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Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ): H-1B Status

The answers to these questions are brief and may not cover all situations. Consult with the WKU International Legal Affairs Specialist or a qualified immigration attorney whenever you have concerns or need information regarding your immigration status.


  • How long does it take to get H-1B status?

The H-1B process can be lengthy. Anticipate six months or longer for normal processing.

  • How soon should I apply to extend my H-1B status?

If you are now in the U.S. and hold H-1B status, the application for extension of stay I-129 petition should be filed with USCIS as early as possible, up to six months prior to your I-797 Approval Notice expiration date. Note there are several steps necessary prior to the I-129 petition. It will also take time to assemble the application documents. Please notify the Office of International Programs 8-6 months before your expiration date.

  • Is WKU subject to the H-1B cap?

No. Institutions of higher education are exempt from the cap.

  • Can I hire my own attorney to help me get H-1B status to work at WKU?

No. WKU does not allow outside attorneys to represent its interests in immigration matters.

  • How long can I hold H-1B status?

You may hold H-1B status for a total of six years, in increments of up to three years. However, in situations involving delays in the processing of a green card application, H-1B status can be extended beyond six years so long as the I-140 or I-485 has been filed at least 365 days before the expiration of the last H-1B status period.

  • Must international students use up their OPT (Optional Practical Training) before getting an H-1B?

No. However, OIP recommends that when possible, the foreign national use up their Optional Practical Training (OPT) before switching to H-1B to conserve their H-1B time .

  • Does having J-1 status affect obtaining H-1B status?

If you are a current or former J Exchange Visitor subject to the two year home country physical presence requirement, you are limited in your eligibility to obtain H-1B status. If you are outside the U.S. , you are ineligible for an H visa unless the requirements have been either fulfilled or waived. If you are in the U.S., you are ineligible for a change of status from J to H (though a petition to change status to H-1B may be filed if a waiver has been recommended in writing by the Department of State but not yet formally approved by USCIS).

  • Does having H-1B status qualify me for a green card?

No. The H-1B is a non-immigrant status. However, H-1B status permits the holder to apply for permanent residence under certain conditions. Please see the Permanent Residency website and USCIS website for more information.

  • Do changes in my job affect H-1B status?

Yes. It is very important that any potential change in your employment (including but not limited to: salary, title, worksite location, department, percentage of time worked, leave status, etc.) be discussed with OIP well in advance of any change.

  • Can I receive a consulting fee or honorarium payment?

No. You can work only for the employer that sponsored your H-1B status. Although you may have opportunities to give lectures or speeches at other institutions or conferences, you cannot receive compensation for these activities other than reimbursement for reasonable travel and expenses. You must keep copies of all receipts if you receive such reimbursement(s).

  • What does "H-1B portability" mean?

A person in H-1B status may begin employment with a new employer as soon as USCIS receives from the new employer a non-frivolous I-129 petition. This is referred to as "H-1B portability." The new employer and H-1B beneficiary do not have to wait for the new petition to be approved for the new employer to begin. However, if the H-1B petition is denied, work authorization is automatically terminated.

  • Can I take classes?

Yes, provided that the classes do not become the primary purpose for being in the U.S. At all times you must fulfill the terms and conditions of your H-1B status, including full-time employment. There are no study restrictions for H-4 dependents.

  • Can my H-4 spouse work in the U.S.?


  • Do I need to inform anyone if I move?

Yes. Persons in H-1B status must report their change of residential address to USCIS within ten days of the move. (This can be done electronically or by using Form AR-11.) You should also notify WKU's Human Resources Department, your own department and The Office of International Programs.

  • How long can I stay in the U.S. after my job ends?

Because the H-1B is "employment" based, your lawful status in the U.s. ends when your employment ends. If your paid employment ends before your I-797 Approval Notice expires, you must leave the U.S. immediately upon termination of employment. If paid employment and the I-797 Approval notice end at the same time, check the expiration date on your I-94 card as it may indicate an additional ten-day "grace period" for departure. When re-entering the U.S. after being abroad, you should request the ten-day grace period at the port of entry when U.S. Border Patrol issues you a new I-94 card.

  • What if I need to travel outside of the U.S.?

Information on travel abroad and reentry into the U.S.

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 Last Modified 11/16/18