Changing Jobs with the “H1B Visa Transfer”

“H1B visa transfer” is a bit of a misnomer—the work visa can’t actually be transferred from one employer to another. However, an employee who is in the United States on an H1B visa can change jobs during his or her stay. An H1B visa holder may only have one job at a time, but there is no limit to the number of sequential jobs he or she may hold.

How Does the “H1B Visa Transfer” Work?

The H1B job change process begins with the new employer completing an H1B visa application. From the employer’s end, there is no shortcut: the new company must complete the same process it would to hire a non-citizen who was not yet in the United States. This includes:

  • Issuing a letter of employment detailing the title, duties, dates of employment and other specifics of the position
  • Filing a successful Labor Certificate Application (LCA)
  • Following the appropriate process for notice to employees or their collective bargaining representative
  • Filing a fresh visa petition

Advantages for H1B Job Changers

Although the new employer must commence the visa application process from the beginning, much of the documentation required for visa approval will already have been collected in connection with the original H1B petition. The employee will, however, be required to submit updated information such as:

  • An updated resume
  • Current paycheck stubs
  • Social Security card
  • Past approval notices
  • Passport
  • I-94 records
  • A copy of the most recent visa

H1B holders who wish to change jobs have two significant time-related advantages over applicants who have not yet entered the country. These advantages also benefit the employer, which may make a current H1B visa holder a more attractive candidate than one without an existing visa.

  • Since the H1B visa holder is already living and working in the U.S., he or she does not have to wait for a visa number to become available. With H1B visa caps typically reached just a few days after USCIS starts accepting applications in any given year, a prospective employer may face a long delay when hiring from outside the country.
  • Because the H1B visa holder is already in the country and has already been vetted in connection with his or her previous petition, the employee need not wait for visa approval and issuance of a new number to begin work. Instead, he or she is free to start work as soon as USCIS has issued a receipt for the petition.

It is important to note that although the employee may begin working for the new employer as soon as a receipt is issued for the petition, the original visa is not automatically extended. While there is a grace period, the employee’s authorization to work will terminate 240 days after the original visa expires—earlier if a denial is issued at any stage of the process. It may be necessary to file a request for extension along with the new petition.

The Advantage of Working with an Experienced Business Immigration Lawyer

When an H1B visa holder receives a new job offer, it is important for both the employee and the employer to recognize that there is no such legal process as the “H1B visa transfer.” While there are some advantages—primarily in terms of timing—for a current H1B visa holder, the petition process is just as complex and riddled with opportunities for error as an initial application.

If your company is extending an offer to a current H1B visa holder, contact us today to learn more about how we can help smooth the process and improve your chances of a successful outcome.

Call 440-946-7656 in Lake County or 216-861-4211 in Cuyahoga County.

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