Once you have landed a job in the U.S. that will sponsor your H1B visa, you might find it challenging to let that go, no matter the circumstances. Luckily, you have a few options for getting a new sponsoring job. One of the great things about working in the US is that you are never limited to your job and there are legal allowances on your side to make sure that you find a fulfilling and rewarding job.
Like any other member of the American workforce, you are not stuck in a job hoping that this works out the best for you. If you have been terminated or laid off or have a better offer in hand, here are a few tips to help you navigate changing jobs while on an H1B visa.
What is an H1B visa transfer?
As you start looking for another job, you might also come across H1B visa transfers. Despite common misconceptions, you cannot transfer your H1B visa. When you get a new job on an employment-based visa, the only thing that transfers is you—from one job to another. But the process of applying for a new H1B visa after changing jobs is commonly referred to as an “H1B visa transfer”.
You must file for a new H1B visa petition when you accept a new job offer. Even though it sounds tedious, you have a few benefits working in your favor since you have already received an H1B visa with your first employment in the US. Therefore, you are not:
- Subject to visa caps
- Can petition any time of the year
- You can file more than one petition
- Once you have received a receipt from USCIS, you can begin work at your new workplace
- The USCIS note confirms that they have received your petition for a new visa, regardless of whether or not your petition is approved, also known as “porting”
- You don’t need permission from your current employer to file for a new H1B visa petition
- You don’t need your current employer’s permission to file a new H1B visa petition. But you may be bound by non-compete agreements and contracts
What if your H1B visa petition is denied?
If your H1B visa petition is denied, you can continue working for your current employer, who sponsored your first visa if they are willing to keep you on. A denied petition does not change your current H1B visa status. You also can appeal the decision. Another option would be leaving the US and filing a new H1B petition.
H1B visa transfer timeline
The exact H1B visa transfer processing time varies from case to case. It depends on various factors, including the location of employment and which center is responsible for processing your H1B visa application. The timeline ranges between 4 to 8 weeks once your application is submitted, but you can streamline your application with an additional fee.
What all documents do you need to transfer your H1B visa?
Having a checklist will help you not forget any when you are applying for a new H1B visa petition. The documents you require for the process of an H-1B visa job change are:
- Your U.S. visa, I-797, and I-94
- Your resume
- Your pay stubs, a letter from your employer, or a leave of absence letter
- Your university degree and transcripts, along with your academic evaluations
Along with these documents, your new employer will need to submit the following:
- A letter of position stating your job title and salary, signed by both you and your employer
- A proper job description
- Marketing material from the business
- The company’s financial statements, annual reports, or business plans
What is the transfer cost of an H1B visa?
When you initially file for an H1B visa, your employer will pay all the mandatory fees for your H1B transfer. The only change is that you will not need to pay the $10 registration fee again. So your H-1B transfer cost will range between $1,710- $6,460.
What happens if you’re laid off while on your H1B visa?
In case you are terminated while on an H1B visa, you have up to 60 days to find new employment or apply for a status change. If the expiration date on your I-94 is sooner than 60 days, you have to leave by the date of your I-94, or you need to get an extension. If you have been laid off, you can still try and bridge or port your H1B visa, as you would if you were still working.