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Everything You Need to Know About H1B Visa Amendments
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An H1B visa is often regarded as an entry ticket to the U.S. However, maintaining an H1B visa status could prove to be troublesome. It might be necessary to get an H1B visa amendment from time to time whenever a material change occurs in the terms and conditions of an H1B visa holder.
So what exactly is an H1B visa amendment and when would you need to amend your H1B visa? We will answer these questions in this article.
What Is an H1B Visa Amendment?
An H1B visa amendment, as the name suggests, is all about amending your H1B visa. There are various situations where you might need to ask your sponsoring employer to file a new petition on your behalf.
If your job role is changing, or if you are changing your employer altogether, you might need to apply for a new petition. This also means the status of your H1B visa can change, as the USCIS will decide if an H1B visa should be provided to you again or not.
However, there are various cases where your employer just needs to apply for an amendment. When you change your job roles, when you change your job title, or when there is a significant increase in your salary—an H1B visa amendment is needed.
Advantages of an H1B Amendment
Failure to apply for an H1B visa amendment if one is necessary may compel the USCIS to take strict action against both the employer and the candidate. The repercussions could be so severe that the candidate might lose their H1 visa status and will need to be deported.
Therefore, whenever any material change happens with the previous H1B petition, a new petition should be filed.
When to File an H1B Visa Amendment
An H1B visa amendment is needed whenever any material changes happen when compared to the terms and conditions of the previous H1B visa petition. With the material change, we mean any significant change to the terms and conditions of the H1B worker’s employment status.
Some changes where an amendment is needed include:
- Changes in the terms and conditions of the employment of the H1B visa holder.
- Change in the worksite location of the H1B visa holder. This will require the employer to get a new Labor Condition Application (LCA).
- Change in the worksite location of the H1B visa holder that is outside the “area of intended employment.”
How to File an H1B Visa Amendment
Filing an H1B visa amendment is easy. All you need to do is follow the steps below:
- If your H1B visa petition has undergone a material change, you are required to file an amendment with the USCIS. To begin, you need to collect all the documents related to the H1B sponsor employer and employee.
- Collect all the information that has changed, and fill in all the important details into an LCA. This LCA might be filed and prepared with the U.S. Department of Labor. More often than not, you will get approval from the DOL within one week.
- Next, prepare other documents like forms I-129H, I-129, and I-129W, along with a Letter of Support.
- If you are going with premium processing, you are required to prepare form I-907. If needed, a G28 will be signed by an attorney.
- Place all the checks along with the other important documents in an envelope and mail it to the USCIS.
- The application will either be approved or denied by the USCIS. If it is accepted, that means the amendment in your H1B visa is approved.
Cost of an H1B Visa Amendment
In order to file an amended H1B petition, the employer is asked to file form I-129 in an attempt to notify the USCIS of a pending material change. Thus, the H1B visa holder might not be required to file the H1B amendment, an amendment from the employer will work.
Speaking of the amendment filing fee, you are required to pay $1,500 for filing form I-129. There might be other expenses you would need to incur throughout the process. If you choose to go for premium processing, you might need to spend extra.
H1B Visa Amendment Processing Time
Similar to your original H1B petition, any amendments in this application will depend on the workload of the service center that is responsible for processing it.
Thus, the closer you file your petition to the H1B visa filing season, which is somewhere around April, the longer it will take to process your amendment.
Typically, it will take around 4 to 6 months to process your H1B visa amendment, however, this time can vary depending on your actual circumstances.
If you are in a hurry, you can choose to go with a faster route via premium processing which allows you to reduce the processing time to just 15 calendar days!
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An H1B visa amendment is important, and it is necessary for you to take it seriously. You should ask your employer to file an amendment petition on your behalf in case of any material changes, or else you might have to return to your home country.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
What is an H1B Visa Amendment?
An H1B visa amendment is a process required when there is a material change in the terms and conditions of an H1B worker’s employment. This change could relate to job location, job duties, salary, or employer details.
When is an H1B Visa Amendment Required?
An amendment is required when there are significant changes to the original H1B petition, such as:
- Change in Worksite Location: If the new worksite is outside the geographical area of the original Labor Condition Application (LCA).
- Change in Job Duties: If the job duties change substantially from the original petition.
- Change in Salary: Significant changes in salary not consistent with the original H1B petition.
- Change in Employer Details: If there are changes in employer’s corporate structure affecting the H1B employment.
How Do I File an H1B Visa Amendment?
To file an H1B amendment:
- File a New LCA: If required, for the new worksite or job details.
- Submit Form I-129: Along with a new LCA, supporting documents, and the required fee to USCIS.
What is the Processing Time for an H1B Visa Amendment?
The processing time varies and can take from a few weeks to several months. Premium processing, which results in a decision within 15 calendar days, is available for an additional fee.
Can an Employee Work at the New Location Before the Amendment is Approved?
An employee can start working at the new location once the H1B amendment petition is filed with USCIS, but it is riskier before approval.
Is a New Visa Stamp Required After an H1B Amendment?
A new visa stamp is not required after an H1B amendment as long as the original H1B visa in the passport is still valid.
What Happens if the H1B Amendment is Denied?
If the H1B amendment is denied, the employee might need to return to the original worksite or terms, or may face issues with maintaining legal H1B status.
Are There Any Risks in Not Filing an H1B Amendment?
Failing to file an H1B amendment when required can lead to compliance issues, including the possibility of the H1B being revoked and legal issues for both the employer and the employee.
How Much Does It Cost to File an H1B Visa Amendment?
The cost includes the USCIS filing fee for Form I-129, which is the same as the initial H1B filing. Additional costs like premium processing fees may also apply.
Can an H1B Amendment be Filed Along with an Extension?
Yes, an H1B amendment can be filed concurrently with an H1B extension if both are required due to changes in employment and if the H1B visa is nearing expiration.