A Step-by-Step Guide
The H-1B visa is a highly sought-after non-immigrant visa that allows foreign workers to temporarily work in the United States in specialty occupations. These occupations typically require a high level of specialized knowledge and an advanced degree.
H-1B visas are generally granted for an initial period of up to three years and can be extended for an additional three years, making it a valuable tool for U.S. employers to hire and retain skilled foreign workers.
Can I Transfer My H-1B Visa to a New Employer?
In short, yes, you can transfer your H-1B visa to a new employer in the United States. This process is often referred to as an H-1B visa transfer or H-1B portability. It allows you to change employers while maintaining your non-immigrant status in the U.S., provided that your new job is also in a specialty occupation. However, to be eligible for an H-1B transfer, you, your new employer, and your new job must meet certain criteria.
Criteria for an H-1B Transfer
Several key criteria must be met for a successful H-1B transfer:
- You must currently hold an H-1B visa with a valid period and have been lawfully admitted to the United States.
- You must have an offer of employment from a new U.S. employer that qualifies as an H-1B employer, i.e., one that is willing to sponsor H-1B workers and can meet the necessary regulatory requirements.
- Your new job must qualify as a specialty occupation, similar to your previous position. This typically requires professional experience and a bachelor's degree or higher in a related field.
- You need to be in valid status at the time of filing the H-1B transfer petition. If your current H-1B employment has ended, you may have a grace period of up to 60 days to find new employment.
Process for Completing an H-1B Transfer
It is in your best interest to work with an experienced immigration attorney to complete an H-1B transfer. The process is complex, and mistakes can easily result in a denial. To help you understand the process, however, we’ve included a brief guide on how to complete an H-1B transfer:
- Secure a Job Offer — Find a new job with an eligible U.S. employer willing to sponsor your H-1B transfer.
- Submit the H-1B Transfer Petition — The new employer will file an H-1B transfer petition on your behalf. This includes filing a new Labor Condition Application (LCA) and an H-1B petition (Form I-129) with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
- Wait for USCIS Approval — The USCIS will review your petition, and upon approval, you will receive an I-797 Notice of Approval.
- Start Working for Your New Employer — Once the H-1B transfer is approved, you can begin working for your new employer.
- Maintain Your Status — Continue to follow U.S. immigration regulations and maintain your H-1B status. This includes ensuring that your new job remains in a specialty occupation.
Cost and Processing Time
The cost of an H-1B transfer includes USCIS filing fees, attorney fees, and any associated costs for document processing. The processing time can vary but typically takes several months. To expedite the process, you can opt for premium processing for an additional fee, which ensures a faster decision within 15 calendar days.
- I-129 filling: $460
- Fraud Prevention and Detection: $500
- ACWIA Training: $750 for employers with fewer than 25 employees; $1,500 for employers with 25 or more employees
- Public Law: $4,000 (only for employers with more than 50 employees, half of which have H-1B or L-1 status)
- Premium Processing: $2,500 (optional)
In addition to the above fees, you will likely incur attorney fees. Although you may be tempted to proceed without legal counsel, this is not advised. Even minor errors or oversights during the application process can lead to delays, extra costs, and denials. Hiring the right immigration attorney can save you money and stress, and can greatly improve your chances of success.
Contact Yekrangi & Associates for H-1B Transfers and All Immigration Matters
Navigating the H-1B transfer process can be complex, and legal representation is critical to ensure a seamless transition to your new employer. At Yekrangi & Associates, our highly-skilled and experienced immigration team can help you navigate every stage of the H-1B transfer process with ease. Contact us today for a consultation and to learn more.