How to Transfer H-1B Visa to Another Sponsor Employer
H-1B visa holders are typically well-educated and highly-qualified, and this gives many visa holders numerous employment options. However, since an H-1B is sponsored by an employer, visa holders often think they cannot switch employers, or that it is a very complex process.
This is what an H-1B visa transfer is for: it allows visa holders to move to a new employer while maintaining H-1B status. This article describes how H-1B visa transfers work, and provides tips on how to expedite your transfer.
What is an H-1B Visa Transfer?
An H-1B visa transfer is simply the process of H-1B visa holders reapplying for a visa with a new employer as a sponsor. No documents are transferred between employers, and the process of reapplying is identical to the initial H-1B application. The only difference between an H-1B visa transfer and an original H-1B application is that the visa cap does not apply to the transfer. So, if you have already applied to the H-1B visa lottery and have been granted a visa, you will not have to go through the lottery again.
5 Steps to Transfer H-1B Sponsorship
There are a series of actions H-1B visa holders must take to transfer their H-1B visa to a new employer.
Get an Employment Offer
The first step to transfer your H-1B visa is getting a firm job offer from a new employer. Without a job offer from a new employer, you cannot transfer your H-1B visa.
Complete a Labor Condition Application (Completed by Employer)
A Labor Condition Application (LCA) is required for businesses to hire foreign workers. Employers must complete this step by completing a Form ETA9035, obtained from the U.S. Department of Labor. This form provides wage and workplace protections for workers.
File I-29 Form (Completed by Employer)
The I-29 Form is submitted to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service, granting permission to the employer to hire a foreign worker. After processing, the USCIS sends receipt number to the employer and applicant which allows the applicant to begin employment. Once approved, an I-797 Form is sent to the employer and employee that provides legal certification for employment.
Pay Associated Fees (Paid for by Employer)
The following fees apply when transferring an H-1B to a new employer:
- The American Competitiveness and Workforce Improvement Act of 1998 Fee: $750 for employers with less than 25 employees and $1,500 for employers with more than 25 employees
- Fraud Prevention & Detection Fee: $500 per applicant
- Public Law Fee: $4000 for employers with more than 50 employees if 50% of employees are on H-1B or L visa holders
- I-129 filing fees: $460 per applicant
Submit the Necessary Documents
While the employer must cover most of the fees and much of the H-1B application, the applicant must provide numerous documents to the USCIS. For a complete list of these documents, see below.
What Documents are Needed to Transfer an H-1B?
The following documents must be submitted to complete an H-1B visa application:
- Copies of current H-1B visa, Form I-797, Form I-94, social security card, employment offer letter, & passport
- Documents proving professional qualifications (degrees, certificates, etc.)
- Most recent pay stubs and tax returns
- An up-to-date resume
How Long Does it Take to Transfer an H-1B Visa to a New Employer?
There are three different parts of the H-1B visa transfer process.
The first, applying for the LCA, typically takes 7 days. The second part of the process, which is collecting and submitting the relevant documents to the USCIS and paying the relevant fees, typically takes 10 days.
Finally, H-1B visa processing is the last and lengthiest part of the process. This part typically takes 1 to 4 months depending on the application, though if applicants pay a steep $1,225 premium processing fee this can be expedited and processing time reduced to 15-30 days.
Reasons Why Your H-1B Visa Transfer Might be Denied
If you and your employer are thorough in your application, and if you have all the relevant qualifications, then your H-1B visa transfer should be smooth. However, potential issues may arise, including the following:
Fees Not Paid
There are numerous fees applicants must pay, and these fees are subject to frequent change. Often, applicants miss payments or pay the wrong amount, which results in their application being denied.
Insufficient Proof of Specialty Occupation
The H-1B visa is aimed at qualified individuals in specialty occupations. Even if you have a job offer if you cannot prove that you have the requisite qualifications your application may be rejected. These types of rejection can occur if you don’t have an advanced enough degree or if your diploma is poorly suited to the field.
Insufficient Proof of Employer/Employee Relationship
Proving an employment relationship between you and your H-1B transfer sponsor is vital, as USCIS prioritizes fraud prevention. To ensure your application is accepted supply all relevant documentation, including your work contract with specific details of your employment.
Employer is Unable to Pay Employee
Another reason your H-1B application may be rejected is if your employer is unable to prove to USCIS that they can afford your salary. Employers must submit thorough financial and tax documents so USCIS can be assured that they are financially stable enough to hire foreign workers.
Obtaining an H-1B visa is exceedingly difficult and requires the highest qualifications; even the most qualified must be fortunate enough to win the H-1B lottery. So, if you’ve already obtained an H-1B and simply need to transfer the visa to a new employer, the trickiest part is done.
Successfully transferring your visa simply requires ensuring that you and your employer know the process and correctly follow all the steps and pay all the fees. If you’re careful and thorough, your visa transfer should be a smooth process.