This Frequently Asked Question section is divided up by visa category. If you have a specific question or concern, please contact an international advisor in International Programs at (785) 864-6161 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hiring a postdoctoral research: what is the correct visa category?
KU uses the J-1 Research Scholar, H-1B temporary worker, TN NAFTA Treaty Trader and F-1 OPT visa categories to obtain work authorization for Postdoctoral Researchers. Factors that help us determine which visa category to use include where they physically located, whether they completed their degree in the United States and if they have previous work history in the United States. If we can continue to use the same visa category we will try to do so. If the future employee is outside the United States, we will most likely use the J-1 Research Scholar visa category.
How do I bring an international visitor to KU?
The purpose of the visit and duration of the visit are key issues. For shorter time periods with no KU remuneration then using the B-1/B-2 or Visa Waiver Program are quick options. If the visitor will come to KU to do research or teach for a short or limited time period, we will most likely recommend the J-1 visa.
How long does it take to get a visa?
Once the employee/scholar/visitor has the appropriate paperwork from International Programs, they can begin the visa application process at a U.S. consulate. Consulates tend to prioritize Student and Exchange Visitor (J-1 scholar) visa applications. Other visa categories will take longer. You can search for specific consulate wait times on the U.S. Department of State website.
As the hiring department, what fees do we have to pay?
International Programs services are free for KU departments. For certain employment visa petitions (H-1B, TN and O-1) the hiring department will need to pay the petition application fee(s). These fees are paid to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Each visa category section will list the fees the hiring department must pay.
Who does KU sponsor for employment-based permanent residency?
The hiring unit should not promise permanent residency to an international employee because the process is complex, lengthy, and inherently uncertain. All tenure and tenure-track positions are eligible for permanent residency and International Programs should be involved early in the hiring process. International employees in positions defined as temporary by KU are not eligible for employment-based permanent residency. Postdoctoral researcher positions are among those that are considered temporary. Please review the KU policy library for more information.
What is the minimum funding/salary requirement?
H-1B Temporary Workers
An H-1B is an employer-sponsored nonimmigrant classification which allows persons who are not U.S. citizens or permanent residents to work for up to six years in a specialty occupation. "Employer-sponsored" means that the employer (at KU, IP) must apply for the H-1B on behalf of the prospective H-1B employee through the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The H 1B also requires that the H-1B employer pay the H-1B employee the same or higher wage than is paid to workers in similar occupations, in the geographical area of the proposed employment.
What is a “Specialty Occupation?”
A "Specialty occupation" means a position that requires specialized knowledge and skills, and at least a bachelor's degree in that specialized area.
What kinds of occupations qualify for H-1B status?
A broad range of professional occupations qualify for H-1B status. A position must require a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in a specialized field in order for KU to consider H-1B sponsorship.
Who is eligible to obtain H-1B status?
H-1B status is available to a person who has been offered a temporary professional position by a U.S. employer and the hiring department at KU is willing to sponsor the H-1B. A bachelors degree or higher in a related area is the minimum educational level required for a position to qualify for H-1B status, and the H-1B employee must have this degree (or higher).
Am I eligible for H-1B status since I have a bachelor's degree?
Not necessarily. The job itself must require a bachelor's degree or higher in a specialized field. You must then have that degree to qualify for H-1B status.
Yes, the KU hiring department must pay the H-1B employee the prevailing wage or the actual wage, whichever is higher. The employer must also certify that it is not displacing any U.S. workers to hire the H-1B applicant, and that there are no strikes or other work stoppages in the occupation in which the H-1B applicant will be employed. The employer makes these declarations, under penalty of perjury, by submitting to DOL for certification a form called a "Labor Condition Application" (LCA).
What is the H-1B "cap"?
The cap refers to the limit of H-1B visas allowed per federal fiscal year (FY) for U.S. employers that are subject to the cap. The federal fiscal year begins on October 1st and ends on September 30th of the following year. Current regulations set the cap at 65,000 H-1B visas for the entire country. Applications are accepted at the USCIS on a first-come, first-serve basis. In recent years the cap has been met on or near the first date of application eligibility, April 1st. To check the latest cap count please visit USCIS website. KU is a Cap-Exempt organization and is not subject to the cap amounts.
Who is exempt from the H-1B cap?
KU is cap-exempt. All universities and related nonprofit entities, nonprofit research organizations and government research organizations are permanently exempt from the cap. These employers are able to submit an H-1B application to USCIS at any time during the year without concern for the fiscal year limit. However, a person who works for an H-1B cap-exempt employer who changes jobs to an employer that is not cap-exempt will become subject to the H-1B cap.
There is also an exemption from the annual cap for the first 20,000 new H-1B beneficiaries who have earned a master's degree or higher from a U.S. institution of higher education.
When is the best time to submit the H-1B application to the USCIS?
The earliest an H-1B application can be submitted to the USCIS is six months prior to the selected H-1B start date but because it takes months of preparation prior to being able to submit the H-1B petition, the sooner you can start the better.
Is H-1B status the only way that a person can qualify to work at KU?
The employee may be eligible for other types of nonimmigrant (temporary) statuses that would allow them to work in the United States such as the OPT, CPT treaty/trader investment classifications, the TN status for Canadian or Mexican citizens, the J-1 exchange visitor status, the E-3 status for Australian citizens, or the O-1. Please contact IP for possible suggestions.
What do I have to do to bring someone on a J-1 visa?
To begin the process a KU department or shared service center representative will submit the J-1 Application e-form in iHawk. Please visit the timeline section of the J-1 visa section of this website to learn about the entire process. You can learn about what documentation International Programs will ask for as well. If you need to request access to iHawk, please visit the iHawk section of this website.
Can a J-1 scholar work on campus?
The J-1 scholar visa categories have work authorization built into them for the KU hosting department. However, it is important to note that the employment opportunity must be directly related to the J-1 program activity. Employment in other departments will most likely not be permitted. Please contact an advisor in International Programs for clarification.
What is the two-year home residency requirement?
Some J-1 scholar are subject to a two year home country physical presence requirement. If subject, then once the J-1 scholar completes their program, they must reside in their home country for an aggregate of two years to be eligible for certain immigration benefits. The effects follow (1) not eligible for an immigration visa or adjustment of status to permanent resident, (2) Not eligible for an H, L, or K visa. (3) Not eligible to change status inside the United States from J to any other nonimmigrant category. You can learn about the two year home residency requirement under the J-1 Exchange Visitor section of this website.
The minimum funding requirement for the J visa is to ensure that scholars and their families do not become burdens to the state. At the moment, International Programs funding policy follows federal poverty guidelines. This means that in the sate of Kansas scholars must have at least $1,000 per month for the duration of their stay. For each dependent the requirement increases by $350 per month. Remember, these are poverty levels of funding, we strongly suggest the scholar have higher levels of funding.