H-1B Transfers: Factors Affecting Start Date (for Employers)

H-1B Transfer guideThe H-1B visa program is a crucial pathway for U.S. employers to hire foreign talent with specialized skills. While the process for hiring H-1B workers is well-defined, the timeline for an H-1B transfer can vary based on several factors.

For employers looking to initiate H-1B transfers, understanding the key factors affecting the start date is essential.

In this comprehensive guide, we will explore these factors and provide insights to help employers navigate the process smoothly.

What is an H-1B Transfer?

Before we delve into the factors affecting the start date of an H-1B transfer, let’s clarify what an H-1B transfer entails. An H-1B transfer allows a foreign national already in the U.S. on an H-1B visa to change employers while maintaining their H-1B status.

This process can be complex, involving several considerations, including the start date for the new employment.

Factor 1 for an H1B Transfer: USCIS Processing Time

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) processes H-1B transfer petitions. USCIS processing times can vary based on several factors, including the volume of petitions, government workload, and any changes in immigration policies. On average, USCIS processing times for H-1B transfers can range from several months to a year or more.

Tips for Employers:

  • Plan Ahead: Recognize that USCIS processing times can be unpredictable. Start the transfer process well in advance to account for potential delays.
  • Premium Processing: Consider using premium processing if available. This expedites the processing time to 15 calendar days, which can be crucial for urgent hires.

Factor 2 for an H1B Transfer: Prior Employer’s Cooperation

The cooperation of the employee’s prior employer is a significant factor in the H-1B transfer process. The employee’s previous employer must provide necessary documentation, including the H-1B approval notice, to facilitate the transfer. Delays can occur if the former employer is uncooperative or unresponsive.

Tips for Employers:

  • Open Communication: Maintain open and transparent communication with the employee’s former employer. Request the required documentation promptly to avoid unnecessary delays.
  • Legal Obligations: Ensure that all parties involved understand their legal obligations and responsibilities in the H-1B transfer process.

Factor 3 for an H-1B Transfer: Premium Processing

As mentioned earlier, premium processing is an option that can significantly expedite the H-1B transfer process. For an additional fee, USCIS guarantees a 15-calendar day processing time. Employers seeking a faster start date may find this option beneficial.

Tips for Employers:

  • Assess Urgency: Evaluate the urgency of the hire. If the role is critical and time-sensitive, consider utilizing premium processing to expedite the transfer.
  • Budget Considerations: Be aware of the additional cost associated with premium processing and budget accordingly.

Factor 4 for an H-1B Transfer: Employment Start Date Negotiations

Employment start date negotiations between the employer and the employee can affect the timeline for an H-1B transfer. Employers may need to align the start date with the employee’s notice period at their previous job or consider other personal circumstances.

Tips for Employers:

  • Flexible Planning: Be flexible in your planning to accommodate the employee’s needs while also ensuring the efficient transfer process.
  • Clear Communication: Maintain clear communication with the employee regarding their availability and preferred start date.

Factor 5 for an H1B Transfer: Travel and Visa Stamp

If the employee is currently outside the U.S. or their visa stamp has expired, additional steps may be necessary. The employee will need to attend an H-1B visa interview at a U.S. consulate or embassy in their home country, which can introduce further delays.

Tips for Employers:

  • Visa Processing Time: Be aware of the visa processing time at the U.S. consulate or embassy in the employee’s home country. This can vary based on location and demand.
  • Travel Planning: Collaborate with the employee to plan their travel to the U.S. efficiently, considering visa appointment availability and potential travel restrictions.

The landscape of immigration laws and regulations can change, impacting the H-1B transfer process. Employers must stay informed about any updates that could affect the transfer timeline.

Tips for Employers:

  • Legal Counsel: Work closely with legal counsel or immigration experts who can provide guidance on compliance with current laws and regulations.
  • Regular Updates: Stay informed about changes in immigration policies and procedures through official government channels and reputable sources.


Navigating the H-1B transfer process as an employer involves a delicate balance between various factors. While some elements, such as USCIS processing times, are beyond your control, careful planning and effective communication can help mitigate delays and ensure a smooth transition for the employee.

Remember that each H-1B transfer case is unique, and unforeseen circumstances may arise. Employers should approach the process with flexibility and a proactive mindset. By understanding and managing the factors affecting the start date, you can successfully onboard valuable talent and contribute to the growth and innovation of your organization.


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