Equal Opportunity & Affirmative Action Office
The University of Montana
Equal Opportunity & Affirmative Action Office
The University of Montana
As the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) notes on their website, Immigration Direct (http://www.immigrationdirect.com/us-visas.jsp): “Applying for a visa can seem long and complicated. Having the right documents is essential. If you do not have the required documents with you, your visa application is likely to be rejected…”
FACT: There are currently more than 80 types of visas in the United States.
What is a visa?
A visa is an official authorization appended to a passport, permitting entry into and travel within a particular country or region. This endorsement signifies that the document is in order and permits its bearer to travel into or through the country of the government issuing it. Visas are alphabetically coded, and each alpha character denotes a different type of visa, each with its own qualifiers and restrictions.
And why is this important to me?
As UM reaches toward the goal of building a university for the global century, our applicant pools are becoming more diverse and our sourcing is generating more candidates. For many years, UM has been attracting significant talent from around the globe and the trend is expected to increase. Hiring foreign nationals is complex, as the following pages will illustrate. Whether hiring post-docs, researchers, tenure-track faculty, staff or contract professionals, we must ensure that our hiring practices are in compliance and that we are taking the right actions on behalf of our potential new employees.
Wading through the complexities of hiring foreign nationals can be easier with the following guidelines:
Understand that in the event a foreign national is hired, the hiring department is responsible for contacting Shelley Hiniker, Associate Director of Human Resources and UM Foreign National Specialist at 406-243-6634 to initiate required processes and documentation.
Ensure that you are advertising widely, and according to the following guidelines:
Regardless of the type of position you are posting, (i.e. faculty, staff, student, temporary, contract professional, postdoc) any search may yield a successful foreign national candidate.
Don't hesitate to ask for assistance from HRS to ensure that recruitment practices and sources for job announcements conform to existing Department of Labor (DOL) regulations.Among the many questions you are not allowed to ask an applicant during the recruitment are these:
Ask if the candidate is eligible to work in the United States in the specific position which the candidate is being offered, and if not now, ask if the candidate would be eligible by the time the candidate is to report to work. This will initiate the discussion about whether the candidate is a foreign national.
Upon hiring a foreign national, please keep the following in mind:
For new hires wishing to remain at UM, there are generally three basic steps:
Please remember: The process begins when the recruitment staff notifies the Foreign National Specialist that there is a pending hire (an offer of employment has been made) involving a foreign national.
The Department of Labor requires a prevailing wage determination for all positions not covered by a collective bargaining unit (H-1B, EB-3 and O-1 visas only).
The prevailing wage determination ascertains that a particular position is not being underpaid or overpaid.
Postdoctoral positions, research scientists and adjuncts are usually in this category.
Occasionally, if a position has unique attributes, it may be beneficial to undergo the prevailing wage process. Please speak to the Foreign National Specialist if this may be the case.
The determination is electronically filed and conducted at the federal Department of Labor level (not at the state level), and could take approximately 6 to 8 weeks or longer.
A prevailing wage determination remains valid for a limited time period, depending on the date documentation is submitted.
Note: A prevailing wage determination is always conducted before a labor certification, if required. UM processing of the documents to be submitted can take between 5 and 7 business days. Please plan accordingly.
A labor certification is required for every professional visa classification whether covered by a collective bargaining unit or not.
The labor certification is electronically filed and conducted at the national Department of Labor (not at the state level) and could take approximately 2 to 6 weeks or longer.
The labor certification must be processed in order to apply to the USCIS for a visa.
H-1B visas apply to foreign professionals who are sponsored by the U.S. employer to work in a specialty occupation (occupations requiring theoretical and practical application of a body of specialized knowledge along with at least a Bachelor’s degree or its equivalent) in the United States.
An H-1B visa is generally valid for three years and can be extended for an additional 3-year period. The total time period can generally not exceed six years.In order to qualify for an H-1B visa:
For a new H-1B visa:
*NOTE: the expedited process fee is recommended since it significantly shortens the normal processing time of 4 to 5 months down to approximately 15 business days (after submission to USCIS). Requests for Additional Evidence (RFEs) can add to the time periods. Please be advised that the U.S. Department of Labor requires an analysis prior to submission, which can take up to 4 weeks.
The University of Montana is the “owner” or petitioner for the visa, and the foreign national is the “beneficiary.”
An H-1B visa is NOT transferable either into or out of The University of Montana. The H-1B visa is place, employer and income specific. Thus, if there are any modifications to place, employer or income, the Foreign National Specialist must be notified immediately to determine if an amendment to the application is necessary.
The University department or unit employing the foreign national is required to pay for processing the application and to pay all costs associated with the application process, including, if required, conducting a “new” search according to labor certification requirements and directives.
Departments or units are responsible for the cost of returning a non-immigrant employee (including spouse and children) to the employee’s homeland if the employee is terminated, the work ends or the visa expires during their employment period and renewal is not desired. There is a 10-day grace period before the foreign national is required to leave the country.
BY LAW, the above listed fees cannot be paid by the beneficiary, nor can the beneficiary be asked or required to repay the department.
The hiring authority of the department must provide the following (copies are acceptable):
If a competitive search takes place, the department must remember to retain all of the following documents in the recruitment files:
It is recommended that the documents listed above be retained for a minimum of five (5) years by the hiring department and the Recruitment Office.
*Important Note: If the original documents are in a foreign language, the original documents in the foreign language must be submitted, along with copies that have been translated into English.
Upon USCIS approval of the H1B visa, the Foreign National Specialist will contact both the department/unit and the beneficiary. The original document will be forwarded to the beneficiary to include in the paperwork necessary for the appointment with the consulate.
If the H1B visa is not approved, the Foreign National Specialist will contact the beneficiary and the department to discuss next steps.
Upon the candidate’s arrival at the University, both the beneficiary and the departmental contact shall make an appointment to meet with the Foreign National Specialist.
IMPORTANT: Because rules and processes change continuously, we strongly recommend that you consult with Shelley Hiniker, Foreign National Specialist in Human Resource Services, regarding any and all aspects of this process.
Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action and Title IX Coordinator
University Hall 020
Missoula, MT 59812