How to Change Jobs on an H1B Visa

Posted by Frank Gogol

When you enter the U.S. on an H1B visa, you need an employer to sponsor your visa. This can make changing jobs on the H1B visa a bit complicated since it requires finding a new sponsor. However, you can switch employers on an H1B visa, you just need to complete an H1B visa transfer. This article gives you a detailed breakdown of how to switch jobs on an H1B visa.

Check out our video “Changing Jobs on an H1B Visa” or read on to learn more about switching employers while on an H1B Visa!

What is an H1B Visa?

The H1B visa is a nonimmigrant visa that lets foreign workers stay in the country for the purposes of employment. To be eligible for an H1B visa, you must receive a job offer in a position that requires specialized knowledge or skill. Typically, any field of employment that requires a Bachelor’s degree or higher is considered specialized.

However, the USCIS places a cap on the number of petitions granted each year, so to get an H1B visa you must be selected in the H1B lottery. There are only 65,000 general petitions granted visa status and an additional 20,000 for applicants with Master’s degrees.

Can an H1B Visa Holder Change Jobs?

Yes, H1B visa holders can change jobs and retain their H1B status. However, to do so you must reapply for the H1B visa.

H1B Visa “Portability”

H1B visas cannot be transferred from one employer to another. Instead, your new employer submits a new H1B petition for you.

Process for Changing Jobs on an H1B

The process of changing jobs on an H1B is essentially the same as applying for a new H1B. To change employers while on an H1B visa, your new employer must follow these steps:

  • Submit an employment letter detailing the position, duties, start date, and other relevant information on the job
  • File a Labor Condition Application (LCA) and wait until it is certified
  • Give notice to the collective bargaining representative for their employees
  • File the visa petition and submit the relevant documents
  • Pay any necessary filing fees

You can start working immediately once the USCIS receives the H1B petition, rather than waiting until it is approved.

You, the petitioner, will have to submit the following to the USCIS as well:

  • Paycheck stubs
  • A current resume
  • Copies of your most recent visa, social security card, passport, and I-94 records

H1B Visa Expiration

You can start your new job before your H1B application is approved, but your H1B is not automatically extended. Instead, your new employer must request an extension when they file your H1B petition. If an extension is not filed, then you will only be able to work for 240 days after the date that your H1B expires. If your petition is denied at any stage at the process, you lose work authorization as well.

Advantages of Changing Jobs on H1B

While you still have to follow the H1B application process when you switch jobs on an H1B, there are certain advantages which make the application process simpler. A big advantage is that, since you have already been selected in the H1B visa lottery, you will no longer be subject to the H1B visa caps.

Changing Jobs on H1B and Visa Caps

Another advantage, as described above, is that you can start working for the new employer immediately upon petitioning for a new H1B, rather than waiting until the petition is approved. This can make you more attractive to prospective employers with urgent need who cannot wait out the full H1B visa process.

H1B Transfer FAQs

We’ve outlined the general H1B visa transfer process in the sections above. Read on for some detailed questions about how H1B transfers work.

I  am considering an offer from another company. Do I need a new H1B visa? When can I start working for a new company?

To work for your new company, you and your employer must submit a new H1B visa petition. However, you do not have to get selected in the H1B lottery.

You can start working for your new company immediately upon filing the petition; you don’t have to wait for the petition to be approved.

Upon approval of H1B transfer, is there any time limit to join the new company?

No, you can start working for your new company before the petition is approved, but once approved, there is no time limit for when you must start. However, keep in mind the expiration date of your H1B visa, and request an extension if necessary.

Does the regular H1B Quota (Cap) affect the H1B transfer process?

No, the H1B petition for your new employer is not counted towards the H1B quota. This is because, if you currently have an H1B, you have already been counted towards the quota.

I just got my approval notice for my H1B transfer. It doesn’t have a new I-94. What should I do?

I-94’s are issued upon entering the U.S., and the I-94 you receive upon entry will will have an expiration date. Your I-94 from your initial entry may still be valid, so you will not be issued a new I-94.

Do you need to inform your present employer about your Visa Transfer?

No, you are not required to tell your present employer that you are transferring your visa.

Is there any limit for the number of times I transfer my H1B visa?

No, there is no limit on the number of times you can transfer your H1B visa. The only limit that you must keep in mind is the expiration of your initial H1B visa, which can be extended.

Can I apply for an H1B transfer through more than one company at the same time?

Yes, you can apply for multiple H1B transfers at one time. The process for applying for each H1B transfer will be the same, and, if both are approved, you can choose which company to work for.

Can an H1B visa holder change his mind about a visa transfer once approved?

Yes, if you apply for an H1B transfer and then decide that you would rather stay with your original H1B sponsor, you can do so.

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