FAQs

Immigration FAQs

  • I am a UTRGV student who is about to graduate. Can IS help me get a work visa?

    Only your future employer can help you obtain a work visa. If you are about to graduate, we strongly recommend that you apply for Optional Practical Training.

  • UTRGV wants to hire me, but I need a work visa. How does the process start?

    UTRGV sponsors several categories of work visas. IS focuses exclusively on employer-sponsored H-1B, O-1, TN, and E-3 Australian processing.

  • Who sets the strategy for my case?

    The Immigration Services Office at UTRGV that handle these matters have extensive expertise in both the Federal regulations and UTRGV policies that together determine how your case will be handled by the university.  In rare situations that require legal expertise, IS will work with our attorneys to develop the best solution for you and your department.

  • What factors does IS look at to determine my eligibility?

    We look at several factors:
    • The type of job you are being offered
    • Any limitations to the appointment
    • Your education and professional background
    • The needs of your hiring department
    • Your immigration history
  • How far in advance must the request for visa processing be submitted?

    To be sure that IS can obtain the needed status in time for the desired start date, we advise departments to submit their request to us a full 8 months in advance of the needed start date.  Any later and there is an increasing risk that the requested start date cannot be accommodated.

  • How does the process start?

    Typically, the process starts with an initial intake to gather your information and basic required documentation and materials from you and your department. IS may request additional materials for your case.

    NOTE:  Only once all information and materials are complete can IS start the processing clock.

  • Who pays for the process?

    Your hiring department will pay all government filing fees, including Premium Processing where it can be applied.

  • Can’t I just hire my own lawyer to take care of everything?

    IS is the only entity authorized to prepare and submit petitions and applications on the university’s behalf.  You can, however, hire your own attorney to advise you personally.



How long does the process take? 

  • H-1B - Professional in a Specialty Occupation

    Processing times are measured from the date that all required materials are complete.  Initial discussions, and partial submission of materials do not start our processing clock.  Once all documents and materials are received from you and your department, a projected processing timeline will be emailed to all parties.  General H-1B processing stages are:

    • Stage 1:  Processing at IS:  Approximately 6 weeks from time request materials are complete.  Specific cases may require additional time to obtain a prevailing wage, obtain an Export Control determination, or other extra processing due to the specifics of the case. Such issues can delay processing for 2 weeks to 3+ months.
    • Stage 2:  Government Processing:  Most of the UTRGV H-1B cases are submitted via the USCIS Premium Processing Program.  Typically this takes 15 days.  However, in some cases the USCIS may issue a Request for Evidence (RFE).  This can delay processing.
    • Stage 3:  Approval Document Delivery:  The USCIS mails the original approval notice to IS.  This can take from 7-14 days.  If the individual is abroad, the approval must be sent to them so that they can obtain a visa stamp in their passport and enter the United States in H-1B status.  This can take an additional 2 weeks+.
  • TN - NAFTA Professional

    Total processing time varies depending on whether the case involves Port of Entry (POE) Inspection or a USCIS filing.  A projected processing timeline will be sent to you and your department when processing begins.

    • Stage 1:  Processing at IS:  For either POE Inspection or USCIS filing:  4 Weeks.
    • Stage 2:  Government Processing:
      • Via POE Inspection (PFI): Variable.
      • Via USCIS Filing: 15 Days (Premium Processing). Does not include delays that may result from a USCIS Request for Evidence (RFE).
    • Stage 3:  Approval Document Delivery:
      • Via POE Inspection (PFI): Immediate.
      • Via USCIS Filing: 14 days.
  • O-1 - Alien of Extraordinary Ability

    Total processing varies by type of case.  A projected processing timeline will be sent to you and your department when processing begins.

  • E-3 - Australian Treaty Professional in Specialty Occupation

    Total processing varies by type of case. A projected processing timeline will be sent to you and your department when processing begins.

    • Stage 1:  Processing at IS:  4-6 Weeks.
    • Stage 2:  Government Processing:
      • Via U.S. Consulate in Australia: Depends on Consular Appointment calendar.
      • Via USCIS Filing: 15 days (Premium Processing).
    • Stage 3:  Document Delivery:
      • Via U.S. Consulate in Australia: 1-2 days.
      • Via USCIS Filing: 14 days.


Immigration FAQs Cont'd 

  • How can my spouse and children obtain visas to accompany me?

    This will be part of the strategy discussion in your case.  Different options may be available depending on the logistics of your travel and other factors.

  • My spouse would like to work. Will it be possible?

    It depends on what type of visa status you hold.  Typically spouses of H-1B, TN, and O-1 holders cannot obtain work authorization in dependent status.  They may have to obtain their own work visa, or wait until permanent residence processing has advanced to the required stage, before they obtain work authorization.

  • My spouse would like to volunteer. Will it be possible?

    A foreign national cannot perform work as a volunteer if the foreign national believes that some form of compensation will follow. This specifically includes volunteering for a trial period leading up to compensated employment.

  • Can my spouse get a driver’s license?

    Yes
  • How do I maintain my work visa status?

    Most work visas operate on the principle that you are employed as described in the request the employer sent to the government.  If there are changes to that employment, or you leave the employment without making provisions, you can find yourself out of status. Call or email us for a consultation to discuss your options.

  • If I move my place of residence in the USA, does the government require me to do anything?

    Yes, you must file Form AR-11 with the USCIS within 10 days to let them know you have changed residences. Please find the form and instructions here Form AR-11

  • If my job changes, or I change departments at UTRGV, What should I do?of this section.

    Depending on the situation, the university may need to file a new petition on your behalf before you can take up the new job.

    • If your department is contemplating changes to your employment, please have them contact IS.
    • If you are changing departments at UTRGV, please have the new department contact IS to file a petition before starting you in the new position.
  • Do I need to do anything if I am leaving UTRGV employment?

    Both you and your department should notify IS in writing as soon as you have a departure date.  If your departure is due to termination by UTRGV, please contact us immediately.

  • What if another employer wants to hire and pay me in addition to my UTRGV job?

    The other employer may need to file a new petition for you, depending on the visa type and specifics of the employment.

  • How do I extend my work visa status?

    You should get courtesy reminders from IS, and your department HR administrator starting 8 months prior to your expiration.  However, you are responsible for working with your department to make sure a request is initiated with IS at or before the 8 month mark.

  • Why do I have to start so early?

    While we can’t typically file before the 8 month mark for an extension, a full eight months lead time can be necessary to plan around any upcoming travel, upcoming changes by the government, and respond to government requests that might arise during processing.

  • Who pays for the process?

    The hiring department will pay all government filing fees associated with obtaining your work visa status.  However, fees and costs associated with obtaining a visa stamp (where necessary) at a U.S. Consulate abroad are your responsibility.  Similarly, the fees and costs associated with obtaining dependent status for any accompanying family members will also be your responsibility.

  • When do I need a visa stamp in my passport?

    Unless you are a Canadian citizen, you will need a visa stamp in your passport to enter the USA.  The visa stamp shows the type of status you are approved for, and other types of information that the officers of the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) will consider when deciding to admit you to the United States.

  • How do I obtain a visa stamp?

    You must apply at a U.S. Consulate for a visa stamp to be laminated into your passport.  Please factor this into your travel plans.  Visit the website of your preferred U.S. Consulate to learn more about their specific procedures, timelines, and to make an appointment.  U.S. Consulate Websites »

  • How do I pick a U.S. Consulate

    If you are applying for your very first H-1B visa stamp, you will typically need to apply in your home country.  If you will be processing in a different country, you will need to check with the specific U.S. Consulate to see if they will accommodate you as a “Third Country National” (TCN).  Not all will do so.  U.S. Consulate Websites »

  • What documents do I need?

    Generally, the documents IS gave you with your original approval notice should suffice.  However, some U.S. Consulates may request additional information or documentation when you make your appointment.  Please check with them directly.  U.S. Consulate Websites »

  • My visa application is delayed by “Administrative Processing”. What can I do?

    Very few of the individuals we sponsor are selected for “Administrative Processing”.  Those very few cases are typically resolved in 2-4 weeks.  However, there are rare exceptions that take longer.  Let the Immigration Services Manager know immediately if your application is selected.

  • Do I need to get a visa stamp if I remain in the United States after changing status?

    No. A valid visa stamp is only required when you request entry to the USA after traveling abroad.

  • What do I need to do after I enter the United States on my new visa stamp?

    1. Print out your I-94 Entry information from the Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) website. Keep the printout for your records.  It is a good idea to make this a habit each time you enter the United States, and carefully scrutinize the “Admit Until” date on the I-94 entry record to make sure it matches, at minimum, the date on your I-797 approval notice.  Also check it against the entry stamp in your passport.  If there are discrepancies, please contact IS, so that we can take a look and determine if corrective action is necessary.
    2. Please forward copies of your new visa stamp and I-94 information to us at IS.
  • What does HR Immigration Services do?

    IS is the office at UTRGV authorized to handle work-related immigration matters on behalf of the university and its faculty and staff. We are a small team of two, serving the entire institution. When your department wants to hire a foreign national (FN), we are the team who will process the paperwork, correspond with the government agencies, and obtain approval. We advise individuals, departments, schools, and administration on best practices in this area.

  • When does IS come into the hiring process?

    We recommend that the department contact us as soon as a foreign national emerges as a top candidate for a position.  The more time we have to strategize and process, the smoother everything will go.

  • Do you provide any trainings?

    We hold in-person orientation several times a year. Additionally, if your department or school wishes, we are happy to hold a session just for you.

  • What is the role of the department administrator?

    As the administrator appointed by your department to liaise with IS, we are here to support you in this demanding role.

  • What types of positions does UTRGV sponsor for work visas?

    Basic Requirements for a Position to be sponsored by UTRGV

    Federal regulations and UTRGV policies and practices limit the types of positions we can sponsor for work visas.  In general:

    • The position must be full-time.
    • The position must be fully benefits eligible.
    • The position must meet the regulatory definition of “professional” and “specialized”, i.e. it must require at minimum a bachelor’s degree in a specialty field as the normal requirement for entry into that occupation.
    • The position must pay as regulations require for that type of work visa, and the hiring department must meet or exceed the required wage.

    Faculty

    All full-time instructional positions.

    Research Staff

    Research Associate and above, including research faculty.

    Assistant Research Scientists

    Not all types of Assistant Research Scientists qualify. “Research Associate” positions qualify if they meet the baseline requirements above. For other types of Researchers, please inquire with the Office of International Programs and Partnerships to inquire about sponsoring a J-1.

    Technical Staff

    Computer, business and related technical specialties can qualify, but they must meet the baseline requirements above.

    Managerial/Executive

    Most positions will qualify, if they require a minimum a bachelor’s degree in a specialty field plus experience.

    Types of positions we are unable to sponsor

    • Positions that do not require, at minimum, a bachelor’s degree in a specialty field.
    • General administrative positions, or those that do not meet the regulatory minimum requirements for a professional, specialty field.  If a Bachelor’s degree is required, but the field is not specified, or if the job could be equally well filled by individuals with bachelor’s degrees in a variety of unrelated fields, it will not qualify.
    • Positions that are not paid solely by UTRGV payroll – for example, Fellowships and similar positions where 3rd parties pay stipends, etc.
  • My department wants to hire a foreign national, but the person needs a work visa. How do I know what type, and what office to go to for help?

    IS focuses exclusively on employer-sponsored professional work visas, as well as certain types of visas for artists and performers who may have engagements at UTRGV.  Beyond the categories we focus on, there are other types of visas used for the variety of international visitors who come to work, perform, or do research at UTRGV.  Often the type of visa needed is determined by the type of visit, and other factors.

  • How does IS determine eligibility?

    We look at several factors to be sure that the strategy mapped out will best suit the needs of the hiring department, the person, and UTRGV:

    • The type of job being offered, and the duties of the specific job
    • Any limitations to the appointment
    • The needs of the hiring department
    • The individual’s education and professional background
    • The individual’s immigration history and travel plans
  • What are the hiring unit’s responsibilities?

    All of the matters we handle are employment-based, which means that the hiring department is responsible for compliance at the department level.  The department Chair and the administrator(s) appointed to handle immigration matters are responsible for ensuring that they can carry out these responsibilities.  Regardless of the type of nonimmigrant work visa case, the department must:

    • Contact IS immediately when a foreign national (FN) emerges as a top choice in the applicant pool;
    • Appoint one central administrator (preferably at the Home Department Coordinator level or above) to liaise with IS on faculty and staff immigration matters;
    • Work with the FN to gather all information and materials required for processing;
    • Pay all required government fees, including Premium Processing;
    • Submit a properly completed request to IS in a timely fashion, as far in advance of the start date as possible (8 months strongly recommended);
    • Comply with, and respond timely to, all IS communications and requests throughout processing;
    • Ensure the FN is employed as represented within the petition submitted to the USCIS;
    • Contact IS immediately if any changes to FN employment are contemplated;
    • Contact IS immediately if the FN is being terminated or if he/she resigns;
    • Ensure the underlying work visa status for the FN is extended until the person either departs UTRGV or has a green card in hand. Merely starting the green card process does not mean that the nonimmigrant status can be allowed to lapse;
    • Alert IS immediately if a USCIS Fraud Detection Officer visits the FN or the department; and,
    • Read IS website for updated immigration and policy information that may affect their FN population.
  • What is a Visa?

    When IS uses the word “Visa”, we mean the multi-colored visa stamp laminated into the individual’s passport.

    Visa stamps are issued by U.S. Consulates abroad.  They take in the application, determine if the person qualifies, and issue the visa stamp.

    The visa stamp allows the person to request entry to the United States in the “status” noted on the stamp.  Note that the visa only allows the person to request entry; an officer at the border, usually a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer, will inspect the person and grant the entry request.

  • What is Status?

    When an international traveler requests entry to the U.S., the CBP officer will determine what “status” to grant the person.   Status roughly equates to the person’s “reason” or “purpose” for being in the United States.  For example, a person admitted in H-1B status has the objective of working as a specialized professional.  An F-1 student has the objective of studying, etc.

    A person can be admitted in one status, and change to another status as their situation changes, without leaving the United States and obtaining another visa stamp.  This is common with F-1 students who change status to H-1B.

  • What types of work visas/status does IS handle?

    • H-1B Professionals in Specialty Occupations

    • TN Trade NAFTA Professionals

    • O-1 Aliens of Extraordinary Ability

    • E-3 Australian Professionals

  • How is H-1B Processing Handled at UTRGV?

    H-1B status is used at Utrgv for degreed professionals in specialty fields, where the university wants to employ the person for several years.  How we handle H-1B sponsorship is informed by both Federal regulations and UTRGV’s internal institutional policies and systems.

    At UTRGV, all H-1B requests must be submitted by the department to IS.

    The UTRGV Job Offered Must Qualify for H-1B Status

    • Must be Listed in the UTRGV Job List
    • Must Meet the Minimum Education Requirement
      • Per Federal regulations, the job offered must require a Bachelor’s degree or higher, and must require that the degree be earned in a specific field, or closely related group of fields (e.g. Electronic Engineering or Computer Science, not Electronic Engineering or Business).
    • Must Pay the Required H-1B Wage
      • The H-1B wage will be analyzed by IS once the completed request is received.  The regulations require the department to pay either the “actual wage” paid to similar positions in the department or the “prevailing wage” established by U.S. Department of Labor Data, whichever is higher.
    • Must be Fully Benefits-Eligible
      • The position must be eligible for full, regular UTRGV benefits for faculty and staff.
    • Must be full-time

    The Person Must Qualify for H-1B Status

    The individual must possess the minimum education and experience required for the H-1B job, and have no background issues that would prevent them taking up H-1B status.

    Duration

    • H-1B status can be requested for up to three years at a time.
    • An individual may remain in H-1B status for up to 6 years. To extend beyond the 6th year, permanent residence processing for the person must have reached an advanced stage that allows the H-1B to be extended.
  • How is TN Processing Handled at UTRGV?

    The TN visa was created under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).  It is reserved for Citizens of Canada and Mexico.  TN status permits the individual to work in a position that is on the narrow list of occupations allowed by the treaty.  How we handle TN sponsorship is informed by both Federal regulations and UTRGV’s internal institutional policies and systems.

    TN holders must intend to return to their home country at the end of their TN stay.  In other words, they cannot have U.S. legal permanent residence as an objective when entering the U.S.

    At UTRGV, all TN requests must be submitted by the hiring department to IS.

    The UTRGV Job Offered Must Qualify for TN Status

    • The occupation must be listed in the NAFTA Treaty Appendix , and must require a Bachelor’s degree or higher in a specialty field.
    • The job must be listed in the UTRGV Job List
    • The job must meet the minimum education requirements in both the NAFTA Treaty Appendix and the UTRGV Job List.
    • The department must be offering a full-time, fully benefits-eligible position.

    The Person Must Qualify for TN Status

    The individual must possess the minimum education and experience required for the TN job, and have no background issues that would prevent them taking up TN status.

    Duration:

    TN status can be requested for up to 3 years at a time.

    TN Processing Times at UTRGV

    Requests are submitted by the department to IS.  Processing cannot begin until all of the required information and materials are complete.  We advise departments to submit to IS a full 6 months prior to the needed start date.  Later submissions carry an increasing risk that the need cannot be met.

    Total processing time varies, depending on the factors each case presents and whether the case involves Port of Entry Inspection or a USCIS filing.  A projected processing timeline will be sent to the individual and the department when processing begins.

    • Stage 1:  Processing at IS:  For either Port of Entry Inspection or USCIS filing:  4 Weeks.
    • Stage 2:  Government Processing:
      • Via Port of Entry (POE): Variable.
      • Via USCIS Filing: 15 Days. Does not include delays that may result from a USCIS Request for Evidence (RFE).
    • Stage 3:  Approval Document Delivery:
      • Via Port of Entry Inspection (POE): Immediate.
      • Via USCIS Filing: 14 days.

    Maintaining TN Status

    TN employment is limited to what is described on the request to the government.  If the person’s employment is changing, or the person is changing employers, a new request needs to be made.

    An individual may work for two TN employers, if both have approved TN authorization to employ that person.

    TN extension requests should be made to IS a full 6 months in advance.  The individual and the department are jointly responsible for making sure the request comes to us timely.

    Visa Stamps and Traveling as a TN

    Depending on the specific factors involved, IS will discuss this at the outset of the case.

    TN Dependents:  TD Status

    TD status is available for the spouse and children (under 21) of a TN holder.  This will be discussed at the outset of the case. TD holders are not authorized to work

  • How is O-1 Processing Handled at UTRGV?

    O-1 Extraordinary Ability status is used at UTRGV for people with a substantial, sustained record of nationally or internationally recognized career accomplishments, where there are compelling strategic reasons to utilize the O-1 category. How we handle O-1 sponsorship is informed by both Federal regulations and UTRGV’s internal institutional policies and systems.

    At UTRGV, all O-1 requests must be submitted by the department to IS.  Typically, the initial O-1 petition is prepared by our Immigration Manager, after they he determines that the individual qualifies and it is an appropriate category that meets the needs of the person and the department. 

    The Person Must Qualify for O-1 Status

    The initial analysis for qualifying factors will be done by our Immigration Manager.

    To qualify, the individual must show that he or she has received a major, internationally recognized award (such as the Nobel Prize or the Academy Award).  Alternatively, the individual may demonstrate that they meet at least three of the eight regulatory criteria necessary to show national or international recognition for sustained career accomplishments.

    It is important to note that meeting three of the eight criteria will not necessarily guarantee the approval of O-1 visa status.  The reviewing USCIS officer will ultimately decide on a subjective basis whether the individual qualifies.

    The USCIS typically sets a high standard for qualifying as a person of extraordinary ability under the O-1 visa.  Applicants should possess substantial documentation showing that their qualifications lift them well above the norm for their field.

    Duration

    • Initial O-1 status can be granted for up to three years at a time.
    • Subsequent extensions are typically for one year at a time, unless there is a new assignment to a new position.

     O-1 Processing Times at UTRGV

    Requests must be submitted by the department to IS.

    We advise departments to submit to IS a full 6 months prior to the needed start date.  Later submissions carry an increasing risk that the need cannot be met.

    Total processing time varies, depending on the factors each case presents.

    • Stage 1:  Pre-Filing Processing:  The amount of information and documentation required to prepare an O-1 petition can be daunting.  In cases where letters of recommendation are necessary, this can add to processing time.  A typical initial O-1 petition averages 4-6 months to prepare to file.  Extensions are not as lengthy.
    • Stage 2:  Government Processing:  All UTRGV O-1 cases are submitted via the USCIS Premium Processing Program.  Typically, this takes 15 days.  However, in some cases, the USCIS may issue a Request for Evidence (RFE).  This can delay processing, commensurate with the nature of the RFE.
    • Stage 3:  Approval Document Delivery:  The USCIS mails the original approval notice to IS, which can take 7-14 days from the time of decision.  If the individual is abroad, the notice must then be sent to them so that they can go to a U.S. Consulate to obtain a visa stamp in their passport and enter the USA in O-1 status.  This can take an additional 2 weeks or more.

    Maintaining O-1 Status

    • O-1 employment is limited to what is described on the H-1B petition.  If the person’s employment is changing, or the person is changing employers, a new petition may need to be submitted to the government before the change can take place.
    • Sometimes, a person may work for two O-1 employers if both have been named in the petition or its underlying documentation.  This is especially true in the performing arts.  If there is a question, IS can look at the petition to make a determination.
    • O-1 extension requests should be made to IS a full 6 months in advance.

    Visa Stamps and Traveling as an O-1

    • Visit our Travel page

    O-1 Dependents:  O-3 Status

    O-3 status is available for the spouse and children (under 21) of the O-1 visa holder.  This will be discussed at the outset of the case.  Generally, O-3 dependents are not authorized to work.

  • How is E-3 Processing Handled at UTRGV?

    E-3 status is used at UTRGV for degreed professionals in specialty fields, where the university wants to employ the person for several years.  How we handle E-3 sponsorship is informed by both Federal regulations and UTRGV’s internal institutional policies and systems.

    At UTRGV, all E-3 requests must be submitted by the department to IS.

    The UTRGV Job Offered Must Qualify for E-3 Status

    • Must be Listed in the UTRGV Job List
    • Must Meet the Minimum Education Requirement: Per Federal regulations, the job offered must require a Bachelor’s degree or higher, and must require that the degree be earned in a specific field, or closely related group of fields (e.g. must require Electrical Engineering or Computer Science, not Electrical Engineering or Business).
    • Must Pay the Required E-3 Wage:  The E-3 wage will be analyzed by IS once the completed request is received.  The regulations require the department to pay either the “actual wage” paid to similar positions in the department or the “prevailing wage” established by U.S. Department of Labor Data, whichever is higher.
    • Must be Fully Benefits-Eligible:  The position must be eligible for full, regular UTRGV benefits for faculty and staff.
    • Must be full-time.

    The Person Must Qualify for E-3 Status

    The individual must be an Australian national.  Additionally, they must possess the minimum education and experience required for the E-3 job, and have no background issues that would prevent them taking up E-3 status.

    Duration:  E-3 status can be requested for up to two years at a time.

    E-3 Processing Times at UTRGV

    Requests are submitted by the department to IS.  Processing cannot begin until all of the required information and materials are complete.  We advise departments to submit to IS a full 8 months prior to the needed start date.  Later submissions carry an increasing risk that the need cannot be met.

    Total processing time varies, depending on the factors each case presents.  A projected processing timeline will be sent to the individual and the department when processing begins.

    There are two processing paths for E-3 status:

    Consular Processing

    Can be used where the individual is waiting outside the United States to enter in E-3 Status.

    • Stage 1: IS Processing:  Approximately 6 weeks from time request materials are complete.  Specific case issues may require additional processing, for example to obtain a prevailing wage, an Export Control determination, or address other issues. This can delay processing from 2 weeks to 3+ months.  Every effort is made to spot issues early in processing, so that they can be factored in to the estimated timeline for the individual case.
    • Stage 2: Consular Processing:  Varies.  Typically 2 to 4 weeks, depending on speed at the U.S. Consulate.  The department will forward the E-3 request documentation prepared by IS to the individual at their home address in Australia via secure courier.  They can then apply for an E-3 visa at their nearest U.S. Consulate and enter the United States.

    USCIS Processing

    Can be used where the person is already in the United States and does not wish to return to Australia for Consular Processing.

    • Stage 1: IS Processing:  Approximately 6 weeks from time request materials are complete.  Specific case issues may require additional processing, for example to obtain a prevailing wage, an Export Control determination, or address other issues. This can delay processing from 2 weeks to 3+ months.  Every effort is made to spot issues early in processing, so that they can be factored in to the estimated timeline for the individual case.
    • Stage 2:  Government Processing:  All UTRGV E-3 cases are submitted via the USCIS Premium Processing Program.  Typically, this takes 15 days.  However, in some cases, the USCIS may issue a Request for Evidence (RFE).  This can delay processing, commensurate with the nature of the RFE.
    • Stage 3:  Approval Document Delivery:  The USCIS mails the original approval notice to IS, which can take 7-14 days from the time of decision.  If the individual is abroad, the notice must then be sent to them so that they can go to a U.S. Consulate to obtain a visa stamp in their passport and enter the United States in E-3 status.  This can take an additional 2 weeks or more.

    Maintaining E-3 Status

    • E-3 employment is limited to what is described on the E-3 application or petition.  If the person’s employment is changing, or the person is changing employers, a new petition must be submitted to the government before the change can take place.
    • E-3 extension requests should be made to IS a full 6 months in advance.

    Visa Stamps and Traveling as an H-1B

    • Visit our Travel page

    E-3 Dependents:  E-3/D

    E-3/D status is available for the spouse and children (under 21) of the principal E-3 visa holder.  This will be discussed at the outset of the case.

    E-3/D spouses can work in the U.S. by applying to the USCIS for work authorization using Form I-765.

  • Which office at UTRGV can assist with your international visitor?

    IS deals exclusively with professional work visas, but we are not the whole story!

    This table can help you identify which office to contact: 

    • B-1 Business Travelers:  Payroll
    • F-1 International Students:  International Admissions Services
    • J-1 Exchange Scholars:   Office of International Programs and Partnerships
    • O-1 Performers/Athletes:  IS
    • P-1 Artists, Entertainers/Groups, Athletes:   IS 
    • WB business travelers with a visa waiver:  Payroll
  • What is UTRGV’s Permanent Residence Sponsorship Policy?

    UTRGV will sponsor international faculty and staff for permanent residence (a “green card”), where their employment qualifies and where the department will   support the process.

  • How does permanent residence processing begin?

    Permanent residence is a complex, multi-step process that often takes longer than a year to complete.

    Because of the complexity and length of time it takes, and the number of people involved in the process, we start with a consultation meeting.  The meeting includes the foreign national, the IS Director, the authorized department liaison, and any other interested parties that may be appropriate for that case.  In the consultation, qualifying factors, processing routines, strategy, and fees are discussed.  The consultation lasts approximately 1 hour.

    We strongly recommend that consultations be held for new faculty as soon as they arrive, and for staff as soon as they qualify per the policy.

    The department administrator can contact IS at (956) 665-3025 to book an appointment.

  • How is permanent residence processing strategy set?

    IS has the subject matter expertise, in-house and through our own attorneys, to strategize the best solution for the person and their department.

  • What about costs?

    The department and the university handle costs through the I-140 stage (which can include the costs of testing the labor market, government fees, attorney fees and more).  The individual is responsible for costs associated with the I-485 “green card” application.  Costs and fees will be discussed in detail in the consultation.

  • Can the individual hire an attorney to take care of everything?

    Please note that outside attorneys are not authorized to prepare immigration applications or petitions that require UTRGV sponsorship. Additionally, signatures at the department and school level on these types of petitions/applications are not authorized.

    However, individuals may decide to pursue a self-sponsored permanent residence case independently of the university’s assistance.  IS is happy to provide information on working with U.S. immigration attorneys.