University of Wisconsin–Madison

H-1B Toolkit

This toolkit is for HR administrative staff.
For general information about H-1Bs (Professionals in a Specialty Occupation), visit H-1B for International Employees.


New H-1B

Begin the H-1B request process at least 6-7 months before the employee’s anticipated start date, if you can. The more time we have, the better.


Begin the H-1B request process 6 months before the employee’s current H-1B expiration date, if you can. You will not be able to start an extension more than 6 months before the current H-1B expiration date in Terra Dotta, our online immigration software. Federal law also prohibits us from filing an H-1B more than 6 months before the petition start date.

Portability (Transfers)

Consult IFSS. Generally, we need at least 1-2 months, but we will advise on a case by case basis. As always, the more time we have, the better.

General Process

The H-1B non-immigrant application is a three-step process involving both the Department of Labor (DOL) and the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). This process is a partnership between IFSS, the hiring unit, and the applicant/employee (also known as the beneficiary). H-1B applications are initiated by the hiring unit through an online immigration software called Terra Dotta System (TDS).The hiring unit is encouraged to contact IFSS with any questions about the H-1B process and to discuss procedures if you are not familiar with filing an H-1B application.

Step 1 – Initiate the H-1B Request

For new H-1Bs and portability (transfer) H-1Bs, the hiring unit will submit a New Sponsorship Request within TDS.

Once the New Sponsorship Request is approved for an H-1B by IFSS, you must log into TDS again and find the Scholar’s card in the Pending tab. Once you click on the Scholar’s card in Pending, you will see the following tabs:

  • Department

    This tab contains information about the position, such as title, salary, job location, etc. This tab also is where you will enter information regarding the prevailing wage, actual wage and export control. NOTE: at this time, still upload the paper Export Control form as well. We need that to send to the Export Control office until we have developed a workflow in TDS for that process.

  • Beneficiary

    This tab is intended for the employee to fill out, but you can view it to see whether or not your employee has completed it and send reminders to the employee, if needed.

  • Additional Information

    This tab is customized and contains information IFSS needs to know to process the H-1B that isn’t included in the stock content TDS provided.

    IFSS has “assigned” additional content to each of you. Therefore, information you see as the hiring unit is different from what the employee will see.

  • Processing

    This tab is intended to help IFSS gather information with reference to USCIS forms.

  • Documents

Hiring units are responsible for completing the Department tab, Additional Information tab, Processing tab, and uploading documents into the Document tab.

Your employee is responsible for filling out the Beneficiary tab, Additional Information tab, and will be required to upload documents into the Document tab as well.

Important! Before moving to any new page/tab, save the information (with the Save button at the bottom of the page) before navigating to the new page/tab. You will see a green “Saved Successfully” box in the upper right-hand corner of your dashboard to confirm your changes saved.

For H-1B extensions, amendments and concurrent petitions, find the Scholar card in the Active tab in TDS and click on the card. Scroll all the way to the bottom and select “Apply H-1B Extension” in the lower right-hand corner. You will see the same tabs, as listed above. Fill out all tabs again and upload the documents again as well. Your employee will also be responsible for going into TDS and filling out their tabs and uploading their documents again as well.

Please order the filing fee checks from Business Services at this time as well. See the Filing Fees section below for more information.

Step 2 – Wage Determination and LCA

When the Department tab is completed by the hiring unit, IFSS can determine the minimum wage the UW must pay for the position.

Please be sure to include on the Department tab a detailed position description, if there is no PVL or PVL waiver for this position. Ideally, 5-6 sentences or more of specific work responsibilities. Do not be vague or general in your description. For example:

General description: will perform research in the lab and assist with writing grants and publishing papers

Detailed description: will perform biomedical research in the lab or Dr. Bucky Badger. Incumbent will lead the surgical deployment of invasive and non-invasive neuromodulation devices in small and large animal models. Will also integrate imaging with novel surgical tools to develop minimally invasive surgical procedures for next-generation neuromodulation therapies. Duties also include performing acute and chronic surgeries and associated preparatory work for studies of deep brain stimulation, vagus nerve stimulation, and dorsal root ganglion stimulation in the small and large animal models to facilitate the research projects of trainees/staff. The position is expected to contribute to the publication of papers arising from these data sets, and provide input/help for the writing of grant proposals, but is not required to be the lead for papers/grants.

When the wage determination is completed, IFSS will email you the final wage determination. If you’d like to obtain a preliminary wage determination prior to making an offer to the candidate, please email IFSS directly with the information above. NOTE: if we determine the wage prior to making an offer, even after making the offer and submitting a New Sponsorship Request, the prevailing wage and actual wage information will still need to be entered into TDS again and IFSS will perform an official wage determination (in case new wage data is available that we must use).

In rare circumstances, IFSS may not be able to determine the wage. If this happens, we will need to submit a request to the DOL to make the determination. This can take 3-5 months and will still require IFSS to have all the information above to proceed. Keep in mind, this could significantly delay the employee’s anticipated start date or require your Department to request premium processing when filing the H-1B petition with USCIS. There is currently no way to expedite the DOL wage determination.

After the wage determination is completed, but prior to filing the H-1B petition with USCIS, the UW must submit a Labor Condition Application (LCA) to the DOL attesting to comply with the requirements of the H-1B program. IFSS will file the LCA after the wage determination is completed.

Once the LCA is filed, IFSS will email the hiring unit a copy of the LCA to post in ALL work locations the hiring unit listed in TDS*. If your office office is not in the same building where the employee will work, you must place the LCA in the actual building the employee will work (or email to someone who works in that building to post the LCA for you). The LCA should be posted where other employee notices are posted (for example, break rooms, common areas, copy rooms or any room where all employees can access). The LCA does not contain any information about the employee specifically, only general information about the position you are filling.

*If the employee will work in more than one location on a regular basis, please include all work locations on this LCA that you are aware of at this time. If additional work locations are added later on, please consult IFSS immediately and we can get those added.

According to federal law, LCAs cannot be submitted more than 6 months before the beginning date of the period of employment. Therefore, we cannot submit an H-1B more than 6 months before the beginning date of the period of employment listed in the H-1B application.

Step 3 – Preparation of Form I-129 and I-907

Hiring units will no longer complete these forms. IFSS can generate these forms directly from TDS and will sign on behalf of the UW.

An Export Control form must be completed for every H-1B petition (including new employment, extensions, transfers [portability], amendments and changes). Continue to use the paper Export Control Form and get it signed. Directions for this form are on page 2.

  • Planned projects/activities section: the job title is not a sufficient description of the project and/or activity. If there is a PVL associated with this position, you may put “See PVL #[add number]” in that section. The description should not be vague (i.e. “research and teaching”). It should be more specific (i.e. research in what? Teaching what and to whom?).
  • Once the form is filled out and signed, enter the information into the Export Control section of the Department tab in your employee’s TDS profile. Type the name of the person who signed the form in the Authorization space at the end of the Export Control section.
  • Finally, upload the Export Control Form into the Documents tab under the category Position Description/Other and add the description “Export Control Certification”.

Additional Documentation for Dependents (H-4 status) – Only if necessary

It is the employee’s responsibility to file necessary paperwork if they have a dependent spouse or child(ren) that need to change or extend H-4 status. Hiring units will not complete this paperwork, nor will IFSS. However, as a courtesy to the employee, if the UW is filing a petition for the employee, we are happy to mail the dependents petition to USCIS in the same package so that USCIS receives all applications at the same time. USCIS will no longer process H-4 applications at the same time as the H-1B application.

Please see Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status for more information.

List of suggested documentation to include with the I-539 – see last row only for H-4 documentation.

Filing Fees

  • All checks must be separate and payable to: U.S. Department of Homeland Security
  • To request a check through Business Services, follow the normal procedures in your Department.

All check requests must be accompanied with this pre-signed Check Custodian Form. Business Services will contact IFSS to pick up the checks when they are ready.

UW institutions other than UW–Madison: IFSS will request the appropriate filing fees.

Standard Processing Fee

  • $460
  • Required for all petitions
  • UW check only

Anti-Fraud Fee

  • $500
  • Only if this is the very first UW–Madison petition
  • UW check only

Premium Processing Fee

This additional fee will guarantee that USCIS will make a decision in 15 calendar days.

Note: This does not guarantee approval. A decision can come in the form of an approval, a Request For Evidence (RFE), a Notice of Intent to Deny (NOID), or a denial. We will reach out to the hiring unit immediately if the decision received is an RFE, NOID, or denial.

To request premium processing, please provide IFSS with the following:

  • Premium Processing Form
    • For business related reasons, the hiring unit should sign the form.
    • If there is no a business related reason, some employees may be able to pay for premium processing on their own (if they choose to do so; we cannot require any employee to pay for this fee). Please consult IFSS so we can check the employee’s eligibility to pay this. For personal requests, the employee should sign the form.
    • We can upgrade to premium processing at any time. It is not required to be submitted with the initial petition.
    • Consult IFSS if you have questions regarding this.
  • $1,440 filing fee (in addition to the above Standard Processing Fee and/or Anti-Fraud Fee)
    • For business related reasons: UW check only.
    • For personal reasons: a personal check or money order from a U.S. Bank is acceptable.

Mailing the Petition

Couriers that already pick up daily at 21 N. Park Street (no need to schedule a pick-up):

  • UPS
  • FedEx

UW institutions other than UW–Madison: IFSS will request the appropriate filing fees.

Standard Processing

USCIS–California Service Center
Attn:  H-1B Cap Exempt Processing
24000 Avila Road, 2nd Floor, Room 2312
Laguna Niguel, CA 92677

Premium Processing

USCIS–California Service Center
Attn:  H-1B Cap Exempt Processing
Premium Processing
24000 Avila Road, 2nd Floor, Room 2312
Laguna Niguel, CA 92677

U.S. Postal Service

IFSS will prepare the mailing label for these shipments.

Making changes to your H-1B employee’s appointment/work location/FTE/etc.?

Fill out the Amendment Petition Determination Form. IFSS will evaluate whether or not we need to notify USCIS before those changes can occur. If an amendment is needed, IFSS will provide guidance on how to do this within TDS, if possible. Please wait for our guidance before entering anything into TDS in these situations.

Note: USCIS will not retroactively approve changes, so it is very important to notify us at least 2-3 months prior to changes occurring.

H-1B employee leaving the UW?

Continue to notify IFSS of an employee leaving by using the Departure Form.


  • Before leaving the UW, remind your employee to update his or her Glacier account.
  • Enter a term date in Compli-9 on this employee’s I-9.