H-1B Basic Requirements

Basic Requirements for H-1B Status at UC Berkeley

The list below provides a quick overview of some the the requirements and limitations of the H-1B status at UC Berkeley.

  • Employer-sponsored. The H-1B petition must be filed by the employer, rather than the employee.
  • Professional level. The position offered must require the skills and services of a professional and the worker must have the professional credentials to fill it. 
  • Education Level. The minimum educational level acceptable is a bachelor's degree in the field of the proposed employment. 
  • Employer-Employee Relationship.  The employment relationship must be defined by contract or employment offer letter, which specifies the terms of employment, such as job title and duties, dates, salary, and benefits offered. 
  • Position, salary, location, and employer-specific. Changes in the terms and conditions of the employment after approval require filing a new or amended H-1B petition.
  • Wages. The employer must pay a regular salary to the H-1B. Wages must be reported to the IRS as earnings and must be subject to federal, state and local payroll tax deductions, and to FICA ("Social Security") deductions.
  • Time Limits. An employee is allowed to hold H 1B status for a total of up to six years. An employer may request up to three years on the initial H-1B petition and extensions may be requested for a maximum period of three years. Time spent outside of the U.S. may be "recaptured" if the absence is documented and thereby would not count towards the six year limit. After working in the U.S. in H-1B status for six years, an H-1B employee can become eligible for another six-year period if s/he remains outside the U.S. for one year or more. Certain individuals with pending Permanent Residency petitions may be eligible for extensions beyond 6 years. Consult with a BIO advisor at h1b@berkeley.edu.
  • Extensions. The process for extending H-1B status is identical to a new H-1B status, subsequent H-1B status, or amended H-1B status due to a change in employment. It also involves a similar cost to the employer. 
  • Dependents. Spouses and children under the age of 21 are eligible for H-4 status. H-4 Dependents are not allowed to accept employment except in limited situations. For more information please visit the USCIS website.
  • Return Transportation. The hiring unit must agree to pay return airfare for the applicant and any H-4 dependents if the department terminates the employment before the H-1B approval expires. This is not required in case of voluntary termination initiated by the employee.
  • Dual Intent of H-1B Status. The H-1B allows for the possibility of applying for an immigrant visa in the future. The intent to remain permanently in the U.S. will not jeopardize the H-1B nonimmigrant status.
  • J-1 Two-Year Home Country Physical Presence Requirement.  An employee who has been in J-1 or J-2 status and is subject to the Two-year Home Country Physical Presence requirement, must either satisfy this requirement by returning to his/her home country for two years, or by obtaining a waiver of this requirement before being eligible for H-1B status.  The waiver process can take from three to twelve months.