H-1B & PERM Manual

This online manual provides the necessary procedures, guidelines, and information in dealing with the H-1B Specialty Occupation visa. Please click on the applicable section for the full information.

1. Introduction

With Rice's globalization priorities, coupled with its historical ability to attract the best faculty, researchers and staff from anywhere, the numbers for processing employment visas for foreign nationals have increased. Department of Labor (DOL) laws constantly change, which necessitates continuous review of current compliance processes.

In the following sections, you will find the necessary steps for hiring a foreign national on the H-1B or the Permanent Residency (employer-sponsored) visa. It is important that all of the key participants in the process are notified in a timely manner, in order to ensure Rice's compliance responsibilities, as well as minimize delays in the visa process as much as possible.

You may contact Adria Baker (abaker@rice.edu) or Andy Meretoja (thm1@rice.edu) from the Office of International Students & Scholars or Diana Garcia (dmgarcia@rice.edu) from Human Resources for questions concerning Rice University's visa process.

2. How Can the Procedures Manual Help When Filing an H-1B and PERM at Rice?

  1. Help us to coordinate between the various offices and the employee, as there are multiple steps and timelines that need to be navigated.
  2. The Department of Labor (DOL) laws change frequently, which is particularly important to understand for PERM (university-sponsored PR), obligating the employer to greatly increased compliance and mandatory financial responsibilities. The DOL updates their information, however, oftentimes the implementation varies.
  3. Maintain all compliance laws, in an effort not to lose our ability to sponsor any employee on an H-1B or university-sponsored PR (PERM).

Examples of compliance and financial issues that Rice must address are:

  1. The DOL laws which specify that the employer must pay all PERM-related costs; these costs cannot be paid or reimbursed by the employee to the employer.
  2. Strong procedures for the H-1B public audit file requirement.
  3. Clarification on procedures for the PERM audit file.
  4. Who on campus is responsible for what piece (and risks) of the H-1B and PR process? Processing takes a “winding path” between the employee, hiring department, attorney’s office, Human Resources, and the OISS. Processes change depending upon if the employee is:
    • Staff
    • Researcher, or
    • Faculty

AND applying for:

  • H-1B, or
  • Permanent Residency
    • Employer-sponsored
    • Individual-sponsored
3. Approved Law Firms

If a candidate wants the university to sponsor an application for H-1B or Permanent Residency, the university must approve the law firm that will process and file the application. Therefore, Rice University recommends these “pre-approved” firms:

  1. Attorney Philip Eichorn, from the law firm of Foster, LLP; https://www.fosterglobal.com/; tel.713-335-3930, or
  2. Harry Gee & Associates; http://www.harrygee.com/; tel. 713-781-0071

Exception: Should the candidate choose to use another law firm, prior review and approval from Rice’s Office of the General Counsels must be given in order for Rice to sponsor it.

4. H-1B Fact Sheet

What is an H‐1B visa?

  • Temporary work visa for specialty occupations requiring a minimum of a bachelor’s degree
  • Valid for up to six years; visas can be issued in increments of up to three years
  • Visa belongs to the employer (Rice) and is specific to the job, job duties, work location, and work schedule (full-time or part-time)
  • Salary to be paid must meet “prevailing wage” based on job duties and job location
  • Extension beyond six years may be possible if the individual is applying for permanent residency and has reached a specific status within the permanent residency application process
  • For corporate employers there is a quota limit on the number of H‐1B visas granted within a year; universities are exempt from this quota

H‐1B Program Requires

  • Prevailing wage determination,
  • Attestation to Department of Labor (through proof of good faith recruitment),
  • Maintenance of a Public Access File
  • And is subject to audit from the Department of Labor (DOL) and United States Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS)

Cost/Fees (for Universities)

  • Estimated cost is approximately $2,500 to $5,000. This includes required anti‐fraud fee, premium processing, revocation fee if necessary and fees for family members.
  • Anti‐fraud fee ($500) is required for the individual’s first Rice H‐1B visa, but it is not required for extensions. It must be paid for by Rice; it cannot be paid for by the employee under any circumstances.
  • All of the H-1B fees, with the exception of premium processing, should not be paid by the employee. Stricter interpretation of cases and regulations by USCIS and DOL have resulted in fines and investigations when the employee is made to pay these H-1B costs.
  • Revocation fee ($300) is paid for by Rice and is required if the employee leaves Rice, involuntarily or voluntarily, before the end of their H1B visa end date. This fee also applies if the individual remains at Rice but changes status (e.g. moves from H‐1B to permanent resident).
  • Premium processing is available for approximately $1,700.
  • For Postdoctoral Research positions, there is a fund that may help pay for legal fees, which is sponsored by the Office of the Provost, but co‐administered through the Office of International Students & Scholars (OISS) and the General Counsel’s Office. Since the funds are limited, they are used on a first‐come, first‐served basis, and may not be used to pay for “premium processing”. For additional information, please contact Adria Baker in OISS (abaker@rice.edu).

Agency Involvement

  • Department of Labor (DOL) —governs wage, recruiting and compliance.
  • Foreign Labor Certification Data Center Online Wage Library determines prevailing wage for the area of employment.
  • United States Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) —adjudicates temporary employment based petitions, collects data and issues immigration benefits.
  • U.S. Embassies—issues entry and travel visas.
  • U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)—determine status eligibility at the U.S. port of entry.

Processing Time for Visa

  • Preparation for application – two to four weeks to gather information and complete all necessary forms. Requires information gathering from the individual as well as from the Rice department.
  • Application processing and review by government – four to six months (if “premium processing” is requested and the additional cost of approximately $1,700 is paid, USCIS will make their decision within 15 days).

When Employment Can Begin at Rice

  • If the individual is not currently working for Rice and this will be their 1st H‐1B visa (e.g. moving from F‐1 or J‐1 visa to H‐1B visa), they can begin employment when the Approval Notice is received by Rice from U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS). (Under certain circumstances they may be eligible to begin employment while using their prior status, please contact OISS for more information.)
  • If the individual is not currently working for Rice, but is coming to Rice directly from their previous employer where they had an H‐1B visa (this is known as “porting” the H‐1B to Rice), they can begin employment when USCIS receives the visa application and issues a Receipt Notice.
  • If the individual is currently a Rice employee and is moving from another work visa (e.g. J‐1, F‐1) to an H‐1B visa, they can begin employment when the Approval Notice is received by Rice from USCIS.(While the H-1B is pending, they may continue working until the end of previous work authorization through their existing J-1, F-1, etc. status.)
  • If the individual is currently working at Rice, has an H‐1B visa which is ending, and a visa extension is being requested, they can continue to work for Rice even after the current H‐1B expires for up to 240 days when USCIS receives the visa application and issues a Receipt Notice.

When Must an H‐1B Visa be Amended?

The H‐1B visa is filed and approved based on a specific job, job duties, job schedule (full-time or part-time), salary and work location.

If there is a “material” change to any of these factors, an H‐1B amendment may be required. The department should be in contact with Diana Garcia Acero (dmgarcia@rice.edu) in the Rice Human Resources Office as soon as a change is being considered.

Examples of some “material” changes that require an amended H‐1B before an individual can make the change include:

  • Move from full-time to part-time status (or vice versa)
  • Change in actual job duties (not funding) or adding additional work duties (e.g. teaching a course if teaching was not part of the original H‐1B application)
  • Changing work location (e.g. working in a lab within the TMC)
  • Decrease in salary

Amendments can take 3 to 4 weeks to process and cost approximately the same as a regular H‐1B minus the $500 anti‐fraud fee.

Depending on the change, the employee cannot begin to work under the new hours, duties, salary or work location until the amended H‐1B visa petition (Form I‐129) has been received by USCIS.

Terminating Visa

  • If an H‐1B employee (including postdocs) leaves Rice either voluntarily or involuntarily before the end of their H‐1B visa (not always the same as their Rice appointment period), Rice will have to pay the $300 revocation fee to have the H‐1B revoked.
  • If the employee is terminated involuntarily or is not reappointed through the end of their H‐1B visa end date, the employer must offer to pay for “reasonable return transportation” to the employee's home country.
  • This offer should be made in writing. If the individual declines return transportation, this also should be documented in writing.
  • Revocation of the H‐1B visa is sent by Rice’s outside immigrtion attorney to the Department of Labor and U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services, thus relieving Rice from further payment obligations and responsibilities for the H‐1B employee. Revocation of the H‐1B is necessary to limit payment obligations.
  • The H‐1B employee should be advised with as much notice as possible of their Rice end date in order to plan ahead for other employment opportunities, immigration options, etc.
  • In these situations, H‐1B employees should be directed to contact Adria Baker (abaker@rice.edu) to discuss other possible visa options.
5. Permanent Residency (PR) & PERM (Labor Certification / University-Sponsored PR) Fact Sheet

Permanent residency (PR) may be obtained in various ways – family sponsorship, political asylum, diversity lottery or employment based. Employment based (EB) permanent residency is divided into the following categories:

  • EB 1 for “Extraordinary or Outstanding Workers"
  • EB 2 for “Advanced Degreed Workers”
  • EB 3 for “Professional and Skilled Workers”

PERM is a labor certification process and is required for EB 2 & EB 3 categories. In essence these are university sponsored green cards.

PERM is a permanent labor certification issued by the Department of Labor (DOL) which allows an employer to hire a foreign worker to work permanently in the United States. For EB2 and EB3 cases, before the U.S. employer can submit an immigration petition to the Department of Homeland Security’s U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the employer must obtain an approved labor certification request (PERM) from the DOL’s Employment and Training Administration (ETA).

The DOL must certify to the USCIS that there are not qualified U.S. workers able, willing, qualified and available to accept the job at the prevailing wage for that occupation in the area of intended employment, and that employment of the alien will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of similarly employed U.S. workers. The job description cannot be tailored to the individual.

PERMs are filed electronically for quicker turn-around. Electronic filing requires one contact person for Rice to approve the forms. For Rice University, the single contact person is the Director of Recruitment in the Human Resources Office.

PERM requires

  • Employer sponsorship for a specific position
  • Prevailing wage determination
  • Attestation to Department of Labor (through proof of good faith recruitment)
  • Maintenance of a compliance file (five year retention period per case)
  • And is subject to audit from the DOL

Changes to PERM regulations effective July 16, 2007

  • Legal fees and recruitment costs associated with PERM must be paid by employer (Rice); foreign workers prohibited from paying fees/costs associated with PERM.
  • Enhanced penalties from DOL for violations of Labor Certification regulations

Costs/Fees (for Universities)

  • Employer must pay for all PERM legal fees and expenses, approximately $7,000
  • Estimated total costs are $9,000 to $12,000 including the PERM fees/expenses
  • Processing time is variable based on the employment category

Agency Involvement

  • Department of Labor (DOL)
  • Texas Workforce Commission (TWC)
  • U.S. Customs & Immigration Services (USCIS)
  • U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) – determines status eligibility at the U.S. port of entry
6. Impact on Faculty Recruitment

In order to maintain university compliance, all faculty hires must follow advertising requirements, and other considerations, when conducting any faculty search.

I. Advertising Requirements for All Faculty Searches

In addition to any current hiring requirements, place at least one print ad in a national professional journal. The print ad must include: 1) the job title of the position for which you are searching; 2) job duties; 3) minimum education required; 4) experience required; and 5) contact information for interested applicants that includes the name of the department and the university.

II. Other Considerations When an Offer is Made to a Foreign National

Applications for university-sponsored Permanent Residency (PR) must be filed within 18 months of the decision to make an offer to (not the hiring of) the candidate. Since filings take at least three months to prepare, the absolute deadline for initiating the PR application is therefore 15 months from the decision to extend a job offer. If a search yields an offer to a foreign national, the chair or dean should inform the candidate of this at the time of the informal offer if they might want university assistance in applying for permanent residency. You will need to then follow the procedures in this online manual, as appropriate.

Somewhere near the sentence in the offer letter talking about how the candidate needs to have necessary authorization to work in the U.S., we could add a sentence that says: “Should you later decide to apply for permanent resident status in the U.S., the University is prepared to assist you in the application process, and if you and Rice decide that a University-sponsored application is most prudent for your situation, Rice is prepared to devote financial and legal resources in pursuing the application.”

NOTE: Please be sure to follow the “Approved Law Firm Instructions” in this manual.

III. When Faculty Member wants to apply for Permanent Residency

In consultation with an immigration lawyer, the faculty member chooses the method of application. If an individually sponsored PR application is chosen, the academic department confirms that they will provide supporting documentation. If a university-sponsored PR application is needed, the academic department or school must agree to pay certain costs (approximately $7000) and must provide supporting documentation as requested by the law firm.

7. Procedures for Establishing or Extending an H-1B for Faculty at Rice

Initiating the H-1B Visa Process

  • New Faculty Member requests sponsorship for an H-1B Visa.
  • Department and faculty member consult with the Office of International Students & Scholars (OISS) to ensure that H-1B is the appropriate visa option and that the individual meets criteria.
  • Department finalizes details with faculty member regarding fees/costs (estimated and subject to change):
    1. Anti-Fraud Fee of $500 (only required for initial H-1B, does not apply with H-1B extensions)
    2. Legal Fee of $1600 - $2500 (depending on complexity of case)
    3. Filing Fee of $460 to USCIS
    4. Dependent H-4 filed with principal – Legal Fee of $500 and Filing fee for I-539 of $390 (one application covers spouse and all children under 21)
    5. Dependent H-4 filed alone – Legal Fee $500 and Filing fee for I-539 of $390 (one application covers spouse and all children under 21)
    6. Request for Premium Processing – Legal Fee of $250 and Filling Fee of $1440
    7. Misc. expenses for courier, copies etc. of estimated $40 - $75
    8. Revocation Fee of $300 (at the end of the H-1B)

*Please note that none of the above fees should be paid by the employee (with possibly the premium processing fee being the exception in some cases). Stricter interpretation of cases and regulations by USCIS and the Department of Labor (DOL) have resulted in fines and investigations when the employee pays these H-1B costs. Most importantly, it is mandatory under the statute that the $500 anti-fraud fee be paid by the employer. As mentioned, the premium processing fee might be an exception, and that the employee can pay this if the faster processing is something they would like to have for their personal benefit or convenience, and is not required by Rice (recommendation by Foster, LLP).

  • Department notifies Human Resources (HR) of need to sponsor for an H-1B by sending “Approval to Initiate or Extend H-1B Visa Application for Faculty & Staff” form signed by department chair/head along with a print-out of job description to Diana Garcia Acero (MS-92).
  • HR contacts pre-approved immigration attorney’s office and:
    1. Informs them of need to sponsor faculty member for H-1B.
    2. Confirms arrangements of fee/payment agreement (who is paying what).
    3. Provides necessary information for attorney to begin paperwork.

NOTE: Utilization of firms that have not been pre-approved need to be cleared through the General Counsel’s Office.

  • HR forwards to sponsoring department the “Export Control I-129 Compliance Form”. The hiring supervisor will fill out the form and sign it. The form should then be passed on to the department chair for review and signature and lastly to the dean for review and signature. Any questions that arise in regards to filling out the form should be directed to the Office of Research Compliance (exportcontrols@rice.edu).
  • After the “Export Control I-129 Compliance Form” has been completely filled out and signed by all the appropriate parties, it will be sent to Office of Research Compliance. Office of Research Compliance will complete the form based on how the form was answered by the department and sign it.
  • Office of Research Compliance will pass the form back to Human Resources, as it is important to do so because the form attests to Part 6 of the I-129 form. HR will make a copy and will forward the form to the immigration attorney’s office in order to complete the I-129 form. **H-1B paperwork that will need to be to submitted United States Customs & Immigration Services (USCIS) will be on hold until the “Export Control I-129 Compliance Form” is returned to Human Resources.**

The following steps will run concurrently with the previous steps.

Preparing Documentation to Support Labor Condition Application (LCA)

  • The immigration attorney contacts the faculty member to discuss details of the H-1B process. Immigration attorney has faculty member and department complete the employee information sheet and document checklist. Faculty member and department return information to attorney once completed.
  • Once all information is received from department and faculty member, the immigration attorney will obtain “prevailing wage” for job from the Texas Worksource.
  • Immigration attorney prepares and emails the Initiated Labor Condition Application (LCA) along with the Notice of Filing to Human Resources for review and approval. Included in the email will also be the obtained prevailing wage, which will be included in Public Access File.
  • Upon HR review/approval, the Notice of Filing LCA posting is placed in 2 conspicuous locations for 10 business days and HR proceeds to email immigration attorney’s office immediately after posting to confirm that the posting period has begun.
  • At the same time, HR will compile the Public Access File for applicant. It is required that the Public Access File is initiated as soon as notices are posted.
  • Included in Public Access File:
    • LCA Cover Pages
    • Initiated LCA (replaced by Certified LCA when available)
    • Wage rate, which is included in LCA
    • Description of Actual Wage System
    • Copy of prevailing wage and its source
    • Notices of Filing LCA (2) – when 10 day posting period is completed
    • Summary of benefits

Labor Condition Application Submitted to Department of Labor through iCert

  • Once the immigration attorney’s office receives the email from HR, they proceed to certify the LCA electronically through the Dept. of Labor’s iCert program. According to DOL regulations it may take 7-10 business days for an official decision to be made about the LCA.
  • The immigration attorney’s office will also finalize the H-1B petition packet and proceed to send it to HR for signatory review and signatures. **The immigration attorney’s office will hold off on sending the packet to Human Resources if the “Export Control I-129 Compliance Form” has not been returned. This will delay the processing time it takes to get the H-1B for the employee**
  • HR will:
    1. Review, approve and return signed H-1B petition packet and support letter (provided by immigration attorney’s office via email) to attorney’s office for filing with United States Customs & Immigration Services (USCIS).
      • Packet includes: G-28 – Notice of Entry of Appearance as Attorney (3 pages), I-129 – Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker (2), I-129 – H Supplement (2), I-129 – Data Collection Sheet (2), Statement of Support of H-1B Petition (2).
    2. Remove the LCA posting notices at appropriate time, sign the notices and add them to Public Access File.
  • The attorney’s office will file the LCA with USCIS attesting on behalf of the University that:
    1. H-1B employee will be paid at least the actual wage or “prevailing wage,” whichever is higher.
    2. The employment of the H-1B individual will not adversely affect the working conditions for other workers similarly employed.
    3. At the time of filing the LCA there are no layoffs, strikes, lockouts or work stoppages in the H-1B individual’s occupation.
    4. A copy of the LCA will be posted for 10 business days in two places on the employer’s premises.

Labor Condition Application is Certified

  • Once the LCA is certified, immigration attorney’s office will email it to HR. HR will print 4 copies, which are signed by Director of Recruitment. 2 copies are sent back to immigration attorney’s office; 1 copy is placed in Public Access File and 1 copy is given to Faculty member along with Acknowledgement of Receipt of LCA.
  • It is required to give a signed hardcopy to faculty member no later than the 1st day of employment. Faculty member must also sign Receipt and return it to HR as record that LCA was provided.

Approval Notice & Final Steps

  • United States Customs & Immigration Services (USCIS) issues “receipt of filing” to employer. (If H-1B is portable, I-9 can be completed at this time and employment can begin. If H-1B is being extended, the Receipt Notice automatically extends work authorization for 240 days.)
  • The Approval notice (I-797) is received in about 4-6 months (2-4 weeks if the H-1B was premium processed). The attorney’s office prepares the H-1B approval packet and sends it to HR. HR will get in contact with employee/department to inform that approval packet is ready and can be picked up. (If this is the initial H-1B for this person, I-9 can be completed at this time and employment can begin.)
  • Faculty member updates appropriate records with new visa status (e.g. I-9 Forms, tax status, immigration database, etc.) with HR, Payroll and OISS.

Termination of Employment

  • If Faculty member ends employment either voluntarily or involuntarily prior to H-1B visa end date (i.e. Approval Notice End Date), department needs to pay $290 revocation fee in order to terminate Rice’s payment obligations to the employee. Also, the $290 revocation fee needs to be paid if the employee changes visa status and the H-1B visa needs to be withdrawn.
8. Form – "Approval to Initiate / Extend H-1B Visa Application for Faculty"

Form – Approval to Initiate / Extend H-1B Visa Application for Faculty

9. Procedures for Permanent Residency (PR) & PERM (Labor Certification / University-Sponsored PR) for Faculty

General Process of Hiring (International/Current) Faculty

  • Department secures approval for hiring search (in the usual manner).
  • Hiring department ensures recruitment meets minimum standards that can be used later for a PR application (using PERM special handling) should an international be hired.
  • In addition to any current hiring requirements, the standards include:
    • Placing at least one advertisement in a recognized national, professional journal related to the field of scholarship. May be in print or online.
    • If placed online, the advertisement must be posted for a minimum of 30 days, must be viewable to the public without payment of subscription and/or membership charges, and documentation must include evidence of the start and end dates of the advertisement placement and the text of the advertisement.
    • The Print ad must include: 1) Job Title, 2) Job Duties, 3) Minimum Education required, 4) Experience required (if any), 5) Name of the University and that the location is in Houston, Texas, and 6) Contact Information.
  • Department Chair initiates paperwork, approvals, details, recommendations for appointment, PA form, etc.
  • Dean’s office requests permission from the Provost to make informal offer, writes Dean’s memo of approval to departmental chair, PA form signed.
  • Paperwork sent to the Affirmative Action Office.
  • With approval from Provost, informal offer letter sent to candidate. Returned offer signed by candidate sent to Provost. President sent official offer letter.
  • Department sends forms to Dean’s office for review and approval.

Faculty Requesting PR

  • (For new faculty) Faculty member requests PR processing based on PERM Special Handling within 15 months of the date of selection or sooner. PERM must be filed no later than 18 months after the date of selection and at least 3 months is required to prepare the application for filing. Candidate interested in PR is encouraged to consult with immigration law firm soon after hire.
  • OISS is informed of permanent residency request and advises department or visitor, as necessary.
  • Faculty member consults with pre-approved law firm. Utilization of firms that have not been pre-approved must to be cleared through the General Counsel’s office.
  • Law firm consults with employee and/or spouse to discuss which venue works best for applying for permanent residency, as well as the process (including PERM process, if appropriate).
    • If individual-sponsored PR is chosen, the academic department confirms that they will provide supporting documentation. Costs determined as to who will pay what, so as to communicate clearly with the law firm.
    • If university-sponsored PERM is needed, the academic department and the Dean/VP must agree to pay costs and provide supporting documentation.
  • Required – $7000 (approximate amount required by the Department of Labor – DOL) minimum Rice support of un-tenured, but tenure-track faculty for PR, despite how the faculty member decides to file for PR.
    • Special tax note: Rice financed support for PR applications based on employee-based sponsorship will be taxed at 30%, as IRS considers it to be income. Payment request must be noted as “self-sponsored PR” for processing.

Pre-PERM Process

  • Attorney sends employee questionnaire to employee and employer questionnaire to hiring department. Director of Recruitment is copied in email communication.
  • Chair & Dean/VP agree to sponsor and commit to paying fees associated with PERM application from departmental funds as stipulated by law and provide supporting documentation.
  • Hiring department completes the “Employer-Sponsored Permanent Residency for Faculty Approval Form” and chair signs approval. Form is sent to Director of Recruitment.*
  • HR Director of Recruitment will hold “Employer-Sponsored Permanent Residency for Faculty Approval Form” in pending file until DOL PERM confirmation email is received.

*Important Note: Without prior receipt of the “Employer-Sponsored Permanent Residency for Faculty Approval Form”, Director of Recruitment is unable to send approval to DOL, thus potentially dismissing the entire PR case.*

  • Attorney receives completed questionnaires from faculty member and from hiring department.
  • Attorney’s Office will also:
    • Prepare draft of ETA 9089 based on questionnaires and send it to hiring department for approval. Director of Recruitment is included in email communication to compare job description in Posting Notice.
    • Prepare Posting Notice and send it to Human Resources for Posting.
    • Prepare support letter and description of recruitment to department for review and signature.
  • Human Resources will post Posting Notice for 10 business days in the Human Resources office; after the posting period is done, the Director of Recruitment will sign the Posting Notice and send it back to Attorney’s office.
  • Copy of all previously completed documentation is sent to the Manager of Faculty Affairs in the Office of the Provost to go in faculty file.
  • When all legal requirements are complete, the immigration attorney’s office will submit the completed PERM Labor Certification (ETA 9089) to DOL electronically.

PERM Cert

  • If the PERM certification is not approved, hiring department and faculty member meets with OISS and attorney’s office to discuss other visa options.
  • If the PERM certification is approved, DOL sends email alert to Director of Recruitment to confirm that Rice is sponsoring this employee, so as to continue the process. ETA 9089 is “certified” (stamped) and returned to the attorney’s office.
  • If there are Visas Available:
    • If visa available in employee’s category, meaning priority date is current and there is no backlog, the attorney’s office prepares the I-140 form (Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker) and the I-485 form [(Adjustment of Status) employee & family] for concurrent filing. The I-140 is sent to Human Resources and the I-485 is sent to the employee.
    • HR reviews, approves and returns I-140 to immigration attorney’s office.
    • Employee reviews, approves and returns I-485 to immigration attorney’s office.
    • Immigration attorney’s office will send the I-140 and the I-485 to United States Customs & Immigration Services (USCIS) along with certified ETA Form 9089.
    • Employee awaits Permanent Resident (PR) card.
  • If there are no Visas Available:
    • If no visa is available in employee’s category, meaning priority date is not current, backlog exists and visa bulletin is showing unavailable, then the attorney’s office only prepares the I-140 form (Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker) and sends it Human Resources for review and approval.
    • HR will review and approve and send it back to immigration attorney’s office, which will proceed to file it with USCIS.
    • Employee and Immigration Attorney’s office will check on visa bulletin on a monthly basis until date is current.
    • Once priority date becomes current, immigration attorney’s office will prepare the I-485 and send it to the employee for review and approval. Once returned the I-485 is filed and sent to USCIS along with the Certified ETA 9089 form.
    • Employee awaits approval of I-485 and of Permanent Resident (PR) card. Length of wait depends on future movement of visa bulletin and USCIS’s processing time.

Permanent Residency Receipt

  • Upon receipt of PR card, employee must visit Human Resources Office to complete a new I-9 Work Authorization form.
  • Employee must also visit the Payroll Office and present their PR card in order to gain U.S. tax status.
  • If faculty member is not new to Rice, and is changing from a non-immigrant visa status, they must bring proof of PR to OISS so as to update nonimmigrant record.
10. Form – "Employee-Sponsored Permanent Residency for Faculty Approval"

Form – Employee-Sponsored Permanent Residency for Faculty Approval

11. Procedures for Establishing or Extending an H-1B for Postdocs at Rice

Initiating the H-1B Visa Process

  • Department requests sponsorship for an H-1B Visa.
  • Department and Postdoc consult with the Office of International Students & Scholars (OISS) to ensure that H-1B is the appropriate visa option and that individual meets criteria.
  • OISS determines whether University funds are available to pay for H-1B fees. If not, department finalizes with postdoc regarding fees/costs (estimated and subject to change):
    1. Anti-Fraud Fee of $500 (only required for initial H-1B, does not apply with H-1B extensions)
    2. Legal Fee of $1600 - $2500 (depending on complexity of case)
    3. Filing Fee of $460 to USCIS
    4. Dependent H-4 filed with principal – Legal Fee of $500 and Filing fee for I-539 of $390 (one application covers spouse and all children under 21)
    5. Dependent H-4 filed alone – Legal Fee $500 and Filing fee for I-539 of $390 (one application covers spouse and all children under 21)
    6. Request for Premium Processing – Legal Fee of $250 and Filling Fee of $1440 (this fee cannot not be paid by Rice Legal Funds)
    7. Misc. expenses for courier, copies etc. of estimated $40 - $75
    8. Revocation Fee of $300 (at the end of the H-1B)

*Please note that none of the above fees should be paid by the employee (with possibly the premium processing fee being the exception in some cases). Stricter interpretation of cases and regulations by USCIS and the Department of Labor (DOL) have resulted in fines and investigations when the employee pays these H-1B costs. Most importantly, it is mandatory under the statute that the $500 anti-fraud fee be paid by the employer. As mentioned, the premium processing fee might be an exception, and that the employee can pay this if the faster processing is something they would like to have for their personal benefit or convenience, and is not required by Rice (recommendation by Foster, LLP).

Department sends OISS the following:

  • The "Approval to Initiate or Extend H-1B for Postdocs" form. Must be completed and signed by the chair of the department.
  • An updated job description.
  • The Export Control form with original signatures from the PI, the department chair, the dean, and the research compliance officer. Any questions that arise in regards to filling out the form should be directed to the Office of Research Compliance (exportcontrols@rice.edu).
    Note: The Office of Research Compliance will pass the form to Human Resources, as it is important to do so because the form attests to Part 6 of the I-129 form. HR will make a copy and will forward the form to the immigration attorney's office in order to complete the I-129 form. **H-1B paperwork that will need to be submitted to United States Customs & Immigration Services (USCIS) will be on hold until the "Export Control I-129 Compliance Form" is returned to Human Resources.**
  • OISS will forward a copy of approval form along with job description to pre-approved immigration attorney's office and copies HR:
    1. Informs them of need to sponsor Postdoc for H-1B.
    2. Confirms arrangements of fee/payment agreement (who is paying what).

NOTE: Utilization of firms that have not been pre-approved need to be cleared through the General Counsel’s Office.

The following steps will run concurrently with previous steps.

Preparing Documentation to Support Labor Condition Application (LCA)

  • The immigration attorney contacts the Postdoc to discuss details of the H-1B process. Immigration attorney has Postdoc and department complete the employee information sheet and document checklist. Postdoc and department return information to attorney once completed.
  • Once all information has been received from OISS, department and Postdoc, the immigration attorney will obtain “prevailing wage” for job from the Texas Workforce Commission.
  • Immigration attorney prepares and emails the Initiated Labor Condition Application (LCA) along with the Notice of Filing to Human Resources for review and approval. Included in the email will also be the obtained prevailing wage, which will be included in Public Access File.
  • Upon HR review/approval, the Notice of Filing LCA posting is placed in 2 conspicuous locations for 10 business days and HR proceeds to email immigration attorney’s office immediately after posting to confirm that the posting period has begun.
  • At the same time, HR will compile the Public Access File for applicant. It is required that the Public Access File is initiated as soon as notices are posted.
  • Included in Public Access File:
    • LCA Cover Pages
    • Initiated LCA (replaced by Certified LCA when available)
    • Wage rate, which is included in LCA
    • Description of Actual Wage System
    • Copy of prevailing wage and its source
    • Notices of Filing LCA (2) – when 10 day posting period is completed
    • Summary of benefits

Labor Condition Application Submitted to Department of Labor through iCert

  • Once the immigration attorney’s office receives the email from HR, they proceed to certify the LCA electronically through the Dept. of Labor’s iCert program, According to DOL regulations, it may take 7-10 business days for an official decision to be made about the LCA.
  • The immigration attorney’s office will also finalize the H-1B petition packet and proceed to send it to HR for signatory review and signatures. **The immigration attorney’s office will hold off on sending the packet to Human Resources if the “Export Control I-129 Compliance Form” has not been returned. This will delay the processing time it takes to get the H-1B for the employee**
  • HR will:
    1. Review, approve and return signed H-1B petition packet and support letter (provided by immigration attorney’s office via email) to attorney’s office for filing with United States Customs & Immigration Services (USCIS).
      • Packet includes: G-28 – Notice of Entry of Appearance as Attorney (3 pages), I-129 – Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker (2), I-129 – H Supplement (2), I-129 – Data Collection Sheet (2), Statement of Support of H-1B Petition (2).
    2. Remove the LCA posting notices at appropriate time, sign the notices and add them to Public Access File.
  • The attorney’s office will file the LCA with USCIS attesting on behalf of the University that:
    1. H-1B employee will be paid at least the actual wage or “prevailing wage,” whichever is higher.
    2. The employment of the H-1B individual will not adversely affect the working conditions for other workers similarly employed.
    3. At the time of filing the LCA there are no layoffs, strikes, lockouts or work stoppages in the H-1B individual’s occupation.
    4. A copy of the LCA will be posted for 10 business days in two places on the employer’s premises.

Labor Condition Application is Certified

  • Once the LCA is certified, immigration attorney’s office will email it to HR. HR will print 4 copies, which are signed by Director of Recruitment. 2 copies are sent back to immigration attorney’s office; 1 copy is placed in Public Access File and 1 copy is given to the Postdoc along with Acknowledgement of Receipt of LCA.
  • It is required to give a signed hardcopy to the Postdoc no later than the 1st day of employment. Postdoc must also sign Receipt and return it to HR as record that LCA was provided.

Approval Notice & Final Steps

  • United States Customs & Immigration Services (USCIS) issues “receipt of filing” to employer. (If H-1B is portable, I-9 can be completed at this time and employment can begin. If H-1B is being extended, the Receipt Notice automatically extends work authorization for 240 days.)
  • The Approval notice (I-797) is received in about 4-6 months (2-4 weeks if the H-1B was premium processed). The attorney’s office prepares the H-1B approval packet and sends it to HR. HR will get in contact with employee/department to inform that approval packet is ready and can be picked up. (If this is the initial H-1B for this person, I-9 can be completed at this time and employment can begin.)
  • Postdoc updates appropriate records with new visa status (e.g. I-9 Forms, tax status, immigration database, etc.) with HR, Payroll and OISS.

Termination of Employment

  • If Postdoc ends employment either voluntarily or involuntarily prior to H-1B visa end date (i.e. Approval Notice End Date), department needs to pay $300 revocation fee in order to terminate Rice’s payment obligations to the employee. Also, the $300 revocation fee needs to be paid if the employee changes visa status and the H-1B visa needs to be withdrawn.
12. Form – "Approval to Initiate / Extend H-1B Visa Application for Postdocs"

Form – Approval to Initiate / Extend H-1B Visa Application for Postdocs

13. Procedures on Payment of Postdoc H-1Bs at Rice

In order to work at Rice under the H-1B (specialty work visa), a foreign national must be “sponsored” by Rice. Since the university H-1B processing is outsourced to a local immigration law firm, there are different procedures to follow, depending upon what kind of position this person will hold at Rice.

Postdoctoral Research positions – There is a fund to help pay for legal fees, which is sponsored by the Office of the Provost, but co-administered through the Office of International Students & Scholars (OISS) and the General Counsel’s Office. Since the funds are limited, they are used on a first-come, first-served basis, and not to be used to pay for premium processing. In sum, Rice legal funds will pay for the regular H-1B fees, as well as the additional $500 fee for anti-fraud and prevention, as long as funding does not run out.

Procedure:

Step 1: Have foreign visitor or academic department representative make an appointment (713-348-6095) to see Adria Baker or Andy Meretoja to:

  1. Determine if any of the legal fees are eligible to be paid through the Rice legal funds. Bills will be sent to OISS for payment. Exception: If premium processing is used, the invoice for that part of the cost will be sent either to the department or to the H-1B applicant, depending on who is responsible for the additional cost. The fee responsibility should be arranged before beginning to process the paperwork. This must be paid in advance for the H-1B process to continue.
  2. Examine if the H-1B is the appropriate visa, and that all reasonable non-immigrant options have been used, including exhausting five-years on the J-1 status.
  3. Begin paperwork to obtain proper approvals, which includes: 1) sending the supervisor a list of questions that need to be confirmed, 2) obtain a signature from the chair of the department that confirms the department does indeed want to sponsor the H-1B, and 3) that the H-1B visa holder will be working at Rice at least one entire year under the H-1B.
  4. Receive instructions on what paperwork is needed to prepare to take to the immigration lawyer.
  5. Obtain other immigration advice on timeframes, expectations, responsibilities, and other related matters.

Step 2: The H-1B applicant must respond to the immigration attorney's requests for information and documentation in a timely manner. Keep in communication with OISS as to the progress of your H-1B.

Step 3: Upon receipt of the H-1B approval, the applicant must pick up the original Approval Notice from Human Resources immediately, and schedule a check-in appointment with OISS.

Step 4: If the H-1B needs to be extended in order to work at Rice, start the procedures approximately 8 months before the expiration of the current H-1B status.

Special Notes:

  • Starting the application process 7-8 months prior to the requested H-1B start dates should typically allow enough time not to have to pay for premium processing (which is an expedited service).
  • Transferring an H-1B, or extending an already existing H-1B, will not typically require premium processing, given the “portability” and “240-day” regulations.
  • For Faculty, Lecturer, Research Scientist, Faculty Fellow & Staff positions – See sections 7. and 14. of this manual.

Summary of Fees for H-1B:

  • Approximately $2500 for regular H-1B processing.
  • $500 anti-fraud and prevention fee.
  • An additional cost of approximately $1700 for premium processing, if required and requested.
  • Additional fees to process dependents that need the H-4 visa.

Exceptions for Payment:

Any legal funds exceptions must be approved through an appeal process and requested in writing by supervisor. They may be addressed to Adria Baker (abaker@rice.edu).

14. Procedures for Establishing or Extending H-1B for Staff (including Researchers) at Rice

Initiating the H-1B Visa Process

  • Prospective or current employee requests sponsorship for an H-1B Visa.
  • Department and employee/applicant consult with the Office of International Students & Scholars (OISS) to ensure that H-1B is the appropriate visa option and that the individual meets criteria.
  • Department finalizes details with employee/applicant regarding fees/costs:
    1. Anti-Fraud Fee of $500 (only required for initial H-1B, does not apply with H-1B extensions)
    2. Legal Fee of $1600 - $2500 (depending on complexity of case)
    3. Filing Fee of $460 to USCIS
    4. Dependent H-4 filed with principal – Legal Fee of $500 and Filing fee for I-539 of $390 (one application covers spouse and all children under 21)
    5. Dependent H-4 filed alone – Legal Fee $500 and Filing fee for I-539 of $390 (one application covers spouse and all children under 21)
    6. Request for Premium Processing – Legal Fee of $250 and Filling Fee of $1440
    7. Misc. expenses for courier, copies etc. of estimated $175
    8. Revocation Fee of $300 (at the end of the H-1B)

*Please note that none of the above fees should be paid by the employee (with possibly the premium processing fee being the exception in some cases). Stricter interpretation of cases and regulations by USCIS and the Department of Labor (DOL) have resulted in fines and investigations when the employee pays these H-1B costs. Most importantly, it is mandatory under the statute that the $500 anti-fraud fee be paid by the employer. As mentioned, the premium processing fee might be an exception, and that the employee can pay this if the faster processing is something they would like to have for their personal benefit or convenience, and is not required by Rice (recommendation by Foster, LLP).

  • Department notifies Human Resources (HR) of need to sponsor for an H-1B by sending “Approval to Initiate or Extend H-1B Visa Application for Faculty & Staff” form signed by department chair/head along with a print-out of job description to Diana Garcia Acero (MS-92).
  • HR reviews job description and “Approval to Initiate or Extend H-1B Visa Application for Faculty & Staff” form. If there are any problems at this point with the job description, HR will work with the department to clarify job description and make sure it meets requirements for Labor Condition Application (LCA).
  • HR contacts pre-approved immigration attorney’s office and:
    1. Informs them of need to sponsor staff employee/applicant for H-1B.
    2. Confirms arrangements of fee/payment agreement (who is paying what).
    3. Provides necessary information for attorney to begin paperwork.

NOTE: Utilization of firms that have not been pre-approved need to be cleared through the General Counsel’s Office.

  • HR forwards to sponsoring department the “Export Control I-129 Compliance Form”. The hiring supervisor will fill out the form and sign it. The form should then be passed on to the department chair for review and signature and lastly to the dean for review and signature. Any questions that arise in regards to filling out the form should be directed to the Office of Research Compliance (exportcontrols@rice.edu).
  • After the “Export Control I-129 Compliance Form” has been completely filled out and signed by all the appropriate parties, it will be sent to Office of Research Compliance. Office of Research Compliance will complete the form based on how the form was answered by the department and sign it.
  • Office of Research Compliance will pass the form back to Human Resources, as it is important to do so because the form attests to Part 6 of the I-129 form. HR will make a copy and will forward the form to the immigration attorney’s office in order to complete the I-129 form. **H-1B paperwork that will need to be to submitted United States Customs & Immigration Services (USCIS) will be on hold until the “Export Control I-129 Compliance Form” is returned to Human Resources.**

The following steps will run concurrently with the previous steps.

Preparing Documentation to Support Labor Condition Application (LCA)

  • The immigration attorney contacts the staff employee/applicant to discuss details of the H-1B process. Immigration attorney has staff employee/applicant and department complete the employee information sheet and document checklist. Employee and department return information to attorney once completed.
  • Once all information is received from department and staff employee/applicant, the immigration attorney will obtain “prevailing wage” for job from the Texas Worksource.
  • Immigration attorney prepares and emails the Initiated Labor Condition Application (LCA) along with the Notice of Filing to Human Resources for review and approval. Included in the email will also be the obtained prevailing wage, which will be included in Public Access File.
  • Upon HR review/approval, the Notice of Filing LCA posting is placed in 2 conspicuous locations for 10 business days and HR proceeds to email immigration attorney’s office immediately after posting to confirm that the posting period has begun.
  • At the same time, HR will compile the Public Access File for applicant. It is required that the Public Access File is initiated as soon as notices are posted.
  • Included in Public Access File:
    • LCA Cover Pages
    • Initiated LCA (replaced by Certified LCA when available)
    • Wage rate, which is included in LCA
    • Description of Actual Wage System
    • Copy of prevailing wage and its source
    • Notices of Filing LCA (2) – when 10 day posting period is completed
    • Summary of benefits

Labor Condition Application Submitted to Department of Labor through iCert

  • Once the immigration attorney’s office receives the email from HR, they proceed to certify the LCA electronically through the Dept. of Labor’s iCert program. According to DOL regulations it may take 7-10 business days for an official decision to be made about the LCA.
  • The immigration attorney’s office will also finalize the H-1B petition packet and proceed to send it to HR for signatory review and signatures. **The immigration attorney’s office will hold off on sending the packet to Human Resources if the “Export Control I-129 Compliance Form” has not been returned. This will delay the processing time it takes to get the H-1B for the employee**
  • HR will:
    1. Review, approve and return signed H-1B petition packet and support letter (provided by immigration attorney’s office via email) to attorney’s office for filing with United States Customs & Immigration Services (USCIS).
      • Packet includes: G-28 – Notice of Entry of Appearance as Attorney (3 pages), I-129 – Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker (2), I-129 – H Supplement (2), I-129 – Data Collection Sheet (2), Statement of Support of H-1B Petition (2).
    2. Remove the LCA posting notices at appropriate time, sign the notices and add them to Public Access File.
  • The attorney’s office will file the LCA with USCIS attesting on behalf of the University that:
    1. H-1B employee will be paid at least the actual wage or “prevailing wage,” whichever is higher.
    2. The employment of the H-1B individual will not adversely affect the working conditions for other workers similarly employed.
    3. At the time of filing the LCA there are no layoffs, strikes, lockouts or work stoppages in the H-1B individual’s occupation.
    4. A copy of the LCA will be posted for 10 business days in two places on the employer’s premises.

Labor Condition Application is Certified

  • Once the LCA is certified, immigration attorney’s office will email it to HR. HR will print 4 copies, which are signed by Director of Recruitment. 2 copies are sent back to immigration attorney’s office; 1 copy is placed in Public Access File and 1 copy is given to staff employee/applicant along with Acknowledgement of Receipt of LCA.
  • It is required to give a signed hardcopy to staff employee no later than the 1st day of employment. Staff employee/applicant must also sign Receipt and return it to HR as record that LCA was provided.

Approval Notice & Final Steps

  • United States Customs & Immigration Services (USCIS) issues “receipt of filing” to employer. (If H-1B is portable, I-9 can be completed at this time and employment can begin. If H-1B is being extended, the Receipt Notice automatically extends work authorization for 240 days.)
  • The Approval notice (I-797) is received in about 4-6 months (2-4 weeks if the H-1B was premium processed). The attorney’s office prepares the H-1B approval packet and sends it to HR. HR will get in contact with employee/department to inform that approval packet is ready and can be picked up. (If this is the initial H-1B for this person, I-9 can be completed at this time and employment can begin.)
  • Staff employee/applicant updates appropriate records with new visa status (e.g. I-9 Forms, tax status, immigration database, etc.) with HR, Payroll and OISS.

Termination of Employment

  • If staff employee ends employment either voluntarily or involuntarily prior to H-1B visa end date (i.e. Approval Notice End Date), department needs to pay $300 revocation fee in order to terminate Rice’s payment obligations to the employee. Also, the $300 revocation fee needs to be paid if the employee changes visa status and the H-1B visa needs to be withdrawn.
15. Form – "Approval to Initiate / Extend H-1B Visa Application for Staff"

Form – Approval to Initiate / Extend H-1B Visa Application for Staff

16. Procedures for Permanent Residency (PR) & PERM (Labor Certification / University-Sponsored PR) for Staff

Requesting Employment Based Permanent Residency

  • Staff member requests sponsorship for permanent residency as soon as sponsorship need is known. An applicant might raise this issue during the hiring process; however, hiring manager/interviewers should NOT raise this question with applicants as this is not an appropriate question during the pre-hire period.
  • Department contacts a pre-approved law firm (copies Director of Recruitment) and discusses job and whether it is a job that can support PERM labor certification. Utilization of law firms that have not been pre-approved need to be cleared through the General Counsel’s Office.
  • Department & Dean/VP agrees to sponsor and commit to paying the fees associated with the PERM application as stipulated by law (20 CFR Part 656, DOL) from departmental funds. Any other financial commitments over and above the required fees are decided upon and noted in a written and signed memorandum which will be held within the department.
  • Department notifies HR of decision to sponsor employee for employment based permanent residency by completing the “Employer-Sponsored Permanent Residency for Staff Approval Form.” Form must be signed by department chair and sent to Director of Recruitment in Human Resources.

Pre- PERM Process

  • Attorney contacts the employee to discuss details of the permanent residency process.
  • Attorney sends employer questionnaire to Human Resources (Director of Recruitment) who will then forward the questionnaire to the sponsoring department for completion; once completed and approved by department chair/head it is sent to HR (Director of Recruitment) for approval along with copy of current job description. HR will review/approve and return to attorney’s office.
  • Simultaneously, attorney sends employee questionnaire to employee for completion.
  • Based on questionnaires, attorney completes and sends a draft of the Pre-Approval sheet for review to Human Resources (Director of Recruitment). This information provides basis for job posting and recruitment advertisements and establishes for DOL the basis of the job. HR will forward to department for their review and signature of department chair/head.
  • Department forwards form to HR for final review and approval. Form is then returned to attorney’s office to initiate PERM labor certification process.
  • Attorney’s office requests and receives prevailing wage information (based on info submitted in job description/posting details) from the Texas WorkSource.

PERM CERT (Testing of Labor Market)

  • Job is posted on RICEWorks for required period of time by the HR Recruiter; outside advertisements are placed by attorney’s office.
  • Immigration attorney’s office emails paper posting notice to HR; HR will post for 10 business days. After the posting period is done, the posting is removed and signed by Director of Recruitment.
  • Applications are received and forwarded to sponsoring department by the HR Recruiter via RICEWorks.
  • Sponsoring department completes the interview process [interviews all applicants that have met minimum requirements, compiles all required search documentation (interviewing summaries, applicant log summary, etc.) and sends to HR for approval].
  • HR reviews/approves and sends recruitment documentation to attorney’s office along with Posting Notice and Notice of Posting Verification Letter. Also included is a letter from HR attesting to financial support and offer of full time, regular employment for the individual being sponsored; and the completed ETA 9089 (Alien Employment Certification) form. At this time, HR will document the posting/requisition in RICEWorks as a PERM CERT labor testing situation and will cancel the posting.
  • Law firm submits the completed PERM Labor Certification packet (recruitment documents, applicant summary, ETA 9089, support letter, posting verification letter) to DOL for review.
  • HR (Director of Recruitment) will receive and respond to DOL PERM confirmation email regarding the university’s sponsorship of the employee.

Permanent Residency Processing

  • If the PERM is approved, the ETA 9089 Form is “certified” (stamped) and returned to the attorney’s office.
  • If there are Visas Available:
    • If visa available in employee’s category, meaning priority date is current and there is no backlog, the attorney’s office prepares the I-140 form (Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker) and the I-485 form [(Adjustment of Status) employee & family] for concurrent filing. The I-140 is sent to Human Resources and the I-485 is sent to the employee.
    • HR reviews, approves and returns I-140 to immigration attorney’s office.
    • Employee reviews, approves and returns I-485 to immigration attorney’s office.
    • Immigration attorney’s office will send the I-140 and the I-485 to United States Customs & Immigration Services (USCIS) along with certified ETA Form 9089.
    • Employee awaits Permanent Resident (PR) card.
  • If there are no Visas Available:
    • If no visa is available in employee’s category, meaning priority date is not current, backlog exists and visa bulletin is showing unavailable, then the attorney’s office only prepares the I-140 form (Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker) and sends it Human Resources for review and approval.
    • HR will review and approve and send it back to immigration attorney’s office, which will proceed to file it with USCIS.
    • Employee and Immigration Attorney’s office will check on visa bulletin on a monthly basis until date is current.
    • Once priority date becomes current, immigration attorney’s office will prepare the I-485 and send it to the employee for review and approval. Once returned the I-485 is filed and sent to USCIS along with the Certified ETA 9089 form.
    • Employee awaits approval of I-485 and of Permanent Resident (PR) card. Length of wait depends on future movement of visa bulletin and USCIS’s processing time.

Permanent Residency Receipt

  • Upon receipt of PR card, employee must visit Human Resources Office to complete a new I-9 Work Authorization form.
  • Employee must also visit the Payroll Office and present their PR card in order to gain U.S. tax status.
17. Form – "Employer-Sponsored Permanent Residency for Staff Approval"

Form – Employer-Sponsored Permanent Residency for Staff Approval

18. Termination of Employment Prior to the H-1B Visa End Date

If an employee working under an H-1B Visa ends employment either voluntarily or involuntarily prior to their H-1B Visa end date, the university must work with the immigration attorney to revoke the current H-1B effective with the employment termination date. It is important to do this in order to terminate Rice’s payment obligations to the employee. Per Department of Labor regulations, payment obligation continues for the entire period listed on the H-1B “Labor of Condition Application” (LCA), even if there is insufficient work for the employee. The method to end this obligation to pay is to revoke the current H-1B at the time the employee ends employment with Rice University.

For all H-1B employees (faculty, staff and postdocs), the following steps should be followed:

1) On the termination form, the department should indicate, by checking the appropriate box on the form, that the terminating employee is a current H-1B visa holder.

2) Human Resources will then contact the immigration attorney's office and notify them of the early ending date and the need to revoke the H-1B visa. The fee (approx. $300) for revoking the H-1B visa will be paid for by the department for faculty and regular staff, and the university funds for the postdocs (when the funds are available).

Important Note: For employees who are given involuntary departure from their employment at Rice, the department is required to offer to pay for "reasonable return transportation" to the employee's place of residence abroad. This offer, as well as the employee's response, should be documented in writing.

19. Who are the Rice Key Contacts for H-1B Processing?

Human Resources - 713-348-2514
Angela Lipari - alipari@rice.edu
Diana Garcia Acero - dmgarcia@rice.edu
Ally Slaughter - ally.slaughter@rice.edu

Office of International Students & Scholars - 713-348-6095
Adria Baker - abaker@rice.edu
Andy Meretoja - thm1@rice.edu

20. H-1B/PERM Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Acronyms & Abbreviations
    PERM - Program Electronic Review Management process
    LCA – Labor Condition Application
    PR – Permanent Residency
    H-1B – Non-immigrant Visa for Specialty (Professional) Workers
    I-9 – Employment Eligibility Verification form
    DOL – Department of Labor
    DHS – Department of Homeland Security
    USCIS – United States Citizenship & Immigration Services
    TWC – Texas Workforce Commission
    HR – Human Resources
    OISS – Office of International Students & Scholars
  2. Is PERM and Permanent Residency the same thing?
    No. PERM is part of the process for applying for Permanent Residency based on employer sponsorship. Permanent Residency is an immigration status and it may be achieved through different means (family-based, employer sponsorship, self-sponsorship, etc).
  3. Can departments have employees pay back the university for PERM processing if they do not stay a specific length of time?
    No. The PERM costs, that the employer is responsible for, can only be paid for by the employer.
  4. Can the department ask the applicant to indirectly pay the cost of filing?
    No. Rice must incur the costs for advertisement, recruitment, filing, and legal fees.
  5. What is the cost of processing an H-1B?
    Approximately $2500 – where $500 of it is the anti-fraud fee that must be paid for by the department. Furthermore, the immigration attorney's current recommendation is that the employer pays for the entire H-1B cost, with the exception of premium processing, which may be paid for by the employee.
  6. Does the department have to pay the H-1B $500 anti-fraud fee per filing?
    No. It is only required for the initial H-1B. It is not required when extending an H-1B.
  7. If departments are responsible for the costs involved with processing H-1Bs and PERM permanent residency applications, where are those funds supposed to come from?
    It is advisable to speak with your Dean’s office about funding for H-1B and PERM applications, as departments will need to build these funds into their budgets.
  8. How would I know if the applicant needs an H-1B sponsorship?
    After recruitment, interviews, and near selection you would be able determine if the applicant would need H1B sponsorship. Also, keep in mind that there is a question on RiceWorks application that indicates if an applicant needs sponsorship.
  9. When does the H-1B or PERM processing start?
    The process for an H-1B or PERM may start after an offer has been made, however the department should already be talking to OISS about the different visa options when considering the hiring of foreign nationals.
  10. How long does the H-1B process take?
    New H-1B visa processing can take 5 – 7 months for processing (3 – 5 weeks, if premium processing is used). A current H-1B visa holder at a different employer may be able to use the “H-1B visa portability” to begin working at Rice very quickly – this process only takes about 2 – 3 weeks.
  11. When do you change to Permanent Residency while on an H-1B visa?
    An individual may begin the Permanent Residency process at any time while on an H-1B visa, however it is strongly recommended that the different Permanent Residency options be examined by the 4th or 5th year on H-1B at the latest.
  12. How long do you have to be on the H-1B visa in order to begin the PERM process?
    Merely one day; since H-1B has dual immigrant intent.
  13. When processing PERM, do I have to hire a more qualified candidate if one is found during the labor market testing?
    No. The new candidate does not have to be hired in place of the current employee. However, the current employee’s PERM process must stop, as it would no longer meet the requirements of PERM. Other visa options and permanent residency options would have to be pursued instead.
  14. During PERM, can an employee continue to work prior to the Permanent Residency (“green card”) approval?
    Yes. Discussions with the attorney will determine the best way to continue work eligibility during the Permanent Residency process.
  15. Is an employee of Rice University eligible to keep their Permanent Resident status if they should leave Rice?
    Yes. Their PR status is not restricted to their employment at Rice.
  16. How long does the PERM and Permanent Residency process take?
    The time is variable depending on the type of employment and the employment based category of the application. The immigration attorney can advise on the specifics of each case, but the process can take from 2 to 6+ years.
  17. What is the visa of choice prior to applying for PERM?
    H-1B is usually the visa of choice, because it provides the dual intent options.
  18. Is there any way to expedite the PERM process?
    No. Premium processing is only an option for the H-1B visa applicants.
  19. Will the job description posting notices be mailed to Human Resources?
    Yes. According to the process, HR will receive the approved description and in turn post the position in two different locations.

21. Frequently Asked Questions when Hiring a Foreign National as a Rice Faculty Member

  1. If our final candidate is a foreign national, what should we do first?
    Consult with the Office of International Students & Scholars (OISS) to discuss options for visa sponsorship and permanent residency applications.
  2. Can I ask a faculty candidate if they will need visa or permanent residency sponsorship?
    Yes, you can. You cannot ask any candidate what their citizenship status is or what their home country is. You can ask if they are legally authorized to work in the U.S. and if they will need current or future sponsorship for visa status or permanent residency.
  3. How much does it cost to sponsor a faculty member for permanent residency?
    This is a difficult question to answer as it depends on which permanent residency application process the faculty member pursues. Total costs for employer sponsored permanent residency for the faculty member (and not dependents) can range from approximately $8,500 to $12,000. The part that must be paid for by Rice depends again on which process is chosen but can range anywhere from $0 to $7,000. Please note that oftentimes it is difficult for foreign faculty to get permanent residency right away. Most commonly they have an H-1B and then transfer into permanent residency. This could increase the total visa cost by $2,500 - $5,000.
  4. What are the university resources for visa related expenses, i.e., start-up funds, and/or discretionary research funds?
    Some schools at Rice have very clear guidelines, and others address this issue on a case-by-case basis. Please consult your school dean and/or department chair. In general, new faculty members are allowed reimbursement for their part of the costs from their own start-up funds. G and D funds may be used, but R fund usage is dependent upon the sponsor’s policy.
  5. How can we avoid misunderstandings and disputes after the candidate is hired about visa-related expenses?
    These matters should be thoroughly discussed with the department chair, and should be spelled out in the dean’s informal offer letter. There is one exception to this: arrangements regarding trailing spouses and families should be discussed, but not be part of the offer letter.
  6. How soon should we begin the permanent residency application for a foreign national faculty hire?
    The permanent residency application process and amount of time left on the faculty member's current visa will impact how quickly the process should be initiated. However, the discussion regarding options for permanent residency should begin immediately after the offer has been accepted. This is true because one of the "surest" paths to permanent residency (PERM Special Handling) for new faculty members requires that the application be filed within 18 months of the final offer letter. If the PERM Special Handling application process is chosen, work on the case must begin immediately.
  7. Is there any additional special guidance about the PERM process that we should be aware of?
    For faculty PERM process, here are the main things in regard to timing:
    -- an ad has to be placed in a recognized, national, professional journal and if the ad is online it must stay posted for a minimum of 30 days.
    -- if a foreign national that needs PR sponsorship through faculty PERM (aka PERM Special Handling) is hired, the PERM application has to be submitted to DOL within 18 months of the date of the final offer letter (defined at Rice as the president's offer letter). Rice’s rule of thumb is to try to get all the work done within 15 months of the offer letter to allow for filing times and other unexpected issues.
    -- keep copies of all ads, job offer letters, CVs of applicants, reasons for not selecting candidates, etc.
  8. May I see sample examples of advertisements (or general “boiler-plate" language we can use for our Assistant Professor job postings)?
    We recommend you consult your Dean’s office, as they should have examples for your school.
  9. Can I ask a non-permanent resident candidate about their spouse or dependents needing immigration assistance? What if the candidate brings up the subject during the interview process?
    No. You are not allowed to ask anything about their families or even marital status. Keep the interview just about the candidate and the position. If they bring up the subject, refer them to your department chair for that discussion.
  10. (For Department Chairs) When negotiating with the top candidate, what guidelines does the university have to support visa-related costs?
    There is no centralized policy. You are encouraged to check with your school’s deans office, as many have general guidelines and practices. However, just as salary is negotiated, visa-related costs are usually handled on an individual basis. There are many variables that affect the proper visa type for each individual hire, OISS can assist in discussing with you and the new faculty hire what might be the most appropriate visa status options.
  11. Which visa status is used for foreign faculty hires?
    There are a few common visa types: H-1B, O-1 and permanent residency (“green card”). However, each case is different, and especially if someone is already on a non-immigrant visa status in the U.S. Transitioning into one of these visa types takes special care, when moving from one non-immigrant visa type to another. You are encouraged to contact OISS to discuss this. If you are bringing your new faculty hire directly from abroad, the most common visa track would be to come on an H-1B and then apply for permanent residency via the labor certification (PERM) process.
  12. How long does it take to get permanent residency?
    The permanent residence petition process time is highly variable depending on country of origin, petition type, and possibility of audit. In addition, many individuals will choose to stay on their current visa (H-1B, O-1, etc.) and not begin the permanent residency process immediately.
  13. Can the international hire just get permanent residency first, without having to go through the costs and laborious process of an H-1B?
    Usually, given the time it takes to apply for permanent residency, it is difficult to get permanent residency directly, without being on an H-1B first.