Policy No. 2.01
Policy on visa sponsorship: Berklee will employ qualified individuals who are legally approved to work in the United States as a U.S. citizen, permanent resident (immigrant visa holder), or the holder of a nonimmigrant visa authorizing the holder to legally work in the United States. Employment cannot begin until the proper visa/work authorization has been obtained.
The purpose of this policy is to:
- set consistent standards for qualified candidates and employees regarding Berklee’s sponsorship of U.S. immigrant and nonimmigrant visas,
- define the processes for application, and
control costs for the institution.
Employment of Non-U.S. Workers
Berklee may sponsor employees requiring work authorization visas and, where appropriate, the pursuit of permanent residency. Sponsorship decisions will be made without regard to race, color, religion, gender or gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, age, genetic information, disability, or marital status, in accordance with applicable federal, state, and local laws.
Sponsorship decisions will be based on adherence to U.S. immigration regulations. All departments wishing to sponsor foreign nationals must comply with the following guidelines:
- Work authorization may be obtained in cases where it can be demonstrated that there are insufficient qualified U.S. workers available and willing to perform the work at wages that meet or exceed the prevailing wage.
- Foreign nationals will be employed in specialty occupations that require theoretical and practical application of a body of specialized knowledge.
Decisions to sponsor visas and green cards will also be based on business needs, critical skill gaps, a candidate’s eligibility for sponsorship, and/or an employee’s performance record and work product. Berklee will also consider whether the employee has demonstrated potential to contribute to and grow with Berklee, and whether the employee has exhibited a commitment and a desire to work for Berklee on a long-term basis. Berklee will not sponsor part-time or temporary staff for visas or green cards, nor will it sponsor part-time faculty for a green card.
- If a hiring manager wishes to sponsor a candidate for work authorization or an employee for a green card, they should contact their respective Human Resources partner or Human Resources immigration designee.
- The appropriate departmental and Human Resources approvals are required in advance of hiring and/or sponsoring a non-U.S. employee.
- Approval from the hiring manager and appropriate vice president–level executive of the department/division is required prior to beginning the application process.
Typically, Berklee will utilize the services of a preferred immigration attorney to assist with immigration matters. The candidate will work with Berklee’s Human Resources partner, immigration designee, and/or immigration attorney throughout the filing process. Note the following:
- When assisting an employee with work authorization, Berklee will seek input, guidance, and advice from immigration attorneys to ensure compliance with legal requirements set forth by the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services (BCIS).
- It is expected that sponsored employees will respond in a timely manner to requests from Berklee and/or an immigration attorney for relevant information and documentation. It is also expected that sponsored employees will be completely forthcoming and truthful in all dealings throughout the application process.
All visa holders are responsible for knowing and understanding the terms and conditions of their visas.
Sponsorship for work authorization is not an entitlement of any Berklee employment candidate, employee, or their family members.
Types of Visas
H-, L-, and O-Class Work Visas
H-, L-, and O-class nonimmigrant visas allow foreign employees to work in the U.S. for varying lengths of service. Costs associated with these visas will be paid partially or in their entirety by Berklee. The determination regarding payment of the visa service will be handled on a case-by-case basis, with a decision made at the time of sponsorship and clearly communicated to the qualified candidate or employee.
- Berklee requires a one-year commitment from the employee to remain employed after the visa is obtained or renewed. This expectation is based on the individual meeting all standards of performance and behavior.
- Should an employee voluntarily leave Berklee prior to the completion of one year, they must repay a prorated amount of the cost of sponsorship (based on months worked and amount paid). The employee will not be held responsible for the ACWIA fee, or fraud prevention and detection fees.
- Time commitment by the employee does not create any right for the employee to remain in Berklee’s employment for such a time period or otherwise alter the at-will nature of such employee’s employment at Berklee.
- Should the potential or current employee request expedited/premium processing, they are responsible for paying for any fees associated with premium processing.
- H-, L-, and O-class renewals must be approved by the department head for continued employment.
If an employee is involuntarily terminated on an H-, L-, or O-class visa as a result of a reduction in force, the department is obligated to provide the employee transportation to their last overseas home.
Permanent Residency (Green Card)
A green card allows an employee to gain permanent residency in the United States. Once obtained, no work-related renewals are necessary.
- In general, green card sponsorship is granted only to employees who hold highly specialized positions and/or positions that are deemed to be critical Berklee operations. Additionally, employees who are nearing the end of all other visa options may also be considered for green card sponsorship.
- Berklee employees wishing to pursue permanent residency must possess all of the following prerequisites/qualifications:
- Formal sponsorship from their department.
- At least two years tenure with Berklee.
- Not eligible for an H-, L-, O-, or TN-class renewal. Employees on H status will be considered no earlier than the end of the fourth year of their six-year work authorization window. Employees on L-1B status will be considered no earlier than the end of the third year of their five-year work authorization window. Employees on L-1A status will be considered no earlier than the end of the fifth year of their seven-year work authorization window. Employees on O-status are permitted to extend their O status indefinitely. Therefore, the department must make decisions on a case-by-case basis as to whether the employee should be sponsored for permanent residency in the United States.
- Employees in TN status are not permitted to apply for permanent residence. These employees must have their nonimmigrant status changed to either H-1B or O (preferably H-1B). After the change of application status has been approved, the department will consider sponsoring the employee for permanent residency at the end of their fourth year in H status.
- In no case will a commitment to green card sponsorship be included in an offer letter to a new employee. In no case will an F-1 holder be considered for green card sponsorship.
- Costs associated with a green card may be paid by Berklee. The institution is wholly responsible for all costs associated with all stages of the permanent residency process up until the filing of Form ETA 9089 (the “PERM”). The foreign national can be responsible for the costs associated with the preparation and filing of Form I-140 and Form I-485. The determination of cost sharing will be decided on a case-by-case basis, made at the time of sponsorship, and clearly communicated to the qualified candidate or employee.
- The foreign national will be required to reimburse Berklee all related costs associated with the preparation and filing of Form I-140 and/or Form I-485 should they be terminated for cause or voluntarily resign. In no event can a foreign national be responsible for any costs associated with (1) the filing of the prevailing wage request, (2) recruitment, and (3) the filing of Form ETA 9089. Costs will be reimbursed based on the following schedule:
- Within six months of obtaining permanent residency, the employee must reimburse Berklee 100 percent of the costs incurred in applying for permanent residency.
- Six–12 months after obtaining permanent residency, the employee must reimburse Berklee 75 percent of the costs incurred in applying for permanent residency.
- Twelve–18 months after obtaining permanent residency, the employee must reimburse Berklee 50 percent of the costs incurred in applying for permanent residency.
- Eighteen–24 months after obtaining permanent residency, the employee must reimburse Berklee 25 percent of the costs incurred in applying for permanent residency.
- If termination occurs 24 or more months after obtaining permanent residency, the employee is not required to reimburse Berklee any costs incurred or associated with the application for permanent residency.
Other Types of Visas
Berklee will consider employing individuals with other types of employment visas, including:
- TN (individuals from Canada and Mexico); in this case, the employee is self-sponsored with only minimal support from Berklee.
- F-1 (academic and language training students); F-1 visas are sponsored by the college or university attended by the employee and not by Berklee. They allow for a one-year occupational practical training period. F-1 employees will be hired as temporary employees and may not work beyond the one-year validity of the F-1 visa. Berklee does not automatically offer H-1B sponsorship to F-1 holders.
Berklee reserves the right to amend, suspend or cancel this policy at any time, with or without notice.