An H1B visa is a temporary, non-immigrant visa that allows the visa holder to work for a specific company within the United States.
It is the employer who files the H1B petition and they have ownership of the H1B application. The visa or petition is granted in connection with a particular job. The next/future employer must be willing to take over OR initiate H1B transfer. If they are unwilling to do it, it is a non-starter for switching jobs.
Although the process seems onerous, since the candidate has undergone the USCIS scrutiny in the past and has collected all the documents necessary for H1B processing, this process can be expedited.
The H1B job change process begins with the new employer completing an H1B visa application. From the employer’s end, there is no shortcut: the new company must complete the same process it would to hire a non-citizen who was not yet in the United States. This includes:
- Issuing a letter of employment detailing the title, duties, and specifics of the position
- Filing a successful Labor Certificate Application (LCA) with the Department of Labor (DOL)
- Filing a fresh visa petition
The following documents may be needed as part of the H1B transfer process :
- 3 months latest pay stubs, Previous W2’s
- Existing H1B approval and old approved I – 797’s
- Passport copies
- I-94 records
- Social Security Card
- Valid US Visa
- Copy of all your Diploma/Degrees
Important things to keep in mind
What is most important to remember is you DO NOT need an APPROVED H1B to work for your new employer. As long as you have a USCIS receipt number, you are good to go to start with a new company.
Also, remember that existing H1B holders have a few advantages over people who do not have H1B or people who are not present in the country. These advantages also benefit the employer, which may make a current H1B visa holder a more attractive candidate than one without an existing visa.Since the H1B visa holder is already living and working in the U.S., you do not have to wait for a visa number to become available.
With H1B visa quotas exceeding capacity in just a few days after USCIS begins accepting applications in any given year, a prospective employer may face a long delay when hiring from outside the country.
Since the H1B visa holder is already in the country and has already been vetted in connection with his or her previous petition, the employee need not wait for visa approval and issuance of a new number to begin work. Instead, he or she is free to start work as soon as USCIS has issued a receipt for the petition.
It is important to note that although the employee may begin working for the new employer as soon as a receipt is issued for the petition, the original visa is not automatically extended. While there is a grace period, the employee’s authorization to work will terminate 240 days after the original visa expires—and earlier if a denial is issued at any stage of the process. It may be necessary to file a request for extension along with the new petition.
Also note that a lot of employers are currently filing premium H1B applications, so this expedites the process as well. In case you have an approved I- 140, then your future employer would have to be ready to sponsor your Green Card.