Frequently Asked Questions for H1B Applicants

When should I make travel arrangements to the US?We recommend that you do not make any travel arrangements, such as booking tickets, until you have your visa stamp in your passport.  Due the time it takes to process the visa application at OIP and at USCIS and the time needed for obtaining a visa stamp you may find that you are forced to make last minute travel arrangements which are both expensive and stressful. Unfortunately this can’t be helped.  If you do purchase tickets before getting your visa stamp, be sure that it is possible to change your flight, even if it requires an additional fee.

Can I travel to the US as a visitor while I wait for my H1B status to be approved?– If you need to visit the US prior to your H1B approval to look for housing or make other arrangements you may enter as a visitor but you must leave and reenter the US using your H1B visa before you begin work at UMaine.  

If I already have an H1B visa at another institution will my H1B visa ‘transfer” to UMaine?No, the H1B visa is employer specific.  Each institution must petition separately for the employee.  There is, however, a provision for porting from one institution to another.  This means that if you are currently employed at one institution and hold an H1B visa for that institution and you accept a position with a new employer you can begin working for the new institution once the H1B petition for your new employer has been timely receipted at USCIS.  Timely receipted means that it has been accepted by USCIS BEFORE your current employment ends.  Example:  You currently work for employer A but this job ends on October 31, 2016.  You have accepted a position with employer B and this employer files a new H1B petition with USCIS which is receipted on October 15, 2016.  In this case you can begin work for employer A while the H1B petition is pending.  If employer B had not filed the petition until November 1, 2016 you would not be able to begin work.  You would have to wait until employer B’s petition was approved.

If I “port” to the University of Maine can I travel outside the US while my UMaine H1B petition is pending?No, you should not travel until your petition filed by UMaine has been approved.  In the case of an emergency you can request premium processing of your H1B petition at a cost of $1225 but this may take up to 3 weeks.

Can I work outside the University of Maine while I am on an H1B visa?You may hold H1B visas for more than one institution at the same time.  However, be sure that your second employer properly files the H1B petition which allows you to work for that company.