H-1B Visa Overview

Clemson University is committed to developing a faculty and community of researchers representing top talent. Toward that end, the University facilitates the process of requesting employment authorization for qualified faculty and researchers to work at Clemson University. The H-1B non-immigrant employment visa is often the best option for non-U.S. citizens.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), through the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), states the H-1B visa is appropriate for employment authorization in a "specialty occupation" that requires both a "theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge and attainment of a bachelor's or higher degree in the specific specialty (or its equivalent) as a minimum for entry into the occupation in the United States."

H-1B Eligibility

There are two separate parts to H-1B eligibility. The first part is ensuring the position meets the definition of "specialty occupation" defined here. International Services completes this step by filing both the Labor Condition Application with the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) and the USCIS forms required for H-1B sponsorship. The second step is USCIS' review of the prospective employee's qualifications for the position and immigration history. If both the position and prospective employee meet the eligibility requirements, USCIS will approve H-1B status. If USCIS has questions about either, they will issue a Request for Evidence (RFE) requesting additional evidence on either the position or employee before deciding on the H-1B and if one or both do not meet the requirements, the H-1B visa will be denied.

To be eligible for an H-1B, both the position and the employee must meet the following criteria: 

Position Requirements

  • Bachelor's degree is the minimum entry requirement for the position.
  • The degree requirement for the job is common to the industry or the job is so complex or unique that it can be performed only by an individual with a degree.
  • The employer requires a degree or its equivalent for the position.
  • The nature of the specific duties is so specialized and complex that the knowledge required to perform the duties is usually associated with attaining a bachelor’s degree or higher.
  • It may be full-time or part-time. If part-time, the department must agree to track the employee's actual hours (a federal requirement for salaried part-time employees).

Employee Requirements

  • Have completed a U.S. bachelor’s or higher degree required by the specific specialty occupation from an accredited college or university.
  • Hold a foreign degree that is equivalent to a U.S. bachelor’s degree or higher degree in the specialty occupation.
  • Have education, training, or progressively responsible experience in the specialty equivalent to completing such a degree.
  • Have recognition of expertise in the specialty through progressively responsible positions directly related to the specialty.

Salary Requirements

For the position to qualify for an H-1B visa the prospective employee must be paid the required wage set by the DOL. The salary required by the DOL is based on the position description and the geographic location of employment and does not always align with other suggested or recommended salary guidance.

  • Actual Wage
  • Prevailing Wage

The actual wage is the wage that people who are similarly employed with the petitioning employer are paid. In theory, this is the wage that people doing the same work with the same level of experience, skills, and accomplishments are paid.

The prevailing wage is the wage that people who are in a similar occupation in a given geographic area are paid.  This wage is based on external wage data provided by the DOL and considers the requirements for the position in relation to the requirements that the DOL considers typical for the occupation.

The U.S. government requires the employee to be paid either the actual or prevailing wage, whichever amount is higher.

In some cases, the prevailing wage is higher than the actual and even the offered wages. If the prevailing wage is higher than the offered wage, the offered wage must be increased to meet or exceed the prevailing wage.

Additional Resources

If you have any questions about the H-1B visa or application process, please contact International Services at empvisa@clemson.edu