H-1B Visa for Temporary Workers in Specialty Occupations

H-1B visa status is a temporary, nonimmigrant category. Those eligible include professionals in specialty occupations who will work at MIT. A “specialty occupation” is an occupation that requires the theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge. ISchO is the only petitioner to USCIS for H-1B status based on MIT employment. Outside attorneys and agents are not authorized to do this work. All H-1Bs on appointment at MIT must register at ISchO.

Who Qualifies

MIT employment-based sponsorship for H-1B status may be available for salaried positions on the (1) academic staff; and 2) for certain sponsored research positions at the Postdoctoral Associate level and above, whose predominant responsibility is conducting direct research. H-1B status is often the most appropriate status for incoming tenure-track faculty. Among those who do not qualify for MIT sponsorship are affiliates (non-employees such as postdoctoral fellows and research fellows), persons on “visiting,” administrative, technical, library, management, and support staff appointments, individuals who are solely supported by personal or outside funds, and individuals subject to the J-1 two-year foreign residence requirement.

Application Procedures

In all cases involving a prospective faculty member, and in any other case in which H-1B status is under consideration for a current or prospective employee, ample lead-time is critical. Because H-1B processing involves three steps with the U.S. Department of Labor and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the authorized DLC administrator should discuss the case and submit intake information to an ISchO advisor at least four to six months in advance of the anticipated start date. If the ISchO confirms that H-1B status is appropriate, the DLC administrator and international scholar will be provided with a detailed checklist regarding the required procedure and documentation. ISchO completes the application and files the appropriate materials with the Department of Labor and USCIS. The international scholar may begin employment when ISchO notifies the DLC that the petition has been approved.

Limitations and Payment

H-1B status may be approved for a total of six years: an initial period of one to three years and extensions for one to three years. The six-year limit remains in effect regardless of changes in employer. An H-1B scholar sponsored and appointed by MIT must be paid by MIT. In all cases, funding levels must meet U.S. Department of Labor prevailing wage guidelines.

An H-1B petition is employer-specific such that only the petitioner(s) may employ the individual. If an individual is in H-1B status for employment elsewhere, that individual is authorized for MIT employment only if MIT also files an H-1B petition. MIT H-1B scholars may be reimbursed for travel and expenses by an outside institution, but may not receive honoraria or other compensation.

Dependent H-4 Visas

The spouse and children of an H-1B are usually granted H-4 visa status. Regulations do not allow H-4s to work. It is possible for an individual in H-4 status to attend school.

Page updated August 2023