Finding Us

IPO Office

phone: (208) 885-8984
fax: (208) 885-2859
ipo@uidaho.edu

Mailing address:
875 Perimeter Drive MS 1250
Moscow, ID 83844-1250

Physical address:
901 Paradise Creek Street
LLC Bldg. #3
Moscow, ID 83844-1250

IPO students meet in the IPO office.

International Faculty/Staff

The Office of International Student, Scholar and Faculty Services (ISSFS) provides general advice on H-1B, TN and Permanent Residency requirements and procedures. We work closely with the campus community and immigration attorneys to serve international faculty and staff who have been offered permanent or temporary positions at the University of Idaho.

For more information on hiring a foreign national in a temporary or permanent position, please contact Tammi Johnson at the ISSFS office at (208) 885-8945 or at tammir@uidaho.edu to discuss the appropriate visa status that will be best suited for the position, current prevailing wages for the position, and the steps for obtaining that visa status as well as future steps for possible Legal Permanent Residency (green card) status.
 
An overview and action steps for initiating H-1B, TN Status and Permanent Residency are below.

Additional questions may be answered in the FAQs or you may contact Tammi Johnson at tammir@uidaho.eduor (208) 885-8945. 

  • H-1B Status
    Please note that all H-1B petitions for employment at the University of Idaho must be processed by International Programs. Processing of H-1B petitions for employment at the UI by outside attorneys is not permitted unless special circumstances exist.

    At the University of Idaho (UI) the H-1B immigration category can be used to employ foreign national employees in permanent or temporary, full-time teaching and/or research faculty positions at the Professor, Associate, Assistant Professor, Instructor/Lecturer, Assistant Research Professor, Post Doctoral Researcher, Researcher and Research Assistant levels.

    H-1B temporary workers are defined as persons who will perform services in specialty occupations on a temporary basis. The Immigration Act of 1990 defines specialty occupation as: "an occupation which requires theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge to fully perform the occupation” along with at least a bachelor’s degree or its foreign equivalent in the field required for the position. In some cases a combination of education, specialized training and experience can be used to fulfill this condition. In addition, the employer must meet the prevailing wage required by the Department of Labor and pay the higher of: the prevailing wage or the actual wage. The "actual wage" is defined as the average salary for employees with the same title and similar educational background employed in the same institution. ISSFS maintains a public inspection file on each H-1B worker required by the Department of Labor.
  •             Starting the H-1B Petition Process
    Before the department proceeds with the H-1B petition, we recommend consulting with International Programs on prevailing wage requirement for the position. Once the prevailing wage is confirmed, the department and employee should go through and submit all completed documentation including the UI H-1B Checklist and the Supplemental Export Control Certification for Form I-129 below for a completed application packet.  

    Please note that a complete application packet (including fees) from the department is essential to begin the process and it can take up to 3 weeks for our office to prepare the petition to submit to USCIS. 

    Please contact Tammi Johnson at (208) 885-8945 or tammir@uidaho.edu for any questions that you may have with this process.

    H-1B Checklist (PDF)
    Supplemental Export Control Certification for Form I-129 (PDF)

    We have also included a Word document for the Employers Letter that must accompany the application packet for easy editing for the position. 

    Model Employer Letter (Word Document)

  •             Processing Times and Outline of Process from Initial Hire to Approval
    ISSFS provides general advice on H-1B requirements and procedures, reviews submitted documentation, secures prevailing wage, Labor Condition Application and prepares and files I-129 petition with the USCIS Service Center. It can take us up to 3 weeks to prepare the petition from the time we receive a complete application (including the fees) from the department. 

    Processing time at the California Service Centers for I-129 H-1B petitions vary from approximately 2 to 4 months. A premium processing petition is usually approved within 15 days. We recommend a premium processing option for employees whose contract is to begin shortly or those who have a visa status that prevents them from working at the UI immediately. We also recommend premium processing in situations when the employee or his/her family members plan to travel outside the U.S. in a near future. Prospective employees in H-1B status currently working for another employer, or those applying for extension of H-1 status usually do not need premium processing. Please feel free to contact us with questions about the best processing option.

    View a graph of the H-1B petition process.

  •             Travel and H-1B Status
    Persons holding H-1B status or awaiting a change of status to H-1B may wish to travel out of the U.S. and return shortly. Below is information that will generally describe some effects of travel. None of the information presented here should be considered legal advice. 

    Basic Concept: Visa vs. Status

    Perhaps the most important concept for you to understand, if you are contemplating travel abroad and re-entry to the U.S., is that holding a valid immigration status and holding a valid visa are not the same thing. The visa is a travel permit in your passport. Valid nonimmigrant status is granted to you by the immigration service. You may have valid status and an expired visa. If the immigration service extended your status or granted you a change of status in the U.S., it did not give you a new visa. You do not need a new visa to remain in the U.S., but you probably need a new one to re-enter the U.S. CHECK YOUR VISA BEFORE YOU TRAVEL. MAKE SURE IT IS VALID (reflecting your current status) AND UNEXPIRED. 

    Re-entering the U.S. in H-1B Status

    If you hold H-1B status and depart the U.S. temporarily during your authorized stay (the validity period of the approved petition), you will need the following to re-enter the U.S. in H-1B status: 
    • Valid, unexpired Form I-797, the H-1B approval notice provided to your employer (a photocopy may suffice if you cannot obtain the original) 
    • I-797, valid and unexpired, if you changed status to H-1B in the U.S. (this is your new I-94) 
    • Valid Passport with expiration at least 6 months in the future 
    • Letter from your employer confirming that you are still employed at the UI in the position described in the H-1B petition, that you are making a short trip and expected back to work soon 
    • Valid, unexpired H-1B visa in passport. If your visa has expired or you changed status in the U.S. and never had an H-1B visa, you must apply for a new visa at U.S. embassy or consulate while abroad. There are two exceptions. Canadian citizens do not need a visa to enter the U.S. Also, any person in H-1B status who visits Canada or Mexico for less than 30 days does not need a valid visa, and may re-enter with an expired visa (even from a previous status like F-1, J-1, B-1, etc.). 
    • Photocopies of the H-1B petition, including the ETA 9035

    Travel While Awaiting Approval of H-1B “Change of Status” Petition

    If you are awaiting approval of an H-1B petition that would change your current status to H-1B, do not travel. When you leave the U.S., the immigration service will consider your change of status request abandoned. In most cases, if your petition is otherwise approvable, the immigration service will approve the request for H-1B classification and deny the request for the change of status. This means that you will have to leave the U.S. (again), apply for an H-1B visa, and re-enter the U.S. in order to obtain H-1B status. 

    Should you find it absolutely essential to leave the U.S. while the petition is pending, you may—in most cases—wait outside of the U.S. for the approval, apply for the visa, and then return. You may also consider “converting” your petition to premium processing to speed its approval. 

    Travel While Awaiting Approval of H-1B “Extension” Petition

    If you are awaiting approval of an H-1B extension petition, you may leave the U.S. briefly without abandoning the petition. Travel does not cause abandonment of the extension request. 

    Please note that if your original authorization, as noted on the Form I-797 approval notice, has expired, you will not be allowed to re-enter the U.S. As stated above, you must have a valid and unexpired H-1B approval notice and visa to re-enter the U.S. If your original approval has expired, but an extension petition was filed on your behalf before that expiration, you may continue working for up to 240 days, but you will not be able to re-enter the U.S. 

    Travel While Awaiting Approval of H-1B “Change of Employer” Petition

    Recent changes in the law allow “portability” of H-1B status. In short, beneficiaries may begin working for a new employer once that employer has filed the H-1B petition with USCIS. The employer and employee are not required to wait for approval before beginning the employment. If you held H-1B status for one employer and your new employer filed “a change of employer” petition on your behalf, you may travel without abandoning that petition. However, you will only be allowed to re-enter the U.S. if the period on your old approval notice for your previous employer has not yet expired. You must present the old approval notice, the new receipt notice, a valid and unexpired visa. This is an especially complicated issue, so seek advice before traveling if you are awaiting approval of an H-1B “change of employer” petition. 

    Travel After Approval of H-1B “Change of Employer” Petition

    If an H-1B “change of employer” petition filed on your behalf was approved, you may follow the list above in “Re-entering the U.S. in H-1B Status” and travel and re-enter the U.S. If your H-1B visa is still valid, even though it lists your previous employer, you may use it to re-enter the U.S. 

    Travel While Awaiting Approval of a Lawful Permanent Residence Petition

    In most cases, if you are able to return to the U.S. in H-1B status, you will not be considered to have abandoned a pending lawful permanent residence petition filed on your behalf. 

    Other Considerations

    Any trip abroad while you hold H-1B status in the U.S. must be planned carefully. Missteps that might seem small can have dire consequences. There are many considerations.

    1. Do you need a visa to enter the country you plan to visit? To find out, you may visit that country’s embassy website
    2. Do you need a U.S. visa to re-enter the U.S.? If so, you will need to do some research to find out how to apply for the visa, how long it will take to get an appointment and how long it will take the consulate to issue the visa. Visit the Department of State website for general information about visas.
    3. To obtain information about appointments, processing times, and other “local factors,” access the web site of the U.S. embassy or consulate in the country you plan to visit.
  • TN Status (Canada & Mexico)

    Trade NAFTA - TN Status 

    Under the NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement), Canadian and Mexican professionals may apply to enter the U.S. under the TN immigration classification. 

    Applicants from Canada 

    The TN process for Canadian professionals does not require U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) certification of a Labor Condition Application or prior approval by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS). Qualifying Canadian nationals trained in one of the professions listed on Schedule 2 List of NAFTA Professional Job Series may obtain TN1 immigration status and enter the U.S. by applying at a U.S. port of entry or preflight inspection center. TN status is granted in up to three-year increments with unlimited renewals, requires no forms when applied for at the port of entry or preflight inspection center, and is available to some people who may not qualify for H-1B1 status. 

    Applicants from Mexico

    For qualifying Mexican nationals trained in one of the professions listed on NAFTA, Schedule 2, as of December 1, 2003, the annual numerical cap and visa petition procedures for the TN2 nonimmigrant visa category ended. Effective January 1, 2004, prospective Mexican TN2 professional workers seeking the TN2 classification apply for a TN2 visa at a U.S. Consulate or embassy without a need for prior approval from USCIS or the Department of Labor. 

    The spouse and unmarried minor (under age 21) children of a TN2 worker who are Canadian citizens are granted TD immigration status. Dependents who are not Canadian citizens must apply to a U.S. Consulate for a TD visa. Dependents will be admitted to the U.S. for the period of time coinciding with the TN2's period of stay. Dependents entering the U.S. after the TN2 worker should present a certified copy of the worker's I-94, a supporting letter from the employer, and a copy of the TN2's original application for TN2 status. The procedure may be facilitated if the dependents apply at the same pre-flight inspection center or port of entry as the principle, as the application may still be on file there. Dependents in TD status are not eligible for employment. However, they can attend school in TD status. The spouse and unmarried minor (under age 21) children of a TN2 worker who are Mexican citizens must apply at a U.S. Embassy or consulate for a TD visa. 

    Requirements for Obtaining TN Status:

    • Proof of Canadian or Mexican citizenship. (Canadian landed immigrants and non-Canadian citizens are not eligible for TN status.)
    • Evidence that the intended U.S. employment and the applicant qualify under Schedule 2 of NAFTA. Click here for the Schedule 2 List of NAFTA Professional Job Series.
    • Applicant must intend to engage in employment at a professional level. The employment must be prearranged by a U.S. company or institution.
    • A letter from the U.S. employer detailing the nature of the employment in the U.S. TN status is granted for only one employer at a time for a specific type of work. For multiple employers, multiple TN applications must be filed.
    • Originals or certified copies of school records, diplomas, licenses, degrees, certificates or membership in professional organizations; or transcripts showing an appropriate degree (bachelor's degree or higher) from a recognized college or university; a statement of U.S. equivalency might be required.
    • The employment must be temporary. The letter from the U.S. employer must state that employment is temporary. The applicant cannot intend to remain in the U.S. permanently.
    • There must be no strike or lockout at proposed worksite. If there is, USCIS may deny the entry.
    • Mexican citizens and their dependents must first have an approved TN2 and TD visa stamp in their passports in order to receive TN2 or TD status at the U.S. port of entry.
  • Permanent Residency (Green Card)
    While the University does not provide advice and services for permanent residency, the International Programs does assist the sponsoring employer/department and the employee to connect with and liaises with UI approved immigration attorneys to process paperwork in the appropriate category.
      
    The most common employment based categories include: 1) Outstanding Professors and/or Researchers (EB-1) and 2) Special Handling for Teaching Faculty (EB-2).

    Requirements:

    • Must be sponsored by your employer/department.  The decision of PR sponsorship is made solely in the best interests of the University’s academic, research and educational needs and priorities. Approval of University PR sponsorship does not guarantee a PR petition, and PR petition does not guarantee USCIS approval and subsequent granting of PR status by USCIS. 
    • Position must be "permanent" - defined as "either tenured, tenure-track, or for a term of indefinite or unlimited duration, and in which the employee will ordinarily have an expectation of continued employment unless there is good cause for termination"
    • Labor Certification fee must be paid by employer (for EB-2’s)
    We highly recommend that all new Permanent Faculty and Staff apply for Permanent Residency within the first semester of beginning employment at the UI.   

  •             Types of Permanent Residency Based Upon a Position at the University of Idaho
    Permanent Residence with Labor Certification (Faculty) (EB-2) This is the most common and fastest process. This application will require that the following:
    • The position must be advertised in a national professional journal, preferably The Chronicle of Higher Education as a 1 time print ad or a 30-day posting on-line in a professional journal.  Cannot use www.higheredjobs.com
    • Ad must include title/titles, a brief description of duties, and minimum requirements must be stated
    • The qualifications stated in the advertisement must be met at the time of selection.
    • The position must include actual classroom teaching
    • The salary must be commensurate with the position and area (Department of Labor determination)
    • The Labor Certification Application must be filed within a specific time period after the position has been offered (not started).  
    The benefit of this classification is that you will not have to demonstrate your extraordinary or outstanding abilities.  The department will be required to pay the labor certification portion of your fees to the attorney.  

    We highly recommend that everything for the labor certification be filed within the first semester of starting the position in case of delays caused by denials or audits, as the window of time is very short.    

    The application for green card (I-140) with labor certification must be filed within 18 months of the position offer.  Maximum time out from date of offer to prepare is 14 months in order to get the Labor Certification and application in but should be started far earlier. Correct posting (advertisement) of the position must also be met.  If either or both of these have not been met, the position will have to be re-advertised to “test the job market” and your position could be lost to a better qualified candidate, or you would need to look at another option for applying for LPR, such as Outstanding Professor or National Interest Waiver.
    Permanent Residence with Labor Certification (Non-Faculty) (EB-2) This is also the most common and fastest process. This application will require that the following:
    • The position must be advertised in a national professional journal, preferably The Chronicle of Higher Education as a 1 time print ad or a 30-day posting on-line in a professional journal.  Cannot use www.higheredjobs.com
    • Ad must include title/titles, a brief description of duties, and minimum requirements must be stated
    • The qualifications stated in the advertisement must be met at the time of selection.
    • Classroom teaching is preferred 
    • The salary must be commensurate with the position and area (Department of Labor determination)
    • The Labor Certification Application must be filed within a specific time period after the position has been offered (not started).  
    The benefit of this classification is that you will not have to demonstrate your extraordinary or outstanding abilities.  The department will be required to pay the labor certification portion of your fees to the attorney.  

    We highly recommend that everything for the labor certification be filed within the first semester of starting the position in case of delays caused by denials or audits, as the window of time is very short.    

    The application for green card (I-140) with labor certification must be filed within 18 months of the position offer.  Maximum time out from date of offer to prepare is 14 months in order to get the Labor Certification and application in but should be started far earlier. Correct posting (advertisement) of the position must also be met.  If either or both of these have not been met, the position will have to be re-advertised to “test the job market” and your position could be lost to a better qualified candidate, or you would need to look at another option for applying for LPR, such as Outstanding Researcher or National Interest Waiver.
    Outstanding Professor (EB-1) This classification will require that you demonstrate that you have sustained national or international acclaim and that you have reached the top of your field. If you are filing less than 3 years after your PhD, you will have to show that your work while you were in pursuit of your PhD has been outstanding. Labor Certification is not required for this option. 
    Outstanding Researcher (EB-1) This classification will require that you demonstrate that you have international recognition in your field. If you are filing less than 3 years after your PhD, you will have to show that your work while you were in pursuit of your PhD has been outstanding. Labor Certification is not required for this. 
    National Interest Waiver  The NIW petition requests that the labor certification requirement be waived for the sake of “national interest of the United States”. This classification will require that you have an “advanced degree” or “exceptional ability” in the sciences, arts or business. You will also need to demonstrate that you seek employment in an area of substantial intrinsic merit to the U.S., that the benefit from the candidate’s proposed activity will be national in scope, and that the requirement of a Labor Certification for the candidate will adversely affect the national interest. 
  •             Application Process
    As indicated above, the UI does not process Permanent Residency Applications. However, there is a process in place, as this is normally employment based and the Attorney who will be assisting must be screened by UI Legal Counsel and approved to be an attorney of record. 

    Schedule an appointment: To start the Application process, please schedule an appointment immediately upon or prior to your arrival on campus to meet with Tammi Johnson in the UI International Programs Office (IPO). Contact Tammi at (208) 885-8945 or tammir@uidaho.edu.  

    See the following for a detailed breakdown of the process which will be gone over in detail with Tammi.

    Click here for a list of approved Immigration Attorneys that are eligible to represent the University of Idaho.

  •             Common Ways of Obtaining U.S. Permanent Residency
    There are different ways to obtain U.S. permanent residency (PR), also referred to as the “Green Card”, or lawful permanent residence (LPR). After acquiring LPR status, a “Green Card” holder can work and live anywhere in the U.S. The most common ways to obtain U.S. permanent residence are:

    1. Employment-based 
    2. Family-based 
    3. Refugee or Asylum-based 
    4. Diversity lottery 
    5. Investors 

    Further information is available on the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website or by consulting with an immigration attorney.
  •             Travel While Awaiting Approval of a Lawful Permanent Residency Petition
    In most cases, if you are able to return to the U.S. in H-1B status, you will not be considered to have abandoned a pending lawful permanent residence petition filed on your behalf. Please be sure to inform the attorney that you are working with of any plans to travel outside of the U.S. as well as any plans to get married, etc.