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The H-1B temporary worker visa is designated for individuals coming temporarily to the United States to work in a specialty occupation. A specialty occupation is defined as one that requires "theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge, and attainment of a bachelor's or higher degree, or its equivalent, as a minimum requirement."  The H-1B visa is complex, not all CSMC employees are eligible for sponsorship, and preparation requires input from the scholar and the host department. All H-1B requests must start with the hiring department. The Visa & International Services Administration (VISA) office will only process the H-1B application once the complete application packet is received from the department. Outside attorneys are not authorized to petition for H-1B status for any Cedars’ employee without written consent from the VISA office.

The H-1B visa is employer specific, which means that a USCIS approved petition that was submitted by CSMC authorizes the employee to work only in the position specified in the petition. An employee who has an H-1B visa approval from another employer is not automatically eligible to work at Cedars-Sinai. Employees in H-1B status cannot accept funds from another employer or source other than the employer listed in the H-1B application. 

H-1B candidates should allow at least 5-6 months for the entire process including the Department of Labor (DOL) and the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) processes.

Dependents of H-1B holders are eligible for H-4 status.   H-4 holders are not eligible to work in the U.S.

Clinical H-1B Visa Sponsorship for Residents and FellowsForeign physicians (residents and fellows) who wish to participate in clinical training at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center may be sponsored on an H-1B visa.   The department sponsoring the foreign national is responsible for ALL COSTS associated with the preparation and filing of the H1B petition.   

Once a foreign candidate is matched to a program, the sponsoring department should contact the VISA office immediately for consultation.  Departments should submit the H-1B visa sponsorship request to us at least 6 months prior to the residency/fellowship program start date.  Please click Clinical Visa Sponsorship for Residents and Fellows to review our clinical sponsorship guidelines.

Changing Employers (Portability Provision)

The H-1B is "employer specific" which means that each time a scholar changes employers the new employer has to prepare an entirely new H-1B application. Because any new H-1B application starts with obtaining a new Department of Labor prevailing wage, scholars should plan any change of employment well in advance, or else prepare to leave the U.S. and return later with the new H-1B status.

H-1B regulations (known as "AC21") allow individuals already holding H-1B status to begin employment with a new employer once the new petition is filed with USCIS. The policy at CSMC is that the candidate is not authorized to utilize portability until the VISA office has received the delivery confirmation receipt from FedEx, UPS, USPS, etc. regarding the new H-1B application submission to USCIS. It is also important to understand that filing a new petition with USCIS can take 90 days or longer due to new Department of Labor processing times. The Department of Labor process cannot be expedited.

Six-Year Maximum Length of Stay

H-1B visa holders are eligible for a total maximum stay of six years. The six-year limit includes time spent on the H-1B visa with another employer. The initial H-1B petition may cover a period up to three years. An extension petition may cover an additional three years (or less), totaling to 6 years.

Since this six-year limit is strictly enforced, it is important to plan accordingly. It may be possible to begin another six-year period as an H-1B visa holder after the individual has spent at least one year outside the United States.

Exceptions to the six-year rule: If an individual is at a certain stage in the application of permanent residence, s/he may be eligible for an extension beyond the 6-year maximum. The VISA office may work with the individual to determine if s/he is eligible for the extension beyond the 6-year maximum.

Contact the Visa & International Services Administration Office (VISA) to speak with an Immigration Partner for visa sponsorship beyond the six-year limit.

Note: J-1 Visa holders subject to the two year home residency requirement are not eligible for H-1B visa status unless they return home for two years or obtain a waiver of the requirement from the U.S. State Department, Waiver Review Board.


Maintaining Legal Status

Change of Address
All non-immigrant visa holders are required to notify USCIS within 10 days of a change of residential address. Details can be found in the change of address link above.

Change in employment status

Individual's H-1B status is dependent upon continued employment. H-1B petitions are employer and position specific, which means that the individual is authorized by USCIS to work only at CSMC in a specific position. the VISA office should be consulted prior to any changes in H-1B employment such as job title, job duties, salary, percentage of time, or location. An amended H-1B petition may be required under certain circumstances.


As H-1B status is employer specific, employees may not accept compensation, including honoraria, from any other entity. Individuals in H-1B status invited to give a lecture, collaborate, conduct research or present at other institutions can receive reimbursement for reasonable living and transportation costs only. An individual may work for more than one employer, but each employer must file a separate H-1B visa petition.

Leaving Cedars-Sinai

If an individual in H-1B status leaves CSMC before the end date on his/her H-1B approval notice, the VISA office is required to notify the U.S. Department of Labor and USCIS. Scholars should inform the VISA office if they complete their appointments prior to the expiration of their current H-1B status. Individuals in H-1B status should make sure that their departments are informed of their intending departure and their future contact information. 

If the H-1B holder’s employment is terminated prior to the end of the H-1B petition validity period, for any reason, under DHS regulations the employer is required to pay reasonable costs of return transportation to the H-1B worker's last place of residence abroad.

If an H-1B worker voluntarily terminates his or her employment, an employer is not liable for the cost of return transportation abroad.  

The H-1B employee must depart the United States on the final day of employment (by midnight) with the sponsoring employer, unless he or she has secured the H-1B sponsorship of another employer or otherwise changed immigration status.

Individuals intending to remain in the United States after leaving Cedars-Sinai should take the initiative to prepare and submit proper paperwork to maintain lawful immigration status. This may involve applying for H-1B status with another employer or changing to an entirely different visa category.  

Replacement Documents

Contact the VISA office immediately should you loose any of your immigration documents, i.e. passport, I-94 card, DS-2019, EAD card, I-797 Approval Notice, etc.

Should your passport is stolen or lost; you should contact the local police office to complete an official police report.  Often, your embassy/consulate may request for a copy of the police report prior to issuing you a replacement passport.  Contact your Embassy/Consulate.

Keep in mind that only your original documents will prove your legal status in the U.S. A copy is not sufficient evidence.  




H-4 Dependents

Spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21 of H-1B visa holders are considered dependents and are eligible for H-4 status. H-4 visa holders are only eligible to stay in the United States while their H-1B spouses or parents are in the United States maintaining the terms and conditions of their H-1B visa status.

H-4 visa holders are not permitted to work in the United States and are not eligible to obtain Social Security Numbers. H-4 visa holders may apply to change their visa status to H-1B if they qualify for the specialty occupation requirement and find an employer who is willing to file a petition on their behalf.

H-4 visa holders may study in the United States, full-time or part-time, for the duration of the H-1B's period of stay.

Extension of H-1B Status

An H-1B extension is possible if an employee is seeking to remain in the same job for a longer period of time. Extensions are normally granted for a cumulative total of 6 years (with a few exceptions for more time) as long as the application is received by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) before the expiration of the current H-1B status.

Employees currently employed and plans to continue employment at CSMC in H-1B status are responsible to contact their department administrator to begin an extension six months prior to the end date of their current H-1B status.

In H-1B processing, each application including extensions, all steps of the H-1B process are repeated each time beginning with obtaining a Department of Labor (DOL) prevailing wage. Only after the VISA office has completed the prevailing wage process is it possible to file the H-1B extension with the USCIS. Currently there is no expedited “Premium Processing” for the DOL part of the process.

H-1B Extension Instructions
  1. Contact your department administrator at least 6 months prior to the expiration of your current H-1B status.

  2. Complete the H-1B Application Portfolio with your hiring department

  3. Submit additional supporting documents as outlined in the H-1B Application Packet, if applicable


Accompanying Dependents Only
Any dependents included in the extension petition H-4 status will also be extended upon receiving approval from USCIS.  The hiring department may choose not to cover the costs associated with your dependent’s visa application therefore you will be responsible for payment of such fees. The VISA office will notify you of the payment schedule should you need to be responsible for any fees.

After the Application is Submitted to USCIS
If the extension application is filed with USCIS in a timely manner (before the expiration of the current H-1B status) then the employee does not have to wait for USCIS H-1B approval notice. With timely filed H-1B extensions the employee is authorized to continue to work and be paid for up to 240 days after the expiration of his/her current H-1B status. Therefore, in most cases “Premium Processing” is only necessary if the H-1B employee will be traveling outside the U.S.


Travel During Extension Filing

If you have any plans to travel outside the U.S. during the H-1B extension process you must speak to your VISA advisor. In many cases international travel with a pending extension petition can affect the outcome of the extension.  After you have received the new, extended  H-1B approval notice you may travel outside the U.S. once again. However, while outside the U.S. you will have to obtain a new H-1B visa stamp at a U.S. embassy or consulate (except Canadian citizens). It is not possible to obtain visa stamps inside the U.S.