Hiring a Foreign National

If you are hiring a foreign national  who is not a US permanent resident, the employee will need sponsorship through the University in one of the following visa categories below:

Overview of H1B Temporary Worker Classification-
Request H1B Processing for a New or Current Employee

TN for Temporary Workers from Canada or Mexico
J-1 Exchange Visitor
Filing for Legal Permanent Residency (Green Card)

 

 H-1B Temporary Worker Classification

The H-1B classification is an employment-based immigration status established by US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to employ international employees with specialized training.  Because of the complicated and time consuming nature of an H-1B application, the H-1B classification is generally only considered a viable category for long-term, full-time employment if the J-1 classification is not an option.  The H1b classification is employer specific, employees who hold an H1b from another institution will still require H1b sponsorship through the University of Maine.

Eligibility:  

  • The position must require a minimum of a Bachelor’s degree in a specialized area and must have been advertised as such.
  • The prospective employee must have attained the required degree or the equivalent in a closely related field at or by the time of the petition filing.
  • The position must meet the prevailing and actual wage requirements set by the Department of Labor
  • A formal offer of employment must have been made to the prospective employee.
  • The prospective employee must not be subject to the 212(e) home residency requirement as a result of past participation in the J-1 Exchange Visitor Program.  If subject to 212(e) then the prospective employee must obtain a waiver of the requirement from the Department of State before becoming eligible for H1b.

Processing:

  • OIP will process requests for H1b visas once ALL the required information is submitted by the hiring department and the prospective employee.
  • Standard processing times at USCIS for an H1b visa is 6-9 months.  In most cases it will be necessary to pay an additional $1440 for the USCIS Premium Processing Service.
  • Processing timeline from start to finish can vary, please see summary of fees and timeline below.

Fees: 

  • OIP will charge the department a $1200 processing fee for each H1b application
  • USCIS charges a filing fee of $460 and an anti-fraud fee of $500 for all new applications (extensions exempt from anti-fraud fee)
  • USCIS charges $1440 for premium processing which is required for most new petitions and some extensions.
  • Checks for the associated USCIS fees will be requested by OIP and charged to the department’s account.  By law, ALL fees associated with H1b visa processing must be paid by the employer.
  • Additional fees may be charged if a Requests for Further Evidence (RFE) is issued by USCIS.
  • Summary of fees and processing timeline can be found here.

Follow Up:

  • Once the H-1B employee arrives in the US, they must report to the OIP within three days from the start of employment.
  • The H-1B authorization only allows for employment in the position specified on the original H-1B application submitted to USCIS. The department member supervising the international scholar must contact the OIP to initiate an amended petition prior to any changes to the employee’s activities including, but not limited to, changes in employment, remuneration, location of employment, duration of appointment, change in immigration status and termination of activity.
  • If the University terminates the employment of the foreign national employee prior to the end date of the H1b visa, the University must adhere to several requirements set by the Department of Homeland Security.  Please contact the Office of International Programs for more information.

H1b Extension:

Request for an extension of an employee’s H1b status should be initiated 6 months prior to the expiration of the current period of H1b.

Frequently Asked Questions-click here

The J-1 Exchange Visitor category can be a low-cost option for Post-doctoral and other fixed length positions.  Processing time for a DS2019, the USCIS form required for the prospective employee’s application for a J-1 visa, is also significantly shorter.  However, there are some restrictions on both the employee and the employer that should be considered before opting for this category.J-1 Exchange Visitor

Eligibility:

  • The position must require at least a Bachelor’s degree
  • The prospective employee must have the required degree
  • The prospective employee must not have held J-1 status in the Research Scholar category within the last 24 months
  • The prospective employee must have health insurance that meets certain standards set by the Department of State.  The insurance plan available to UMS employees meets most of these requirements but the employee or department will need to purchase a low-cost supplemental plan for evacuation and repatriation coverage.
  • The prospective employee must document that they have sufficient English proficiency to be able to adequately perform day to day activities in the workplace and the community.

Processing:

  • The hiring department must complete the forms and upload the required documentation to the J-1 Exchange Visitor portal
  • OIP will contact the prospective employee to request additional information
  • Once all required information is submitted, OIP will issue the DS2019 to the foreign national so that application for a J-1 visa can be made at a US Consulate Abroad.

Fees:

  • OIP will charge a $100 processing fee for each J-1 Exchange Visitor application
  • The prospective employee will be required to pay a SEVIS fee of $180 to the Department of Homeland Security and costs associated with their visa application at the US Consulate.

Follow up:

  • The J-1 Exchange Visitor must enter the US no later than 30 days after the start date listed on the DS2019.  If the hiring department knows of a delay in the arrival of the employee, someone should contact OIP as soon as possible to request a deferral of the program start date and issuance of a new DS2019.
  • The J-1 Exchange Visitor must report to OIP as soon as possible after arrival.  Please be sure to schedule an appointment with Sarah Joughin as part of the employee’s on-boarding.
  • The hiring department has several responsibilities mandated by the Department of State.  Please review and adhere to the responsibilities listed on the J-1 Exchange Visitor Request page.

Frequently Asked Questions-click here

TN-

TN status can be a short term, low-cost option with quick processing time for departments hiring citizens from Canada or Mexico.

Eligibility:

  • Prospective employee must be a citizen of Canada or Mexico
  • The position must qualify under 8 CFR 214.6 which outlines the NAFTA agreement between the US and Canada.  Click here to view the list.
  • The prospective employee must hold the necessary degree or license required for the particular job category as set for the in the regulation above.
  • The prospective employee must present at a US port of entry (Canadians) or a US Consulate (Mexicans) with a letter from the Office of International Programs to apply for TN status.

Processing:

  • To request a TN letter from OIP, the hiring department must submit the following to umaineimmigration@maine.edu:   a) Appointment letter or form which includes start and end dates of employment, salary and  brief job description; b) prospective employee’s CV or resume.
  • OIP will issue the letter to the foreign national with instructions on how to apply for TN status at a port of entry or US Consulate.

Fees:

  • There are currently no fees for TN processing.

Follow Up:

  • The foreign national employee arrives in the US, they must report to OIP within 3 days  of the start of employment.
  • The department is responsible for notifying OIP if the employment is terminated

Extension:

  • Requests for TN extension letters should be initiated at least one month prior to the expiration date of the current TN.
  • An updated letter or form with salary and employment date information should be submitted to umaineimmigration@maine.edu

Frequently Asked Questions-click here

Filing for Legal Permanent Residency (Green Card)

Foreign nationals hired by the University of Maine in a regular on-going position require institutional sponsorship for an employment visa.  Typically the employee enters on a temporary work visa but a transition to legal permanent residency will be necessary for on-going employees.  Please visit the following links to learn more about the filing process and an outline of estimated costs associated with visa sponsorship.

LPR Summary of fees for Teaching Positions

Summary of Immigration Related Costs for NON-Teaching Positions

UMaine policy on filing EB-2 petitions vs. EB-2 petitions for tenure track faculty
Employees in Post-doctoral and fixed length positions are typically not eligible for sponsorship for legal permanent residence through the University.   For information on alternate paths to US permanent  residence please visit the USCIS Website.  If you are considering filing in the EB-2 category, please be sure to read the policy listed above regarding UMaine sponsorship in this category.