resigned from KSU. Do I need to tell EVS?
Yes, please. Federal law requires that KSU withdraw an H1b petition is any “material changes” occur. Resignation is a material change. Please let us know of your decision to leave KSU so that we can fully comply with this obligation.
There have been some changes to my job. Do I need to tell EVS?
Yes! Because H1b is job-specific, your current H1b is only valid for your current position as it was described in the H1b petition. If any changes occur (promotion, demotion, salary changes, changes in hours, etc), your department must contact EVS before the change occurs so that we may evaluate whether an amended H1b petition is necessary.
Can I volunteer while in H1b status?
You may volunteer in positions that are traditionally seen as “volunteer” positions. For instance, volunteering at a food bank, homeless shelter, church, etc. are likely within the realm of normal volunteering opportunities. Defining a position as “unpaid” or “volunteer”, however, does not mean that it is a legitimate volunteer position under USCIS guidelines. A person may not perform work as a volunteer in a position that would normally be a paid position or if the foreign national believes some form of compensation will follow. Doing so is considered working without authorization and is a violation of non-immigrant status.
I will be travelling soon, what do I need to bring with me to the visa appointment?
Before you leave, we recommend that pick up the original H1b approval notice, copy of the H1b petition, and employment verification letter from EVS. Check the website of the Embassy/Consulate where you will be making your appointment to see if they have additional requirements. EVS strongly recommends making an appointment with the embassy before you leave the U.S.
I was delayed at the embassy for “administrative processing”. What does that mean?
Some professions and areas of study/research require additional administrative and security checks before the embassy official can confirm visa eligibility. This often happens with professions involving computers, chemistry, and neuroscience. Applicants are advised of this requirement when they apply for a visa at the U.S. embassy/consulate. Most administrative processing is resolved within 60 days of the visa interview. When administrative processing is required, the timing will vary based on individual circumstances of each case. Visa applicants are reminded to apply early for their visa, well in advance of the anticipated travel date.
The US Consulate has delayed approving my re-entry into the US because my "record is not in PIMS" - what does this mean?
U.S. Embassies and Consulates use the electronic Petition Information Management Service (PIMS) to access details of approved nonimmigrant petitions. The PIMS record is used to determine petition approval and visa eligibility.
All KSU-sponsored petitions are submitted with a duplicate copy to be forwarded to the Kentucky Consular Center (KCC) upon approval. If your record cannot be found in PIMS, however, don’t worry. The Consulate will contact the KCC to find your petition. The stated turnaround time to confirm approval is two (2) working days. Consular offices will not verify a record exists in PIMS prior to your appointment, so individuals are strongly encourage to schedule appointments early in their trip abroad to ensure enough time if an issue is encountered.
I returned to the US from abroad and my I-94 has a different date than my H1b petition. What does that mean?
Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will often stamp an I-94 with an earlier expiration date than the petition expiration date where the individual’s passport expires before the H1b petition expires. The I-94 card controls the expiration of your status in the U.S. This means that remaining in the U.S. beyond the date listed on your I-94 card is a violation of status, no matter what your H1b approval notice says. There are several ways to fix this “mistake”. The easiest is often to renew your passport and exit and re-enter the U.S. When you re-enter the U.S. with the new passport, CBP will provide you with a new I-94 card which should be stamped with the H1b petition expiration date. For additional information, please contact EVS.
When you return to the U.S., please provide EVS with the original H1b approval (if you borrowed it from us) as well as a copy of your new I-94 and visa.
Will KSU sponsor me for a green card?
KSU only supports and sponsors employment-based permanent residency petitions for full-time, tenure track faculty. KSU does not permit outside attorneys to file immigrant petitions on the university’s behalf. All employment-based petitions must originate with EVS.
What do I need to do to start the permanent residency process?
The decision to sponsor an employee for employment-based permanent residency is a decision of the department in consultation with EVS, and the department should contact EVS directly regarding the possibility of sponsorship. EVS considers as non-binding all promises to regarding permanent residency sponsorship made during the recruitment or hiring process.
When do I need to start the permanent residency process?
In order to being the process, the department must contact EVS directly no earlier than one semester after the international employee begins working at KSU. For EB2 Advance Degree Professional petitions, a Labor Certification Application (PERM) must be filed within 18 months of the date the offer letter was issued in order to take advantage of special Department of Labor provisions regarding university teaching positions and to avoid a (costly) re-recruitment effort.
Employment-based permanent residency may also be pursued in the EB1 Outstanding Professor category. This category is reserved for those faculty members who have at least 3 years teaching experience and have risen to the top of their field by virtue of their international distinction. This is a rigorous standard and will only be pursued on a case-by-case basis. EB1 petitions should be filed at least 12 months before the individual’s H1b status expires.
How much does permanent residency sponsorship cost?
All applications with the Department of Labor are currently free. The I-140 Immigrant Petition currently costs $580, for which the department is responsible. The I-485 Application to Adjust Status (green card application) currently costs $1070, including biometric fees. Because the I-485 is an application specific to the individual employee (not KSU), the filing costs associated with the I-485 are the employee’s responsibility.
Can I renew my H1b until my permanent residency application is approved?
Where a labor certification application was filed at least 365 days before the expiration of the employee’s H1b status or where an I-140 was approved but the I-485 cannot be filed because of a backlog exists in the employee’s immigrant category, KSU can continue to renew an employee’s H1b status until the employee obtains permanent residency or his/her I-485 is denied.
My Employment-Based (EB) immigration category is backlogged. Will KSU submit an EB1 petition for me too?
KSU will only consider dual-filings on a case-by –case basis. Generally, a backlog in an immigrant category is not sufficient reason to submit multiple I-140 immigrant petitions.
Can EVS help me with my I-485 application?
EVS cannot provide advice or guidance on your I-485. Since the I-485 is individual-sponsored and paid for by the employee, employees are encouraged to seek an outside attorney’s help with the I-485 applications. Please note: An outside attorney may not file an employer-sponsored petition (for example, I-129, I-140) in KSU’s name.
I heard that leaving the country after filing the I-485 is considered abandonment of the application. Is that true?
This is true for most non-immigrants. Those non-immigrants must apply for and receive “Advanced Parole” before departing the U.S. in order to not be deemed to have abandoned their application. However, 8 CFR 245.2(a)(4)(C) permits those in H1b or H4 status to travel abroad while an I-485 application is pending without abandoning the petition. Keep in mind that if your spouse is not in H-4 status, he or she may need to receive advanced parole before leaving the U.S. while the I-485 is pending.
Will my spouse and children get green cards too?
EVS will include your spouse and all children on your I-140 petition so that they may obtain “derivative” green cards. Each spouse and child residing in the U.S. must, however, submit a separate I-485 application in order to actually receive the green card.
I finally got my permanent resident card. What next?
Congratulations! Please stop by EVS so that we can re-verify your employment eligibility, update our HR and Payroll records, and officially close your KSU immigration file.
Who can I contact if the answer to my question isn't listed here?
Feel free to contact Employment Visa Services by phone at 770.423.6030 or by email under the "Contact Us" tab above.