The Build Fellowship’s nonprofit partners serve as the petitioners for cap-exempt petitions for 5 hours per week, and the full-time employer is the petitioner for the full-time concurrent employment. As for the timeline, the nonprofit partner’s cap-exempt petition is filed first. On the Build Fellow’s first day, an approval notice and employment verification letter are shared with the employer to include in the concurrent cap-exempt filing, to demonstrate employment with the cap-exempt organization.
Once an individual is approved and working for a cap-exempt organization, a new cap-subject employer can file a petition for concurrent H-1B employment at any time and does not have to go through the H-1B lottery process. The employee can start working for the new H-1B cap-subject employer upon the receipt of the H-1B petition. This is called H-1B portability.
As soon as Build Fellows are approved for a cap-exempt H-1B and start their fellowship, their full-time employer (typically subject to the annual lottery) can immediately file an H-1B for them concurrently.
Institutions of higher education, related or affiliated non-profit organizations, nonprofit research organizations, and government research organizations are generally eligible to sponsor a cap-exempt H-1B visa.
The cap-exempt H-1B visa category allows certain U.S. employers to sponsor foreign nationals for H-1B visas without being subject to the annual H-1B numerical limitations, commonly known as the "H-1B cap." Unlike the regular H-1B category, which is limited by an annual quota set by the U.S. government, the cap-exempt category does not have a numerical limit and can accept applications year-round.
The Build Fellowship by Open Avenues is a nationwide, cap-exempt H-1B visa fellowship offered to foreign nationals who qualify for an H-1B visa in the United States. Fellows obtain a cap-exempt H-1B visa with a Build Fellowship non-profit partner, for whom they are employed 5 or more hours per week and provide mission-advancing work through The Build Fellowship’s programming.
Build Fellows contribute to the social and economic success of the U.S. by working with non-profit partners across the country to offer best-in-class research, published content, 1-on-1 instructional sessions, and guidance to students and the public at large, covering critical knowledge areas ranging from computer science to molecular biology.
The initial period is typically 3 years but can be extended to a maximum of 6 years. However, certain exceptions may allow for a longer stay under specific conditions.
While it varies, the average time a Fellows stays in The Build Fellowship is around one year. Fellows exit the Fellowship when they are selected in the H-1B lottery, change to a new status in the U.S. such as an O-1 or green card EAD, or decide to pursue employment outside of the U.S.
Acceptance into the program requires a compelling application and adequate funding. Qualifications include:
Prospective Build Fellows will need to provide a copy of their job description (if sponsored by their employer), resume / curriculum vitae, degree transcripts, diplomas, and a certified academic evaluation.
Before applying to The Build Fellowship, any degree obtained outside of the U.S. should be evaluated and certified by a credential verification service. We recommend Morningside Evaluations for a quick and cost-effective service.
No, you do not need to be in the United States to apply. You may apply for The Build Fellowship from outside the United States, however, you will need to visit the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in your home country and apply for an H-1B visa. Once you enter the U.S. in H-1B status, you would begin your employment with The Build Fellowship.
Processing times vary but generally take about 2 to 3 months.
Yes, your spouse and children under the age of 21 can accompany you under the H-4 visa category.
Yes, it is possible to transition from a cap-exempt to a cap-subject H-1B visa, but you will need to go through the regular H-1B lottery process for that.
There are three stages of the process to become a Build Fellow: Evaluation & Contracting, Visa Petition, and Employment. Prior to Contracting, we go through Evaluation to ensure candidates are well aligned with the Fellowship role and well positioned for a successful H-1B petition for The Build Fellowship and their full-time employer.
The nonprofit’s cap-exempt petition is filed first. On the Fellow’s first day in the Fellowship and in cap-exempt status we will share the approval notice and an employment verification letter for the full-time employer’s law firm to include in the concurrent cap-exempt filing for your organization, to demonstrate employment with the cap-exempt organization. We advise that the concurrent petition is filed after the cap-exempt employment with the non-profit partner begins. Our goal will be to work with you so that the full-time petition is filed a couple days after a Fellow's start date, as soon as we get the physical approval notice.
The foreign nationals in this program all have two employers, a nonprofit partner (5 hours per week) and the company seeking to employ them full-time (40 hours per week). During their Fellowship, the nonprofit partner controls the employment of the Fellow and facilitates their work with college and university partners. The Build Fellowship’s education team works with Fellows to scope and launch projects in their field of expertise (STEM/Business) for students at partner schools and the general public. As subject matter experts, the Fellows job is to lead these technical projects and work with participants on a weekly basis. The employment for their full-time employer would be controlled by their full-time employer and the duties involved with their full-time role – the same as you would do for a regular cap-subject H-1B petition.
We encourage all our partner companies to register their employees in the H-1B lottery. If your employee is selected in the lottery, you can file a cap-subject H-1B visa, and they will change status and transition out of the Fellowship. If your employee is not selected in the lottery they can stay in our program and no further action is needed.
It is through concurrent employment under 8 CFR 214.2(h)(8)(ii)(F)(6). 8 CFR 214.2(h)(8)(ii)(F)(6) specifically states that the two jobs can be lower than full time or more than full time, as long as “the beneficiary can reasonably and concurrently perform the work described in each employer’s respective petitions”. (6) Concurrent H-1B employment in a cap-subject position of an alien that qualifies for an exemption under section 214(g)(5)(A) or (B) of the Act shall not subject the alien to the numerical limitations in section 214(g)(1)(A) of the Act. When petitioning for concurrent cap-subject H-1B employment, the petitioner must demonstrate that the H-1B beneficiary is employed in valid H-1B status under a cap exemption under section 214(g)(5)(A) or (B) of the Act, the beneficiary's employment with the cap-exempt employer is expected to continue after the new cap-subject petition is approved, and the beneficiary can reasonably and concurrently perform the work described in each employer's respective positions.
Both the nonprofit partner and the full-time employer must pay the fair wage, done through a salary share – a split of the full-time salary the company is offering to the employee. Based on the full-time salary being offered to the employee, The Build Fellowship calculates 5 hours per week at the fair prevailing wage for the employee's specialty occupation and invoices the full-time employer in quarterly increments for that amount. The full-time employer pays the remainder directly to the employee as the full-time pay. We send the breakdown to inform the employer the amount that will go on the full-time employers LCA and ours and will work with you to ensure both organizations are compliant.
An employee is able to start employment with the full-time employer when the concurrent petition is received by USCIS. It is fine to use regular processing for the concurrent petition. If a concurrent petition receives an RFE for maintenance of cap-exempt H-1B status with a nonprofit partner, it is easier to show maintenance for several months rather than several weeks, thus favoring regular processing.
Occasionally, we see the concurrent petition receive an RFE to confirm the employee is still working in The Build Fellowship for five hours per week. If this occurs, we share paystubs and evidence of the work product from their employment in The Build Fellowship.