H-1B Temporary Worker Visa Overview

The H-1B temporary worker visa is designated for individuals coming temporarily to the United States to work in a specialty occupation. A specialty occupation is defined as one that requires "theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge, and attainment of a bachelor's or higher degree, or its equivalent, as a minimum requirement."  The H-1B visa is complex, not all CSMC employees are eligible for sponsorship, and preparation requires input from the scholar and the host department. All H-1B requests must start with the hiring department. The Visa & International Services Administration (VISA) office will only process the H-1B application once the complete application packet is received from the department. Outside attorneys are not authorized to petition for H-1B status for any Cedars’ employee without written consent from the VISA office.


The H-1B visa is employer specific, which means that a USCIS approved petition that was submitted by CSMC authorizes the employee to work only in the position specified in the petition. An employee who has an H-1B visa approval from another employer is not automatically eligible to work at Cedars-Sinai. Employees in H-1B status cannot accept funds from another employer or source other than the employer listed in the H-1B application.


H-1B candidates should allow at least 5-6 months for the entire process including the Department of Labor (DOL) and the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) processes.


Dependents of H-1B holders are eligible for H-4 status.   H-4 holders are not eligible to work in the U.S.

Clinical H-1B Visa Sponsorship for Residents and Fellows

Foreign physicians (residents and fellows) who wish to participate in clinical training at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center may be sponsored on an H-1B visa.   The department sponsoring the foreign national is responsible for ALL COSTS associated with the preparation and filing of the H1B petition.   

Once a foreign candidate is matched to a program, the sponsoring department should contact the VISA office immediately for consultation.  Departments should submit the H-1B visa sponsorship request to us at least 6 months prior to the residency/fellowship program start date.  Please click Clinical Visa Sponsorship for Residents and Fellows to review our clinical sponsorship guidelines.

Changing Employers (Portability Provision)

The H-1B is "employer specific" which means that each time a scholar changes employers the new employer has to prepare an entirely new H-1B application. Because any new H-1B application starts with obtaining a new Department of Labor prevailing wage, scholars should plan any change of employment well in advance, or else prepare to leave the U.S. and return later with the new H-1B status.

H-1B regulations (known as "AC21") allow individuals already holding H-1B status to begin employment with a new employer once the new petition is filed with USCIS. The policy at CSMC is that the candidate is not authorized to utilize portability until the VISA office has received the delivery confirmation receipt from FedEx, UPS, USPS, etc. regarding the new H-1B application submission to USCIS. It is also important to understand that filing a new petition with USCIS can take 90 days or longer due to new Department of Labor processing times. The Department of Labor process cannot be expedited.


Six-Year Maximum Length of Stay

H-1B visa holders are eligible for a total maximum stay of six years. The six-year limit includes time spent on the H-1B visa with another employer. The initial H-1B petition may cover a period up to three years. An extension petition may cover an additional three years (or less), totaling to 6 years.

Since this six-year limit is strictly enforced, it is important to plan accordingly. It may be possible to begin another six-year period as an H-1B visa holder after the individual has spent at least one year outside the United States.

Exceptions to the six-year rule: If an individual is at a certain stage in the application of permanent residence, s/he may be eligible for an extension beyond the 6-year maximum. The VISA office may work with the individual to determine if s/he is eligible for the extension beyond the 6-year maximum.

Contact the Visa & International Services Administration Office (VISA) to speak with an Immigration Partner for visa sponsorship beyond the six-year limit.


Note: J-1 Visa holders subject to the two year home residency requirement are not eligible for H-1B visa status unless they return home for two years or obtain a waiver of the requirement from the U.S. State Department, Waiver Review Board.