International Scholar Services Processing

Processing Timelines and Case Prioritization

International Scholar Services prioritizes cases in accordance with the following general priorities-

  • Desired start date of the appointment
  • The end date of the individual's current legal stay in the USA, if they are already in the US
  • Legal limitations or rules about when requests may be submitted to government agenices
  • Pre-existing travel plans, if any
  • Other relevant concerns or obstacles, if any

Our overarching goal is to ensure approval of the requested status in time for the proposed activities to start as scheduled. 

We understand that hiring units and individuals need to be able to plan around request processing. We offer the following general guidelines, subject to the prioritizations listed above.

  • Requests for USCIS petitions
    • for H-1B status- 2 months*
    • For E-3 or TN status- 4 to 5 weeks
  • Requests for Consular paperwork (individual is in their home country)
    • For E-3 status (Australian citizens only)- 3 weeks
    • For TN Status (Mexican citizens)- 3 weeks
  • Requests for TN Border paperwork (individual is in their home country)
    • For TN status (Canadian citizens)- 3 weeks

* Please note that US law does not permit us to begin submitting paperwork to the government in connection with H-1B requests more than 6 months prior to the requested start date. The initial government submission for H-1B status is the LCA submission to the Department of Labor. Accordingly, if a request for H-1B status is submitted more than 6 months in advance of the start or extension date, preparation will not begin until the 6 month point is reached.

Request Intake

Requests for petition processing are submitted to International Scholar Services by the ISS Liaison for your hiring unit. If you want to know whether petition processing has been initiated, please check with the ISS Liaison first.

Once a request is submitted, processing generally involves the following steps-

  1. Data and Document Collection
    • You will receive an email from our online immigration portal ('Connect.ISS') with a hyperlink to a series of online questionnaires you must submit. The questionnaires will ask for information and documents. Yes, we need everything requested in the eforms. 
    • We also must receive documents and information, via eforms, from your hiring unit. Sometimes this is where delay occurs.
    • The hiring unit also is responsible for providing the government filing fee checks required to submit the petition to the USCIS, and a support letter from your supervisor.
  2. Analysis
    • Once all eforms are submitted, International Scholar Services must complete a series of analyses in collaboration with other offices on campus. Even though you will not 'see' any of this work, rest assured it is happening. The analysis stage can last up to 2 - 3 weeks.
Labor Condition Applications (Form eta 9035)

The law requires the employer submit a Form eta9035 Labor Condition Application to the Department of Labor. The LCA summarizes the terms and conditions relating to the employment, such as the worksite and wages. DOL processing may take up to 11 business days. Once the petition is approved, International Scholar Services provides a copy of the LCA to the worker.

USCIS Petitions Form I-129

Overview of USCIS Petition Processing

Requests for H-1B visa status must be made on a Form I-129 Petition, which is submitted to USCIS. Requests for extensions or renewals of TN or E-3 status may be submitted to USCIS on a Form I-129 petition.

USCIS posts its average processing times on its website. When looking up the average processing time for a case, note

  • The form is a Form I-129
  • The Form Category is the visa status classification being requested in combination with whether the request is-
    • New (the worker is outside the USA at the time of filing)
    • Change (the worker is in the USA in a differnet visa status than what is being requested)
    • Extension (the worker is in the USA, and at Purdue, and in the same status that is being requested)
  • The Service Center is the California Service Center. (This is not optional - we are required by USCIS procedures to file petition petitions at this, and only this, service center.)

International Scholar Services Petition Preparation

The following steps are involved in preparing and filing a USCIS Form I-129 Petition.

  1. Collation and Review
    • Once we complete our analysis of the case, we prepare the Form I-129 petition and its supplements.
    • We print the petition and all supporting paperwork, and the certified LCA issued from the DOL, and collate the final petition bundle.
    • We have a mandatory two-stage review in our office before a petition is approved for filing.
  2. Filing
    • Petitions may be filed via USCIS regular processing or premium processing. This is the choice of your hiring unit.
    • In general-
      • Premium processing is automatically requested for petitions where the beneficiary (the worker)
        • if the desired start date of employment is less than 6 months from the date of filing and the beneficiary (worker) is
          1. In the USA in another non-work authorizing visa status (F-1, J-1, etc.), or
          2. At Purdue in another visa status
          3. Is in another country awaiting petition approval to enter the USA, or
      • Regular processing is automatically requested for petitions where
        • We have more than 6+ months between the completion our our internal processing and the start date of the employment (in other words, there is more than 8 months between the receipt of the request by International Scholar Services and the start date of the employment), or
        • The petition is requesting H-1B status and the worker is already in the USA in H-1 status for another employer. This is because the law has a special provision for this situation: the filing of the H-1B "portability" petition gives rise to an interim work permission that enables the worker to begin employment at Purdue immediately, and lasts as long as needed until the petition is adjudicated. 
        • The petition is extending the same visa status. BY law, the timely filing of a petition to extend status provides an interim work permission to the worker of 240 days, beginning on the date the prior status expires. 
    • An email will be automatically sent to you confirming the filing. This email will also confirm whether the submission was with premium or regular processing.  
  3. Receipt Notice
    • We generally receive a hard copy receipt notice within 10 business days of the date of filing with USCIS. 
    • For premium processed cases, we also will receive an email confirming receipt of the petition within roughly three days from filing. 
    • Once either the hard copy receipt notice or the receipt email arrives, we let you and the hiring unit know.
    • You may use the receipt number to monitor your case within the USCIS system, by accessing its Case Status Online tool.
  4. Requests for Evidence
    • Currently, USCIS is issuing 'Requests for Evidence' in roughly 35% of the cases filed with it. A Request for Evidence ('RFE') is a request by USCIS to clarify an aspect of the petition, or to answer a concern that it has. Often, the USCIS issues an rfe when they have lost paperwork submitted to them with the petition.
    • The online case status will update to indicate that an RFE has been issued as soon as USCIS issues the RFE. However, the USCIS only mails the RFEs - it does not email or fax them - and it can take up to 10 business days to arrive in ISS offices. Please be patient.
    • When International Scholar Services receives an RFE
      • We first evaluate the request internally to determine whether it is a situation of lost documents, USCIS confusion, or a genuine issue to clarify. Often, if the RFE is asking for clarification, the issue is a legal one rather than a factual one, and it requires ISS legal research.
      • Only upon internal analysis do we reach out to the hiring unit and beneficiary (worker). 
    • USCIS sets a default time of 87 days to respond to RFEs. Currently, due to COVID, it also permits an additional 60 days for responses. Notwithstanding this, International Scholar Services' goal is to submit the response to the RFE as fast as practicable, given our total caseload and the desire for the response to be complete and optimal.
    • There is only ONE chance to respond to an RFE. If the response does not answer all concerns - including those not necessarily overtly raised by USCIS - the USCIS may deny the petition. ISS' priority therefore is to ensure the response is the best possible response to the issues raised. 
  5. Approval
    • Once adjudication is complete, USCIS will issue their decision. 
    • The online case status will immediately update to indicate the USCIS decision as soon as it is issued.  It can take up to 10 business days for the hard copy approval notice to arrive in International Scholar Services offices. Workers require the hard copy approval notice. By law the email is informative but not legal documentation of the approval. Please be patient.
Requests for TN or E-3 Status at US Consulates or the US-Canada Border

Requesting the Service from International Scholar Services

The hiring unit is responsible for submitting requests for E-3 or TN paperwork. The request is submitted to International Scholar Services by the ISS Liaison for your hiring unit. If you want to know whether the request has been initiated, please check with the ISS Liaison first.

TN Only-- Individuals Must Not Apply for TN Status by Themselves

Information online suggests that an individual may apply for TN status on their own, with merely their offer letter and a limited amount of other documentation. These webpages do not highlight the fact that while that is all that might be required at a border post, it is NOT the totality of the employer's administrative and legal obligations.

The presence of a TN worker on Purdue's campus triggers not only the immigration rules, but also other US laws, as well as University policies and procedures. The hiring unit MUST submit the request to International Scholar Services, as explained above.

International Scholar Services Processing of E-3 or TN Requests

Once a request is submitted to International Scholar Services, intake is complete, and our analysis is complete, we issue to the individual a bundle that includes

  • Instructions (depending on which request is in question)
  • A Letter detailing the legal elements involved
  • A Support Letter from your Hiring Unit that confirms the employment offer
  • E-3 Only-- a Form eta 9035 Labor Condition Application

Australian and Mexican citizens must first apply for a visa to enter the USA. Information about visa applications is found elsewhere on our website. The individual then must follow the directions for admission.

After the USCIS Approval or the TN / E-3 Admission
What happens next depends on your situation-
  • If a USCIS petition was filed on your behalf
    • Update your records. Download the electronic copy of your approval and petition from Purdue's Filelocker system as soon as you get the email instructing you these are available. The documents are available for only 30 days.
    • If you are outside the USA
      • And will be seeking admission to the USA to begin your Purdue employment
        • We will ship the approval notice to you within 3 business days of receiving it in our offices. When we ship the document, you will receive an email with the Federal Express tracking number for the shipment.
        • Follow the steps for visa application (if applicable) and admission to the USA.
    • If you are in the USA at another institution
      • To request the hard copy, you FIRST must complete your online checkin.
      • When you arrive at Purdue you must make arrangements to request your original documents from our office.
    • If you are studying or employed at Purdue at the time the petition is approved
Common Questions


If you are still completing the degree program that is qualfiying you for the offered employment (e.g. your PhD) answer the questions with respect to the highest degree you have completed. We will file the petition with USCIS before you finish the current degree program, and we must document that you hold no less than a bachelor's degree. When you finish your current degree program, you can update the Connect.ISS record.

Non-English documents

If a document is not in English, it must be translated. International Scholar Services does not provide or facilitate translations. Certified translations are no longer required by government agencies. A colleague or friend might be able to perform the translation. Sometimes, Purdue's School of Languages and Cultures can assist. A Certificate of Translation should be attached to the original document and translated document. An example of a Certificate of Translation is shown below.

I, ___________________________, am competent to translate from ________________ into English, and certify that the translation of __________________________________ is true and accurate to the best of my abilities
Signature of Translator

Name of Translator

Address of Translator

Telephone Number of Translator