While changing jobs on an H-1B visa is allowed, it mandates following a formal procedure. To effectuate an H-1B job change:
Obtain a new employer.
The prospective employer submits a Labor Conditions Approval (LCA) outlining the position’s terms.
Await LCA approval, typically taking around 7 days, subject to variation.
The employer files the I-129 form with supporting documents and pays application fees.
Await approval. Unlike the initial petition, you can start working in the new position while awaiting approval.
Though legally viable, changing employers right before or after an H-1B approval may require restarting the entire application process.
Can you transfer your H-1B visa to a new employer?
The H-1B visa ties the employee to a specific sponsoring employer, necessitating a new visa for a change. To elaborate:
An H-1B transfer implies a new employer initiating the visa process for individuals already holding a valid H-1B visa. This involves finding a job and the new employer sponsoring the visa per US government requirements.
How to transfer an H-1B visa to another employer in the US?
The H-1B transfer involves filing a fresh H-1B visa petition, essentially repeating the initial application process. The transfer timeline varies, typically taking 4 to 8 weeks post-application submission.
Qualifications for H-1B Visa Transfer Process
The H-1B visa transfer process involves essential guidelines for both employers and visa holders to comprehend.
Dos for H-1B Visa Transfer Process:
Ensure the visa holder initiates the transfer, not the new employer.
Abide by legal regulations and avoid engaging in any unlawful activities.
Comply with non-compete agreements and laws established with the previous employer.
Uphold the H-1B status and refrain from any actions that may violate its terms.
Honor contractual commitments made with the original employer.
Refrain from commencing work for a new employer until the USCIS issues the I-797C or approves the transfer.
Follow the necessary I-9 procedures diligently.
Don’ts for H-1B Visa Transfer Process:
Avoid having the visa holder file the transfer petition.
Steer clear of conducting any unlawful actions that could jeopardize the transfer process.
Adhere to non-compete laws and agreements established with the previous employer.
Prevent any activities that might lead to a violation of the H-1B visa status.
Avoid breaching contractual obligations made with the former employer.
Refrain from starting work for a new employer until receiving the I-797C from USCIS or obtaining transfer approval.
Do not create duplicate copies of essential documents like I-94 and I-797C.
Documents Needed for an H-1B Transfer
US visa, I-797, and I-94
Paystubs or employer correspondence
University degree, transcripts, and academic evaluations
New employer’s submission: job position, description, company documents
Fee of H1B Visa Transfer
The fees associated with an H-1B visa transfer remain consistent with those involved in filing a standard H-1B petition. These fees include:
Basic filing fee for the I-129: $460
Fraud Prevention and Detection Fee: $500 (not applicable for H-1B extensions)
ACWIA Training Fee: $750 (for employers with fewer than 25 employees) and $1,500 (for employers with 25 or more employees)
Public Law 114-113 fee: $4,000 (required if the employer has over 50 employees, with more than half on H-1B or L-1 status)
Optional premium processing fee: $2,500
It’s important to note that legal firms often have varying fee structures for H-1B visa transfer cases. VisaNation Law Group, for instance, determines its fees after an initial consultation with new clients, considering the unique aspects and potential complexities of each case. For those opting for the regular H-1B cap filing, the attorney fee for H-1B visas with VisaNation Law Group is $2,100. Their fee listings encompass various visa categories such as H-4 visas, H-1B1 visas for Singapore/Chilean Citizens, among others.
Revalidating or Extending Your H-1B Visa
Are you contemplating the renewal or extension of your H-1B visa?
Typically, a U.S. visa is renewed if it matches the classification in your passport that you’re seeking to extend. If you’re currently in a different visa category but aiming for an H-1B visa, a transfer might be more suitable in such cases.
Protocol for H-1B Extension
To proceed with an H-1B extension, follow a specific procedure.
Upon entry into the country, the port of entry officer issues an I-94 in your passport, indicating the validity period for your stay in the U.S.
This date marks the expiration of your H-1B status, necessitating filing for an extension before this status lapses.
The Federal Register’s Final Rule
Effective since January 2017, the Federal Register introduced several changes to H-1B visas, including transfer protocols.
H-1B holders aiming to switch employers within the same occupation must submit the I-485 Supplement J to validate their active H-1B status, enabling an H-1B visa transfer to a new employer.
Expanded Evidence Submission
Under updated regulations, a broader spectrum of evidence beyond approved federal entities can now be submitted.
Consultation with an immigration attorney is crucial to ascertain what qualifies as acceptable evidence.
Transitioning Between H-1B Employers
Switching between H-1B employers requires consideration of the visa cap.
Changing employers necessitates a new I-129 filing, and for non-cap-exempt employers, this filing might be part of the visa lottery.
Exceptions and Concurrent Employment
Certain exceptions within regulations might enable individuals to transition to cap-subject employers without undergoing the cap lottery.
For those shifting from cap-exempt to cap-subject employers, concurrently working at both workplaces can temporarily bypass the lottery. However, discontinuing concurrent employment and continuing solely with the cap-subject employer might risk H-1B visa revocation by USCIS.
Strategies for Specific Professionals
This approach can particularly benefit professionals like international medical graduates (IMGs) transitioning from residency to private employment when H-1B visas for the year are unavailable.
Extending the cap-exempt H-1B from the residency or fellowship program enables temporary avoidance of the cap lottery by working at both places.
Leveraging Previous Cap-Subject Employment
For individuals previously holding a cap-subject position and moving from cap-exempt to cap-subject employment, bypassing the lottery might be possible if the entire six-year quota from the prior cap-subject position hasn’t been utilized.
Is transferring an H-1B visa as challenging as the initial process?
Fortunately, the H-1B transfer, facilitated within the US, tends to be less arduous for existing visa holders.
It’s essential to note that the attorney managing H-1B visa paperwork primarily represents the employing company. Seeking guidance from an independent immigration attorney is prudent when contemplating an H-1B job change.
One can initiate an H-1B job change anytime during the year, starting work upon receiving application confirmation.
Now that you’ve reached the end of this comprehensive guide, delving into the intricate process, qualifications, and essential documents involved in transferring an H-1B visa. Undoubtedly, this information might seem extensive and intricate, potentially overwhelming. However, understanding these intricacies is crucial.
Navigating the complexities of an H-1B visa transfer requires precision and adherence to legal protocols. While this guide provides a thorough overview, it’s natural to feel uncertain or daunted by the process. That’s why we emphasize the significance of seeking support from a seasoned immigration attorney.
Contact us now, and let us guide you through the intricate H-1B transfer process, ensuring a smoother and more confident transition to your new employment opportunity!
Frequently Asked Questions
Does the regular H-1B cap affect my H-1B transfer process?
The regular H-1B cap operates independently.
If you’ve already been counted against the cap, your H-1B transfer petition won’t be part of the lottery, thus not affecting your approval prospects.
Should I inform my current employer before applying for an H-1B transfer?
There’s no obligation to notify your current employer about an H-1B transfer. The decision to share this information rests with you.
Is there a limit on how many times I can apply for an H-1B transfer?
No, there are no limits on the number of H-1B transfer applications you can submit. This flexibility distinguishes H-1B visas from other work visas like the L-1.
Can I apply for an H-1B transfer with multiple employers simultaneously?
Yes, there are no restrictions on applying to work for multiple employers concurrently. The H-1B visa allows part-time work and multiple employments.
Can I start working with a new employer if I only have an H-1B transfer receipt and no approval yet?
Under certain conditions, you can start work with the new employer if you meet specific criteria, hold valid H-1B status, and haven’t engaged in unauthorized employment. However, be cautious as denial means immediate cessation of work and potential departure from the U.S.
Do I need a new H-1B visa stamp if I’ve received a new approval but have an existing stamp?
Holding H-1B status and possessing an H-1B visa stamp are distinct. Approval for a new employer allows work only for that entity. An existing valid stamp, if coupled with the new petition, permits entry back into the U.S.
Is there an expedited H-1B transfer process?
Contrary to popular belief, there isn’t an accelerated or straightforward H-1B transfer process. Thorough and compliant filings, meeting eligibility criteria, are imperative. Consulting an experienced H-1B transfer lawyer is advisable to avoid denial risks.
What happens if I get an H-1B transfer approval but decide to stay with my current employer?
Even with an approved H-1B transfer, you’re free to continue with your present employer.
How many pay stubs should I submit from a previous employer?
Submitting the last two or three pay stubs is generally sufficient, yet it’s best to confirm with your immigration attorney.
Can an unutilized previously approved H-1B be transferred from outside the U.S.?
An H-1B transfer, although not cap-subject, is considered a new application. You can transfer it based on previous approval, even without prior entry into the country, by proving previous approval documentation.
What if my approval notice for the transfer doesn’t include a new I-94?
If your existing I-94 remains valid, the government might not issue a new one.
Are H-1B transfers subject to the cap?
No, H-1B transfers aren’t subject to the cap as USCIS has already counted the applicant against it. Hence, filing an H-1B transfer petition can be done at any time without concerns about non-selection.