H-1B Specialty Occupation

SDSU supports H-1B visas for tenured and tenure-track faculty who require authorization to work in the United States. Faculty members disclose this at the time of hire, with an “Employment Authorization Form” included in the offer letter packet.

The H-1B visa allows faculty to work for three years (up to six with extension). During this initial three year time period, SDSU pursues “Labor Certification Application” (LCA) which then enables the faculty member to apply for permanent status in the US (via I-140). Academic units are responsible for the cost of LCA, while the faculty member is responsible for costs of initiating the I-140. Many faculty members retain Eng & Nishimura for this process. Costs for filing the I-140 range from $4500 - $6000 and are borne by the faculty member.

The entire process requires careful and prompt attention by the faculty member, especially as new faculty members may encounter a variety of individualized obstacles in seeking an H-1B, including the “two-year home rule”, outstanding technical issues or errors in past J-1 or H-1B filings, etc.

Resolving outstanding issues that create obstacles in obtaining the H-1B is the responsibility of the individual faculty member and may require additional legal guidance, or pursuit of authorization to work in another category, eg., O-1. SDSU does not cover costs beyond the H-1B and LCA process.

Timeline of Faculty Member Responsibility

The US Immigration system is highly complex and requires close attention. Faculty members are expected to monitor their own immigration process and answer all communications from their attorneys or SDSU promptly. O-1, I-140, and I-485 filings are the responsibility of the individual faculty member.

Offer date–ASAP

Return Employment Authorization Form and H-1B Visa Sponsorship Request; understand the projected costs of I-140 filing and make a plan for paying them.

August 1

If H-1B not yet issued, contact Chair / Dean.

Year 2–Beginning of fall semester

Check on LCA; retain attorney; initiate I-140.

Year 3–Beginning of fall semester

Check on I-140; initiate I-485 and EAD; assess H-1B extension need.

H-1B Petition

Legal Services (including USCIS filing fee, USCIS fraud detection and protection fee, and postage) by designated CSU law firm Eng & Nishimura

$2360 (increasing to $2680 April 1)
(increase reflects April 1 change in USCIS filing fee from $460 to to $780)

Employer must pay

USCIS premium processing, if recommended by Eng & Nishimura

If recommended by Eng & Nishimura due to timing of offer (typically, after February 1), $2500; increasing to $2805 effective February 26. Employer or employee must pay.

Dependent filing fees (H-4)


Employee must pay

(Necessary if employee does not take immediate action on I-140 or encounters delays)

Legal Services (including filing and postage) by designated CSU law firm


Employer must pay

USCIS premium processing

Unnecessary if extension filed 6 months prior to expiration

Dependent filing fees (H-4)


Employee must pay

Traveling during your H-1B status

While your H-1B approval might be valid, entry into the U.S. is generally not allowed until 10 days before your official start date. This applies even if your start date was delayed due to unforeseen circumstances.

Entering earlier could be misconstrued by USCIS (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services) as visa fraud or misrepresentation. To avoid any issues, plan your arrival for no earlier than 10 days prior to your employment commencement.

Entering the U.S. before the H-1B start date using a visitor visa (B1/B2) or visa waiver program (ESTA) is allowed. However, there are important points to consider:

  1. Double Entry Requirement: Entering on a different visa requires departing and re-entering the U.S. with your H-1B visa stamp at least 10 days before your start date.
  2. CBP Officer Discretion: Even with a valid H-1B visa stamp, a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer has the authority to cancel visas deemed inappropriate or unnecessary. While not illegal, traveling on another visa before your H-1B start date could raise questions with CBP.

If your trip is short (30 days or less), you might be able to return to the US with your expired visa. This is called Automatic Visa Revalidation.

However, it's important to remember that Automatic Visa Revalidation is not guaranteed. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has the final say on whether you're admitted.

You will need to take the following documents:

  • Your passport
  • Your I-94 card, which you will turn in when you leave the country. If you have an electronic I-94 instead of a physical I-94 card, you do not need to turn anything in.

We recommend taking the following documents, too:

  • A recent letter from your department that confirms your continued employment
  • A photocopy of your H-1B Approval Notice (Form I-797)
  • A photocopy of your H-1B petition

Check your passport, H-1B Approval Notice (Form I-797), and H-1B visa stamp to ensure that they have not expired. If your passport will expire within six months, we recommend renewing it. If your visa stamp will expire while you are abroad, you will need to visit a U.S. consulate for an interview and get a new H-1B visa stamp to return to the United States.

Traveling internationally? Visa requirements can vary, so be prepared:

Check visa requirements before your trip, even for layovers. Some countries require visas for anyone who transits through their airports.

U.S. Department of State travel website.

Obtaining a new visa stamp abroad can be time-consuming due to security checks. Factor in potential wait times of six weeks or more when planning international travel with your department.

Permanent Resident (Green Card)

Legal Services by designated CSU law firm

$2500 Employer must pay
Faculty members are responsible for initiating this process as soon as H-1B is received. Many faculty members retain CSU-designated firm Eng & Nishimura for this process.

Fee Amount (approx.)


Who Must Pay


Immigration Petition (I-140), including attorney’s fees and premium processing

Faculty Member

Frequently Asked Questions

The H-1B visa is an employer-sponsored nonimmigrant visa classification which allows foreign nationals to work in a specialty occupation with the employer for up to six years. At SDSU, only tenured/tenure-track faculty are eligible for this visa classification.

You may ask if the candidate is eligible to work in the U.S. However, keep in mind you that cannot directly ask about their native-born or naturalized status. If your top candidate is a foreign national, you will be able to know if this is the case or not when the candidate completes the Employment Eligibility Form. See the Tenured/Tenure-Track Faculty Hiring page for more information.

Yes. In order to request an H-1B, SDSU must file an H-1B petition with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) office, and SDSU academic units cover the cost of the filing.

You may be able to transfer to SDSU if you are still within the allowable 6 year maximum allowed in the H-1B visa classification. Note that the H-1B status is employer specific. As such, SDSU would need to file an H-1B change of employer petition on your behalf. Note that Faculty Advancement will need to review your case prior to confirming whether you are eligible to transfer to SDSU.

SDSU will retain an attorney to assist with preparing and filing the H-1B petition. Additional information will be provided in the offer of employment letter.

H-1B visa holders may bring their spouse and children with them when they come to the U.S. Note that only children under 21 years of age may accompany the H-1B to the US. The appropriate dependent visa is the H-4 visa.