Navigating a Job Change with an H1B Visa: A Comprehensive Guide
The H1B visa is a crucial pathway for foreign workers seeking to enter or remain in the USA after completing their OPT. Recognized as an employer-sponsored visa, it’s often used for occupations that demand specialized training or knowledge, typically involving at least a bachelor’s degree. Though switching jobs with an H1B visa might seem complex, understanding the process of an H1B transfer can enable a smooth transition between employers without violating visa regulations.
Understanding the H1B Visa: An Overview
The H1B visa is tailored for non-citizen professionals looking to work in the USA. With an annual cap of 65,000 for general applicants and an additional 20,000 for those holding master’s degrees, there is a lottery system in place for allocation.
Unlike some perceptions, H1B visas are not transferable between employers. Should you decide to change jobs, your new employer must file a new H1B petition on your behalf.
The Steps to Changing Jobs with an H1B Visa:
Here are the sequential steps your new employer needs to follow:
- Provide an Employment Letter: Detailing the specifics of the role, responsibilities, commencement date, and other relevant job information.
- File a Labor Condition Application (LCA): Await its certification.
- Notify the Collective Bargaining Representative: If applicable, on behalf of the employees.
- Compile and Submit Required Documents: For the visa application.
- Cover the Applicable Filing Fees.
Meanwhile, the visa holder (employee) should prepare to submit:
- Recent Pay Stubs:
- An Updated CV:
- Copies of Current Visa, Social Security Card, Passport, and I-94 Records.
You are allowed to begin your new job as soon as the USCIS receives the H1B petition, not needing to wait for formal approval. Nevertheless, it’s crucial to note that the H1B visa does not auto-renew. Your new employer must seek an extension when filing the H1B petition, allowing you to work for 240 days post-visa expiry. Work authorization is lost if the petition is denied at any point.
The Benefits of Job Change on an H1B Visa:
Some noteworthy advantages include:
- Exemption from Visa Caps: Since you’ve already been selected in the H1B lottery.
- Immediate Employment Possibility: This can be appealing to employers with urgent requirements who might be reluctant to navigate the entire H1B process for new applicants.
The I-94, issued upon U.S. entry and possessing a set expiry date, remains valid despite H1B transfer approval. Also, the number of H1B transfers is unlimited, and you can apply without informing your current employer.
Applying for Multiple Transfers and Extending Your Visa:
It’s possible to apply for various H1B transfers simultaneously, giving you the flexibility to select your preferred employer if approved. You can even choose to remain with the original sponsor. Remember to keep an eye on your visa expiry, but rest assured, extensions are possible.
Job changes on an H1B visa might seem intricate but are manageable with proper understanding and guidance. Best of luck to those seeking new horizons and opportunities!