This article outlines the H1B transfer process, or in other words, how H1B visa holders can change employers while maintaining H1B status in the United States.
As a result of the American Competitiveness in the 21st Century Act (AC21), H1B visa holders were given increased portability of their visa status, allowing for H1 transfer. AC21 allows H1B workers to file a petition to change employers, given that the petition is filed before their current H1B work authorization period expires. Once an H1B employee has a job offer and a new Form I-129 petition is filed, his or her H1B visa status may be transferred through the new company and he or she may begin working for the new employer upon approval by USCIS.
H1B visa transfers are not affected by the H1B cap. Employees who apply for H1B change employer do not have to be reselected in the H1B visa lottery.
How to Apply for H1B Transfer
Before an H1B visa holder may begin working for a new employer, USCIS must approve the Form I-129 filed by the new employer. The new employer must complete and submit the following to USCIS:
- Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker
- Labor Condition Application
- Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification
The H1B beneficiary must submit the following documents for H1B change of employer.
- Copy of Form I-797, Notice of Action, showing applicantâ€™s H1B approval
- Copy of Form I-94, Arrival/Departure Record
- Copy of passport
- Copy of current H1B visa
- Copy of social security card
- Copy of degrees and diplomas
- Copy of employment offer letter
- 2 to 3 most recent pay stubs
H1B Transfer Processing Time
The processing time for H1B change employers typically takes between 3 and 8 weeks. If needed, the employer may request premium processing to expedite the H1B visa transfer processing time.
H1B Transfer FAQs
Do I need a new H1B visa to change employers?
No, your existing H1B visa may be transferred through your new employer in an H1B visa transfer.
When can I begin working for my new employer after receiving an approved H1B transfer petition?
You may begin working for your new employer as soon as USCIS approves the new Form I-129 filed by your new employer. In an H1B visa transfer, there is no time limit in which you must begin work for your new employer.
Will I receive a new Form I-94 once my H1B transfer petition is approved?
No, you only receive a new Form I-94 if your existing I-94 has expired.
Do I need to notify my current employer about my H1B visa transfer?
No, as long as you have all of the documents required to apply for H1B transfer, you do not need to inform your current H1B employer about your intentions to change employers.
What additional documentation is required to apply for H1B transfer?
You must submit:
- Copies of education documents, including degrees (with English translations if applicable)
- Copy of degree evaluation (if applicable)
- Copies of all existing immigration paperwork, including H1B petitions (forms, support letter, etc.)
- PERM application
- I-485 petition and I-140 petition (if applicable)
- Copies of most recent pay stubs
- Copies of immigration documents for family members (spouses and children, if applicable)
The key to a successful H1 Visa transfer is that you follow all the instructions, provide all the documents, and do not delay the process at your end. It is better to compile a full immigration file to make sure that there are no surprises and delays. Processing takes time and is rather unpredictable. Please make sure you do not resign from your current position yet. Following the instructions above and talking to your lawyer will certainly help you through a smooth H1 Transfer.