International students and scholars are an essential part of Lehigh University’s thriving academic community. The immigration process can be daunting, but our office is here to help you understand the process of hiring or inviting a scholar to Lehigh.
Section 1Inviting a Short-Term Visitor
Lehigh University hosts international visitors as lecturers and guests for short periods of time. Most international visitors come to Lehigh on B-1, B-2, WB or WT visas. B-2 and WT visitors do not qualify to receive honorariums from Lehigh. Departments should check with OISS before inviting international visitors to make they can receive honorarium, reimbursements or other payments. Visitors should mention the business nature of their visit at the port of entry to ensure they are entering on the right visa for honorarium purposes (B-1 or WB).
For more information on inviting international visitors, please review the Information for Short Term B Visa Visitors from the Controller’s Office (Lehigh log-in required).
Section 2Hiring and Bringing a Foreign National
If you are planning to hire or invite a foreign national to conduct collaborative research, you should consider the visa processing timeline. Our office recommends that you start the process as early as eight months out if you are hiring an international scholar on the H-1B visa and at least four months if you are planning to invite a J-1 scholar to campus.
Work with OISS to choose the appropriate visa category. International scholars are typically on J-1 or H-1B visas, but those are not the only options. Meet with an OISS advisor to learn more.
Identify someone in your department who knows the case well and request access to iHome so you can submit information to OISS. (iHome is currently only available for J-1 exchange visitor requests. H-1B requests are done differently.)
Collect the documents required to file your case with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Most supporting documents will come from the scholar, but a few documents must come from the department.
Once the paperwork is submitted, OISS may contact you if we have questions. This process is a team effort between OISS and your department. Our goal is to provide timely and accurate service to all departments. Your timely response to inquiries will help us a great deal.
Section 3H-1B Temporary Workers
H-1B offers formal, temporary employment for nonimmigrants employed in a specialty occupation which requires “theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge and the attainment of a bachelor's or higher degree in the specific specialty (or its equivalent) as a minimum for entry into the occupation in the US" as well as a labor attestation issued by the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Labor. The National Prevailing Wage and Helpdesk Center (NPWHC) of the Department of Labor has the right to determine the “prevailing wage” or minimum wage for the position. All employers must either meet or exceed that “prevailing wage determination.”
H-1B status is employer-specific.
- H-1B classification requires sponsorship by a specific employer.
- If a foreign national wishes to “transfer” from one employer to another, the new employer must file an H-1B petition for that person before s/he can change jobs and before the new employer may place the individual on payroll.
H-1B status is position-specific.
- H-1B status is granted based on the specific terms of the specific position.
- Minimal requirements necessary to carry out the duties of the position must be specified: the educational background and work experience, the specific duties of the position, appointment title, salary, terms of benefits.
- Changes in any of the terms of the position may require that an amended H-1B be filed. When contemplating any change, contact ISS to discuss the new terms and to determine whether we need to file an amended H-1B petition.
Learn more about the process of applying for an H1-B visa.
H-1B Checklist for Hiring Department
The hiring department must submit the following documents to OISS in support of an H-1B petition request:
- Departmental Request Forms (pdf)
- An original letter signed by the Department Chair or Dean of the College indicating/requesting the following (sample letter):
- That OISS to begin the paperwork for the H-1B petition
- The dates of the employment requested for the H-1B appointment, salary and brief description of the job duties
- Why this candidate was selected for the job. The explanation should include items such as education, training, experience, and if applicable, licensure/certification which substantiate that the individual meets the minimum requirements
- That the hiring department agrees to comply with all terms of the LCA (Labor Condition Application) until the end date and furnish return airfare home if the employee's employment is terminated before the end date approved by USCIS
- A check from Lehigh University for $460 made payable to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security for the USCIS application filing fee.
- A check made payable to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security for $500 (anti-fraud fee) must be submitted if it is a “new” petition. A “new” petition would include someone being hired by Lehigh for the first time or someone already employed by Lehigh per another nonimmigrant status (J-1, F-1) who wants to change status to H-1B. This fee does not apply to H-1B extension petitions for individuals currently working at Lehigh. The hiring department must pay this fee when it’s applicable, and a separate check must be submitted.
- An additional $2,500 must be submitted if premium processing (USCIS processing time of 15 calendar days) is requested/needed. This fee must be paid by the hiring department if a quick approval is needed for business reasons. If the need for premium processing is due to the employee’s personal reasons, he/she may pay the fee and must attest to the need for premium processing.
- The checks should NOT be sent directly to the Department of Homeland Security. The address to be put on checks is: U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, California Service Center, 24000 Avila Road, Room 2312, Laguna Niguel, California 92677
- Visa Deemed Export Control Questionnaire - please follow the instructions on page 1 of the questionnaire and submit the completed questionnaire to the Office of Research and Sponsored Program (firstname.lastname@example.org) AND the Office of General Counsel (email@example.com).
Section 4Permanent Residency
Lehigh University will sponsor certain employees who want to pursue permanent residency, or “green cards,” in the United States. Learn more about the process.
Section 5Hiring International Students
More than 1,100 international students call Lehigh their home away from home. The responsibilities for employing an international student depend on their visa type. Most are on F-1 student visas, though some are on J-1 exchange visitor visas.
Departments who want to invite J-1 students to work on projects such as summer internships should make the request through iHome at least 90 days prior to the student’s anticipated start date. Departments should identify a person who can submit such requests and collaborate with OISS during the process.
International students must follow certain rules and regulations while at the university and as non-immigrant visa holders. For instance, international students do not qualify for federal work-study jobs at Lehigh University.
Departments should also be mindful of the following before hiring an international student:
- F-1 and J-1 students can work up to 20 hours a week during school and full-time when Lehigh is on break.
- F-1 students need to show proof of employment to get a Social Security number. OISS issues the proof of employment letter.
- F-1 students must fill out the I-9 employment authorization form within three days of employment.
- J-1 students cannot work for you until they request approval from OISS and receive a written approval note.
- J-1 student employment is valid for one year only. To continue employment, the student will need a new approval and a new I-9 form from OISS.
- Fulbright students cannot work on campus until they receive permission from their sponsor.
Section 6iHome OISS Online Services
OISS uses iHome to provide online services. In iHome, departments can submit requests for OISS to review cases and issue the paperwork for their candidate to apply for a visa or change status in the United States, or to invite J-1 students. International students and scholars or future scholars can use iHome to submit information to OISS.
You can request access to iHome by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.