Immigration FAQs

General Immigration

The Office of Visa & Immigration Services & Advisors (VISA) facilitates and processes all nonimmigrant petition requests for the university. The position requirements and an individual’s previous experience and qualifications will determine the appropriate visa category. Most commonly our office requests H-1B, J-1, O-1, and TN visa status on behalf of CWRU employees requiring work visa sponsorship.

Your spouse and minor children may be eligible for dependent visa status to accompany you; however, you are responsible for preparing the application and maintaining your dependents' status. The VISA Office can assist in a limited capacity. 

Please contact the VISA Office at or 216.368.6964 to determine the appropriate nonimmigrant status for the potential hire and the appropriate application procedures. 

Your direct supervisor and your department will determine the appropriateness of sponsorship, in consultation with the VISA Office. For additional information, please visit For questions or concerns regarding the timeline and/or process of sponsorship for permanent residence at CWRU, please contact the VISA Office at or 216.368.6964.

Please contact the VISA Office at to arrange an appointment to discuss your potential tax-treaty benefits.

If you are having an immigration-related emergency during normal business hours (Monday - Friday, 8:30 am - 5:00 pm, except holidays), please contact the VISA Office at 216.368.6964. If an emergency immigration-related issue arises outside of normal business hours, please contact CWRU Public Safety at 216.368.3333. They will help you get in touch with a member of the VISA Team.

Your Form I-94 (Arrival/Departure Record) and travel history can be accessed through the CBP website. Please be sure to download your Form I-94 as soon as possible after every entry to the United States, and review it to confirm it lists the correct visa status and expiration date. Please note: The expiration date listed on your Form I-94 is your last date of authorized stay in the United States. You are responsible for ensuring your Form I-94 is accurate. If you identify an error on your Form I-94, please contact the VISA Office immediately for guidance on how to correct it.

Every nonimmigrant in the United States must notify USCIS of any change of address within 10 days of the change by completing Form AR-11 by mail or online. The form can be found at the following link: Be sure to forward a copy of the address change to the VISA Office at In addition, please login to HCM to update your address in the university records.

Individuals with pending matters at USCIS can check the status of their case online at using your USCIS receipt number. Please contact the VISA Office if you do not have a copy of your receipt notice. 

The Department of State releases a Visa Bulletin each month which provides information on priority dates. Visit for the current and upcoming Visa Bulletins, as well as additional information on how the visa availability process works. 

J-1 Visa

This category is for a foreign national who enters the United States for the primary purpose of conducting research, observing or consulting in connection with research projects at research institutions, corporate research facilities, museums, libraries, post-secondary accredited academic institutions or similar types of institutions. A research scholar may also teach or lecture unless disallowed by the sponsor.

The research scholar or professor’s appointment to a position shall be temporary, even if the position itself is permanent. Incidental lectures or short-term consultations are permitted with the approval of the responsible officer so long as they are directly related to the objectives of the participant's program, and do not delay the exchange program’s completion date.

The J-1 program is designed to allow the exchange visitor an enriching cross-cultural opportunity to gain mutual understanding of diverse backgrounds and customs. They will learn new skills and techniques that can be taken back to their home country to enhance the country’s growth and development.

There are many significant differences between H-1B status and the J-1 status for researchers, including professors. The most appropriate status will be determined on a case-by-case basis. Please find a general overview of the major differences between H-1B and J-1 in Visa Information.

No. The U.S. State Department does not have a system to speed up the J-1 process. Each application typically takes a month or so to process at the consular level or 90 days at the California Service Center if changing status.

It is the responsibility of the department to request an extension to a J-1 program. IHRS asks that all paperwork is in their office two weeks before the end of the appointment. To do an extension, send a new J-1 recommendation form and a new Dean’s appointment letter to IHRS.

PLEASE NOTE: Individuals in J-1 seeking a waiver of INA 212(e) must contact our office in advance of filing a waiver request, as J-1 status cannot be extended once a waiver is obtained.

No. The J-1 visa that is in the passport (entrance visa) is needed only to enter the US. The DS- 2019 an individual carries is the legal document that allows them to stay in the U.S. If the exchange visitor plans on travelling internationally for conferences, then they will need to obtain a new visa stamp before re-entering the United States. This can be renewed in the exchange visitor’s home country.

The J-1 process involves a number of steps. A faculty member needs to bring the request to the department assistant. There are a number of forms that need to be filled out by the department and the prospective exchange visitor. When these are completed, the forms are forwarded to the dean’s office for approval. The dean’s office will process an appointment letter and all the information will be forwarded to our office. When the immigration and HR services team receives the paperwork, a DS-2019 Form will be issued. This is sent by the department to the individual. They can then make an appointment with the consular office for a visa interview. It will take about one week to obtain the visa in the passport. The individual can then purchase a plane ticket. The whole process takes about 90 days. Processing times may vary due to visa wait, administrative, and/or security processing.

A J-1 visa holder can bring their dependents on a J-2 visa. A dependent is considered a spouse or a child of the J-1 holder. For each individual, our team will need the following information: Family Name, Given Name, Date of Birth, City of Birth, Country of Birth, Citizenship, and Country of Residence. It will take a few days to process the J-2 Forms that the individual will then need to use to obtain a J-2 visa stamp at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate.

H-1B Visa

The VISA Office cannot provide an exact time frame, as processing times vary depending on type of application and which office is adjudicating the petition. USCIS guarantees a response in 15 calendar days for petitions which are filed with premium processing; petitions filed with standard processing may take six months or longer.

The base filing fee is $460. First-time applications also require a $500 fraud detection fee. $460 is required for renewals and/or extensions. Case Western Reserve is responsible for paying the $460 and $500 fees. The premium processing fee is $1,225. The department or beneficiary may pay the premium processing fee. The department should always request separate checks payable to “U.S. Department of Homeland Security”.

H-1B visas may be renewed as early as 6 months before the expiration date. The employee’s department should contact our team in order to initiate an H-1B renewal and/or extension. It generally takes our team 4 to 6 weeks to process an application. Paperwork for a renewal should be received by our team at least three months before the expiration date. As long as the application is submitted before the expiration date, the visa holder will remain in status for 240 days or until the application is decided, whichever comes first.

Generally speaking, H-1Bs are permitted a maximum stay of six years in the U.S. Initial appointments may not exceed three years; a minimum stay at Case Western Reserve University is one year, although requests for three years are highly encouraged, when possible.

Family members of H-1B visa holders are entitled to an H-4 visa, which allows them to live in the U.S. with their H-1B spouse or parent. In most instances, H-4 visa holders are not allowed to work while living in the U.S.

The employee should obtain a currently dated employment verification letter from Records. They may take the employment verification letter and the H-1B receipt notice to the nearest BMV to renew his/her license.


An O-1 status is for individuals that demonstrate sustained national or international acclaim for extraordinary ability in sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics.

TN Status

Trade NAFTA (TN) visas are available only to citizens of Canada and citizens of Mexico. TN status is limited to positions listed in Appendix 1603.D.1. of NAFTA.

Green Card

The first step is to start with the employee’s supervisor/principal investigator. The employee must have departmental backing. If an employee is eligible for university-sponsored permanent residency, the department must obtain written authorization from the dean of the respective school the employee works in. Our team will assign the employee’s permanent residency case to outside counsel that has been vetted and approved by the university once we receive written authorization from the dean’s office. The department must provide the dean’s office with the speed type where funds can be withdrawn to pay outside counsel. Employees may not pick an attorney of his/her choosing for university-sponsored petitions. Outside counsel will determine the best route to permanent residency for the employee. Postdoctoral/J-1 positions are not eligible for university-sponsored permanent residency.

An individual may use their own attorney when pursuing a self-filed petition such as an EB-1A (EB-12) Individuals of Extraordinary Ability petition or a National Interest Waiver (NIW) petition; however, any application filed by Case Western Reserve University on behalf of an employee must be prepared and filed by approved outside counsel and should only be signed by the Office of Immigration and HR Services.

The process will vary for each individual depending on the permanent residency avenue that is selected.

OPT / STEM Extension

Individuals who are authorized by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service to accept employment in their academic field (or a closely-related discipline) for a maximum of twelve months.

If an employee is eligible for a STEM extension, they must contact the International Student Services office at the institution where the employee received their degree to renew.