Changing employers while on H1B visa? (H1B transfer)
If you are here in the United States on an H1B visa US government allows you to change employers at any time while your H1B visa is valid. All you need is to find a new employer, the new employer must be willing to go through the same process that your first employer went to get you a new H1B visa. When changing employers you do not have to worry yourself with the filing deadline (April 1) and the gap between filing and when you can start working (October 1). You can petition US government to change employer any time while your H1B visa is valid. You also will not have to worry yourself with the H1B cap (65,000-85,000).
Additionally, if your H1B visa is about to expire (6 months left on your visa), on the same petition to change employers, you can request an extension of your visa for another 3 years (with a maximum total of 6 years on H1B regardless of whether or not you changed employers).
Remember that when you change employers the process is fairly similar to the process of obtaining a new H1B. This means, that new employer will have to show that your occupation is a specialty occupation, that the employer has a need for a skilled worker such as yourself, that employer will and can pay you a competitive salary, among other requirements.
Some of my clients ask me if they can transfer to a brand new startup. My answer is yes; however, get yourself a good immigration lawyer. US government looks very closely at brand new companies to insure that the company actually has a need for a skilled worker such as yourself at the early stages of the business cycle, and the government wants to insure that the business plan and financing of the startup are solid enough to support a specialty occupation employee. Your new startup employer will need to show more evidence to convince the government that an H1B should be issued, than if you were transferring to a well-established, well-known company with significant annual revenue.
H-1B Transfer Process:
New Employer files I-129 petition with the USCIS requesting for the H-1B transfer process.
If you are on H-1B and living in the U.S.A., recent pay stubs, bank statements and W2s are the documents necessary to be submitted in order to prove your current legal status of your H-1B transfer. In case of filing a transfer before your H-1B period starts (October 1st), you do not need to have any pay stubs submitted to the USCIS.
USCIS processes your case and a decision is made.
USCIS approves the H-1B transfer, your present employer needs to be notified. Note that there is no necessity of getting a no objection certificate from the previous employer for the H-1B transfer.
You can join and start working for the new employer any time after USCIS approves the H-1B transfer and you could work until the H-1B visa expiration date (as per your LCA).
H-1B Transfer Processing Time:
You could choose to apply for an H-1B visa transfer through regular processing or premium processing. Regular processing generally takes from one to six months to have a decision made. Premium processing would take around 15 to 30 days, and it will cost you additional $1,225.
H-1B Transfer Fees:
The fee is the same as your initial H-1B Filing and has to be paid by your employer who is doing the transfer.
While filing for an H-1B transfer with a new employer, the current employer doesn’t need to be notified. Permission from the current employer is not necessary to file an H-1B transfer.
There is no limit on the number of times an H-1B transfer can be applied.
H-1B transfer can be applied for multiple employers at the same time.
Although your H-1B transfer has been approved by USCIS, if you change your mind you could still continue working with the present employer as if the transfer was never filed.
If you are on H-1B and are in your home country and want to transfer your H-1B, there is no requirement to show any documentation related to the prior legal status in the U.S.A.
The Law Office of Natalia Malyshkina will be happy to help you with your H1B transfer process. You can give us a call at 415-240-0083 to schedule a consultation and make a strategy for you to change employers.