Employment of Foreign Nationals
The University of Houston does not discriminate in employment on the basis of national origin. However, all employment offers to foreign nationals must be conditional upon the employee's eligibility to work in the United States. Under no circumstances may an employee of the University of Houston knowingly employ, or contract employment with, an unauthorized noncitizen.
Common Visa Types at UH:
The Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) includes visas for study and cultural exchange. All visas in this category are handled by International Student and Scholar Services and all costs are borne by the beneficiary.
F-1 (Student Visa): A person in F-1 status can work no more than .50 FTE during the long semesters without special approval. An F-1 student can only work for their home university unless granted special dispensation. The status document associated with this visa type is the I-20.
CPT (Curricular Practical Training): In an F-1 student's final year before graduation they can apply to work full-time in CPT status. They typically can only work for their home university and their job must be related to their degree program. CPT status will be noted on the I-20.
OPT (Optional Practical Training): In an F-1 student's final year before graduation or during their first year after graduation, they can work full-time if they have applied for OPT status. The job must be related to their degree program, and they cannot begin employment until they have received their EAD card, even if they have an I-20 stating that their OPT has been granted.
J-1 (Exchange Visitor): A person in J-1 status may work for any appropriate salary and any FTE, as long as the employment is in accordance with the purpose for which the beneficiary is in the United States. This information, along with allowable job types, is noted on the DS-2019. Unlike many other visa types, a J-1 allows for unpaid internships or stipend payments, when appropriate.
Some visa statuses are contingent upon the beneficiary being employed in the United States. Visas in this category are handled by the Immigration Specialist in the Office of the General Counsel. The employer is expected to pay all relevant fees for an employment-based visa.
H-1B (Specialty Occupations): The H-1B visa is exclusively for individuals working in jobs that require at least a bachelor's degree in a specific field. The employer agrees to pay the prevailing wage for the job in question, and also pays all fees associated with the H-1B petition. An employer cannot change the employee's job duties, location, or FTE without filing an amendment. Pay may be increased, but not decreased without an amendment. If the employer wants to terminate an H-1B employee before their visa has expired, they must offer return fare to the employee's most recent country of origin. The limit for H-1B employment is six years, but no more than three years can be petitioned at one time. Please consult the immigration website or the Immigration Specialist for additional regulations regarding H-1B employment.
TN (NAFTA): Under the terms of NAFTA, Mexican and Canadian citizens may work in the United States in treaty-defined jobs and business activities. Please consult the immigration website or the Immigration Specialist for additional information.
Other Statuses Commonly Seen at UH
DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals): DACA allows some undocumented immigrants who were brought into the U.S. as minors to work and study legally while seeking permanent residency or citizenship. Under this status, the DACA beneficiary may work for any employer, at any rate of pay, and any FTE. Persons in DACA status are responsible for all of their own filing fees. Since a person in this status is taxed as a U.S. citizen, no foreign national tax packet is required. However, departments are encouraged to note the DACA status in the ePAR comments or upload a copy of the individual's EAD card, which will say Category C33 on the front.
O-1 (Extraordinary Ability): The O-1 visa is for individuals who possesses extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics, and have been recognized nationally or internationally. O-1 visas must be handled by an outside attorney retained by the individual. Because an O-1 is restricted to specific employment conditions, the hiring department is asked to work closely with the Office of the General Counsel.
Additional questions about foreign national employment should be directed as follows:
- International Student and Scholar Services: Petitions, changes or extensions for persons in F-1, J-1, CPT or OPT status.
- Office of the General Counsel: Petitions, amendments, or extensions for persons in H-1B or TN status. Questions about O-1 employment or UH sponsorship for permanent residency.
- Human Resources: Employability of persons who already have a visa. I-9 questions or concerns. General advice about processing of employment documents, such ePARs. FLSA questions, such as whether a J-1 should be paid via payroll or on a voucher.
- Office Finance, Tax Information: Questions or concerns about a foreign national's tax rates.