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UAB's Office of International Faculty & Staff Immigration Services (IFSIS) helps departments and international faculty and staff navigate employer-sponsored work authorization processes with USCIS.

UAB hiring managers and department administrators consider work authorization options in consultation with IFSIS. The vast majority of international employees join UAB in H-1B, E-3, O-1, or TN immigration status or by virtue of a USCIS-issued work authorization card (“EAD”).

Your hiring department will work with IFSIS to begin the work authorization process for you. Please see below for important information concerning next steps.

H-1B Processing – New Hire/First Time in H-1B Status with UAB

  • What documents do I need to provide?

    You will receive an invitation to Edge, the IFSIS immigration database. Edge contains a questionnaire and a list of documents that must be uploaded to begin the H-1B process. Please upload clear, legible pdf copies of ALL relevant documents on the list.

    Education Equivalency Evaluation

    Federal immigration regulations governing the H-1B process [8 CFR § 212.4(h)(4)(iii)(C)(2)] require an education equivalency evaluation for all degrees earned outside the US. Education equivalency (confirmation that your international degree is equivalent to obtaining a certain degree as awarded by a US institution) is not the same as education verification (which merely confirms that you received a certain degree). It is UAB policy to include an education equivalency evaluation with every H-1B petition in order to avoid a delay in adjudication in the event that USCIS issues a Request for Evidence (RFE) asking for the evaluation. If you earned the qualifying degree for the job offered at UAB (e.g., master's or PhD) outside the United States, please request an education equivalency evaluation as soon as possible to avoid delays in filing your petition. USCIS routinely accepts evaluations provided by members of NACES and Lisano International. If you earned a bachelor's degree outside the US, but your UAB job requires a master's or PhD degree at a minimum and you earned your master's or PhD in the US, there is no need to request an education equivalency evaluation for your international bachelor's degree. IFSIS does not recommend using WES or ECE, as those companies tend to focus on evaluations designed for academic rather than immigration purposes. You need an evaluation for immigration purposes that concludes that you hold the equivalent of a US degree in a specific field, not merely that you completed X years of study toward a US degree.'

  • When can I start working at UAB?

    If you are already in the US in H-1B status and are joining UAB from another US employer, you can start working at UAB on the later of the date on your offer letter or the day USCIS receives UAB’s H-1B petition on your behalf. You can complete Form I-9 with Human Resources based on proof of receipt, which IFSIS can provide. If you are coming to the US for the first time, or if you are currently in the US in a different immigration status and are changing status to H-1B, then you must wait for the official, hard copy USCIS approval notice (Form I-797) to arrive at the IFSIS office via US Mail from USCIS. Even if the H-1B petition was filed with premium processing to obtain a decision from USCIS within 15 calendar days, it will take another 5-7 business days for the hard copy approval notice to arrive in Birmingham from California. IFSIS will send you an automated email when the Form I-797 arrives at our office so that you can complete Form I-9 to begin working and obtain systems and email access, etc. at UAB. Please do not email asking if the approval notice has arrived in the mail—IFSIS will notify both you and your administrator as soon as the notice is available for pick-up.

    Please follow all instructions in the approval email from our Edge database regarding booking an appointment to complete your I-9 with UAB's International Payment Compliance Specialist or HRM Records. A link will be provided in the approval email, and it is your responsibility to take the next step of booking the appointment.'

H-1B Processing – Current Employees Extending H-1B Status

  • What documents do I need to provide?

    You will receive an email invitation from our Edge database to a secure site where you can upload all relevant documents identified in the database. IFSIS must receive legible pdf copies of all relevant documents from you to begin the H-1B process. Please log in to the Edge portal and upload pdf copies of ALL of the required documents to the Edge database (generally, your current CV, three most recent pay statements, most recent Form I-94 from international travel, and any USCIS receipt/approval notices you have received in the interim for any immigration processes such as EB-2 national interest waiver petitions, I-485 application receipt notices, etc.). Please do not send pictures or screen shots. We need clear, legible copies to file with USCIS. We cannot file the H-1B petition without ALL necessary documents.

    Please do not email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. asking if we received your documents or questionnaire. Our database emails us when documents are uploaded and questionnaires completed. Unless you receive an error or bounceback message, you can safely assume that we received your information. Asking for confirmation of automated processes slows down our workflow.

  • Do I need to wait until the extension is approved to continue working?

    No. Once an H-1B extension petition is filed with USCIS, you are authorized to work for up to 240 days beyond the end date of your current H-1B. We do not recommend traveling internationally while the extension is pending in case USCIS approves the petition while you are outside the US. Current USCIS processing time is 9.5 months. If you must travel internationally after the extension is filed, IFSIS will need a check for $2,500 to request premium processing so that you will have an approval notice in hand before you leave the US. You must take the original, hard copy USCIS Form I-797 approval notice with you to your visa interview at a US consulate/embassy abroad.

    Premium processing is not always required as a business expense. If you wish to have the extension petition premium processed for your personal international travel needs/wishes, be prepared to be asked to pay the $2,500 fee yourself in certain circumstances. UAB departments are responsible for premium processing fees for extension petitions generally only when it is a business necessity in order to guarantee your continued work authorization by a certain date.

Filing Fees

Your UAB department MUST pay the $460 USCIS filing fee to extend your H-1B status. Except in the Heersink School of Medicine, either you OR the department can pay the Premium Processing fee—it is up to you to negotiate with your department. All Heersink School of Medicine petitions must include a check for Premium Processing paid for by UAB. Please consult your department’s administrator or financial officer for specific questions about which accounts to use—IFSIS does not have any additional information and does not make the final decision on whether you or the department are responsible for the premium processing fee, which results in adjudication (meaning approval, denial, or issuance of a request for evidence) by USCIS within 15 calendar days (minus federal holidays).

TN Professionals

Canadian and Mexican professionals (known as “treaty nationals,” or TN) are eligible for temporary employment in certain specific occupations in the US under the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement (formerly the North American Free Trade Agreement, NAFTA). Please see this list for qualifying occupations. TN status is initially valid for up to three years and can be renewed indefinitely in one-year increments.

  • Canadian Citizens

    No application at a US consulate and no physical visa stamp is required for Canadian nationals who will be employed in the US in TN status. Canadian professionals can apply for admission into the US to accept employment by presenting the following documents at a US port of entry (land crossing or airport): an offer letter from UAB, proof of qualifications (usually a copy of diploma(s)), and proof of Canadian citizenship. PLEASE NOTE: physicians with patient care/clinical responsibilities are not eligible for TN status. Only physicians whose primary effort will be devoted to teaching and/or research can enter in TN status.

  • Mexican Citizens

    Mexican professionals must apply for a physical TN visa stamp at a US embassy or consulate before entering the US to work in TN status. UAB will file a petition for TN status with USCIS on your behalf and send you the hard copy, original USCIS approval notice (Form I-797) for presentation to the consular official during your visa interview.

E-3 Australian Professionals

The process for obtaining work authorization in the US as an Australian is practically identical to that for the H-1B process.


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