I am an Indian citizen and I hold a PhD from a US university. I am currently working in France on a Scientific/D visa. I have accepted a position in the USA at a university as a "teaching assistant professor". The US job was to start in August 2014 but I have been granted a leave of absence (l.o.a) until August 2015. This l.o.a was granted to me by the US university because they prefer I work in France for a year (until 2015) to improve my professional skills. However, they wanted me to sign a contract to start this year so that they may grant an l.o.a for one year (to avoid future lack of funding issues).
I will need a H1 visa for the job in the USA. Can I have the US university petition for an H1 right now so that I may attend the visa interview at a US consulate in France or should I have them petition for it for next year (2015)?
As I understand, since the offer letter I signed shows a starting date of Aug 2014, I am in the clear to have an H1 visa interview this year despite not joining the job until Aug 2015.
Am I wrong about something? This information will prove useful when I have a teleconference with my employers in the USA and also help my current employers figure out if I will be applying for a US visa this year or next and from where (France or India).