H-1B Specialty Worker

The H-1B category is designated for individuals coming to the United States to perform work in a “specialty occupation”. A specialty occupation is defined as a position that “requires theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge and attainment of a baccalaureate degree or higher degree or its equivalent in the specialty occupation as a minimum requirement”.  Learn more about H-1B sponsorship at Princeton through the navigation below.


Princeton commonly uses the H-1B category for Dean of Faculty appointments (e.g.—research associates and tenure-track faculty positions), as well as Human Resources appointments that are eligible for visa sponsorship (e.g.—Senior Research Specialist, Research Specialist II).
Those holding a Princeton appointment may be eligible for H-1B visa status if the individual will be employed in a specialty occupation, and if the individual meets the minimum qualifications for the position.
J-1 visa holders are not eligible for the H-1B visa if they are subject to the two-year home country residence requirement and have not yet received a waiver of this requirement.


In general, H-1B petitions may be approved for up to 3 years at a time, and 6 years total. Time spent outside the U.S. during the duration of an approved petition may be recaptured. Princeton H-1B holders must be employees of and paid by Princeton.  It is not possible to file an H-1B petition for scholars supported in whole or in part by personal funds, fellowships, or outside sponsors.

A one-time grace period of up to 60 days may be granted to H-1B holders whose employment ends earlier than the approval period.  For more information, contact your scholar immigration advisor.


It is important that you are aware of your responsibilities in maintaining your legal visa status during your stay in the U.S.  Failure to maintain your visa status could result in accrual of unlawful presence time and severe sanctions, including a loss of your legal status in the U.S.

H-1Bs are only authorized to work for employers that have obtained approved H-1B petitions and only under the terms and conditions of their approved H-1B petitions. If there are any material changes in the terms of employment (e.g., job duties, full-time to part-time, change of location) an amended H-1B petition may have to be filed. Please consult with the Davis International Center if there will be changes to your employment situation.
H-1Bs are required to report a change of address to immigration within 10 days of obtaining an address or moving to a new address. Changes of address are reported to the USCIS by filing Form AR-11 on-line or by mail.
H-1Bs are allowed to receive reimbursement for transportation and reasonable, incidental living expenses associated with activities considered to be incidental to employment at Princeton University (e.g., incidental lectures, attending a conference). H-1B holders may not be paid a wage or salary or derive a monetary or other material gain from these types of activities. Honorarium is not permitted in H-1B status.  


H-1B holders seeking entry to the U.S. after travel abroad are required to present the I-797 H-1B approval notice and may be asked to present a copy of the I-129 petition. The Davis IC or its authorized representative gives these to you when your case is initially approved.

If traveling outside the U.S., you must almost always have a valid visa to return to the U.S. Please confirm with your Davis IC advisor beforehand if you think your travel plans are an exception to this rule. If your visa has expired, you will need to apply for a new visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad. You cannot extend your visa while in the U.S. There is no place/office in the U.S. to apply for a new visa. Be sure to check the website of the Embassy or Consulate where you will apply for the new visa as procedures at Consulates change over time. You should also carry documentation of your salary at Princeton (e.g.—a copy of appointment letter, pay statements). 

You should be readmitted to the U.S. until the expiration date of the H-1B Approval Notice. Your I-94 information should note a corresponding end date. If you are admitted to the U.S. for a different period of time, you should report this to the Davis IC so that we can assist you in getting this corrected. 


Spouses and unmarried children up to the age of 21 qualify for H-4 dependent status. H-4 visa holders may study in the United States, but are not permitted to work in the United States and are therefore not eligible to obtain Social Security Numbers. A few exceptions to this rule apply; if you think that your dependent may qualify for employment authorization, please contact your Davis IC advisor.


Once an offer is approved and all required documentation is received from the intended H-1B employee, the Davis IC processes the H-1B petition.  In most cases, Davis IC processing can be done within a week if the case is time sensitive.  Even so, H-1B petitions can require up to 4 months processing time for the Department of Labor and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
Once the approval notice is received from USCIS, it is sent to the H-1B beneficiary.  If outside the U.S., the individual must make a visa appointment at a U.S. Consulate or Embassy and appear for the interview/appointment in order to have the visa issued. Some individuals will have to undergo additional security clearances before a visa can be issued that may take weeks or months.


Princeton appointments must be extended before any H-1B extensions can be approved or processed. The Davis IC routinely notifies departments that the H-1B status of appointees is expiring about 3-4 months before the expiration date. This should give your department adequate time to process an appointment extension through the Office of the Dean of the Faculty and for the Davis IC to extend your H-1B stay.