Immigrants and other foreigners who come to the United States to work typically have to apply for a visa in order to secure a job. However, not all visas have the same requirements or application process. One such process that specifically concerns non-U.S. citizens seeking to change employment is the H-1B visa transfer process.
What is an H-1B Visa?
An H-1B visa grants foreign individuals the ability to work in the United States if they have a job opportunity. It also permits employers to hire qualified non-citizen employees in specialty occupations on a temporary basis. The term “specialty occupations” refers to high-skilled professional positions that require, at a minimum, a bachelor’s degree in a specific field of study and typically entail a series of complex tasks and responsibilities. Examples of specialty occupations include accountants, architects, engineers, doctors, and investment bankers. The U.S. employer and prospective foreign employee must comply with the United States Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS) conditions and regulations and the Department of Labor standards in order to receive eligibility for an H-1B visa. There are many advantages to this type of visa, from its broad eligibility requirements (citizens from any country can apply) to a lengthy and easily extendable duration of stay. H-1B visa holders can also transfer their from one employer to another and work part-time for several employers at once and still maintain their status.
Reasons for/Benefits of Transferring Employers on an H-1B Visa
One of the main reasons foreigners with H-1B visa status may seek to transfer employers is that these individuals are not required to obtain permission from their former employer for the visa transfer. Another benefit is the fact that an H-1B visa holder’s new employer handles the initial step of the transfer process by submitting a petition to the USCIS.
Additionally, thanks to the American Competitiveness in the 21st Century Act (AC21) of 2000, H-1B holders can begin working for their new employer as soon as the latter has received a Notice of Action receipt from the USCIS that the visa transfer petition was approved. There are several requirements an H-1B holder must meet in order to qualify for the transfer process.
H-1B Visa Transfer Qualifications
- The foreign individual must be under approved H-1B status and begin employment on the date listed on the transfer petition submitted to USCIS.
- Should the prospective employee have any gaps in employment — for example, if his/her employment with the H-1B employer ended before the transfer — he/she is recommended to expedite the transfer through premium processing. This process to speed up the transfer does not affect the individual’s start date with his/her new employer. Premium processing also does not guarantee an approved transfer petition. Foreigners can submit forms like I-907 to request premium processing and expect a USCIS decision within approximately 15 calendar days.
- The person in question is required to give pay stubs as proof of employment. Other types of documentation like a letter from an H-1B employer or a leave of absence letter are also accepted as evidence of employment.
Other documents are also required in order to begin the bureaucratic H-1B visa employment transfer process.
H-1B Visa Transfer Documents
Both the prospective employee with an H-1B visa and the employer are obligated to submit several distinct transfer documents.
H-1B visa holder:
- A U.S. visa, form I-797, and form I-94. I-797 is a form USCIS uses to communicate with visa applicants and petitioners to describe an immigration benefit. I-94 is an Arrival and Departure Record form issued by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to track foreigners entering the United States.
- Proof of employment: pay stubs, leave of absence letter or letter from employer
- University Degree (educational or technical degrees) & Transcript (duplicate copy of transcript)
- Academic evaluation, including letter from registrar to certify completion of educational credits
- Letter of recommendation
- Letter of position that includes job title and description and salary. Both employer and H-1B visa holder must sign this letter.
- A detailed description of job duties and responsibilities.
- Marketing material from company
- Financial statements, business plans or annual reports
Seeking More Information About The H-1B Visa Transfer Process
Foreign individuals who are interested in learning more about the H-1B visa transfer petition and application process can contact attorneys at Virginia-based full-service law firm Pride Immigration, a member of KPPB Law. Immigration lawyer Beeraj Patel has managed more than 1,000 H-1B visa cases and can help guide you through the process. Pride Immigration offers consultations both by phone and in person, and you can also send their experienced lawyers a message online at https://www.prideimmigration.com/contact-us/. Their attorneys can provide you with detailed information about the timeline of an H-1B visa transfer and answers to frequently asked questions about qualifications, required documents and other aspects of the process. Pride Immigration practices in multiple Virginia cities, including Gainesville, Alexandria, Arlington, Fairfax and Reston.