Can I change jobs if I’m in the U.S. on an H-1B visa?

business visa H-1B immigration man stamping a paper

If you have entered the United States on an H-1B visa you may wonder whether changing your job could affect your immigration status. Individuals with H1-B visa status are allowed to transfer to a different employer, however, they must submit an H-1B visa transfer petition with USCIS. A common misconception about transferring employers is that you need to be granted permission from your former employer, however, that is inaccurate. If you are in the U.S. with H-1B status and want to change your job, contact a qualified Middlesex County, New Jersey Business Immigration Lawyer who can help you navigate the transfer process.

What is the H-1B visa?

The H-1B visa is a nonimmigrant work visa that permits U.S. employers and companies to temporarily hire nonimmigrant aliens to pursue a career in a specialty occupation that requires expert knowledge in a specific field such as math, science, education, health, and others. Essentially, the H-1B visa allows nonimmigrant aliens to enter the U.S. to work in a specialized field. Typically, nonimmigrant aliens are allowed to work in the U.S. in a specialized field under H-1B status for three years. However, this type of work visa can be extended for up to six years. In addition, spouses and children under the age of 21 who are not married can apply for the H-4 visa, allowing them to reside in the U.S. with the H-1B visa holder.

How does the transfer process work?

As mentioned above, nonimmigrant H-1B visa holders are required to submit a transfer petition if they wish to change their job. To successfully transfer a position, employers and H-1B holders must follow the following steps:

  • Your new employer must petition for the transfer by filing a Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker I-129. Your new employer must do so before your current employment ends.
  • Pay all the required transfer fees.
  • H-1B holders are required to submit specific documents to USCIS.
    • U.S. visa
    • I-797
    • I-94
    • Resume
    • University degree and transcripts
    • Academic evaluation
    • Paystubs
    • Letter from your employer or leave of absence letter
  • New employers are also required to submit specific documents to USCIS.
    • Letter explaining the position, including the job title and salary. (must be signed by you and your new employer)
    • Description of the responsibilities and duties of the position
    • Financial statements, business plans, or annual reports
    • Any marketing from the company
  • If you stopped working for your original employer before the transfer, your new employer must file for premium processing.
  • You should wait until USCIS approves the transfer before starting to work for your new employer. Your new employer must receive the USCIS receipt approving the visa transfer.

If you are looking to change your profession as an H-1B visa holder, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with one of our dedicated and skilled team members. Our firm is committed to helping our clients successfully transfer to a different employer without jeopardizing their nonimmigrant status in the U.S.

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