Berkeley Lab

Berkeley Lab’s Quick Guide to Hiring/Hosting Specialty Occupation Employees


Visa Type Maximum Duration Cost Timing Recommended For Pros/Cons
H-1B nonimmigrant visa category:  Specialty occupation worker in a position which requires a minimum of a bachelor’s degree. If license is required for position, must hold license. Degree requirement must be common to the industry. Berkeley Lab usually requires a degree for the position. The position announcement / advertisement / description must list the minimum required degree and field(s) of study.
  • From one year up to three years initially (no extra cost added if more than one year initially).
    Maximum extension to six years.
    After one year break outside of U.S., may begin new H-1B period for another six years.
    Extension beyond sixth year permitted in certain cases where employee is in Permanent Residency process
  • Initial Case: Total of $960
  • With Premium Processing: Total of $2,185. Premium Processing is an extra $1,225 (USCIS will process request within 15 calendar days. This does NOT necessarily mean an approval within 15 days. It could mean a request for additional evidence or information.)
  • Amendment: $460 or $1,550
  • Extension: $325 or $1,685
  • Employee to pay for visa application fee: varies (generally $190)
  • One to two months at Berkeley Lab Visa and Immigration Services
  • Six months at the USCIS
  • Fifteen calendar days at USCIS if Premium Processing utilized
  • Must factor in time to apply for and receive visa stamp (if arriving from abroad). Times may vary from a week to several months.
  • Career hires
  • Term employees
  • Postdoc fellows



  • Changes in employment (salary, title, duties, physical location of work, etc.) may require an amendment.
  • Employee should not travel while case is pending at USCIS.
  • Must offer one-way return trip transportation to employee’s home country if employee is terminated prior to H-1B Approval Notice end date.
  • Prior use of H-1B, J-1, or L visas may impact ability to utilize H-1B. Berkeley Lab Visa and Immigration Services will advise.
  • Status carries dual intent whereby employee can seek Permanent Residency, upon Berkeley Lab Visa and Immigration Services review, directly from H-1B status.
  • Paid external employment is not permitted.
  • H-4 dependent spouse cannot work ( with few exceptions).
  • 60 day grace period at end of authorized stay.