An H-1B visa is a tool used by U.S. companies to offer sponsorship to foreign workers with specialized skills and education, thereby allowing foreign nationals to temporarily work in the United States.
There may come a time, however, when the H-1B foreign worker discontinues their employment with the original company to seek employment with a new, different employer.
In this circumstance, the foreign worker will benefit from seeking an H-1B transfer.
H-1B Visa Transfer
Certain provisions under the AC 21 Act allow for a foreign national employee who was previously granted an H-1B visa to “transfer” their visa status to another employer should the need arise.
This is accomplished by the new employer filing an H-1B visa transfer petition with the USCIS on behalf of the foreign employee. And although the process is referred to as a “transfer,” it’s actually no such thing; the sponsoring U.S. company and the foreign worker must still present the same proof and documentation that was required with the original H-1B visa application.
The H-1B visa is not being “transferred” or “passed” between employers.
One advantage of an H-1B visa transfer is that the foreign national worker does not have to wait for the application to be approved prior to starting work with the new employer. In fact, once the USCIS has acknowledged receipt of the transfer request, the foreign employee may begin work.
Additionally, the new application is deemed separate from, and not subject to the H-1B visa annual issuance cap.
H-1B Visa Transfer Required Documents
Below is a list of documents required for an H-1B transfer, from both the sponsoring employer and the foreign national worker:
- Signed copy (by both the employer and the employee) of an official Job Offer letter, which includes such details as the salary offered and the job title
- Documentation listing a detailed job description
- Proof that the sponsoring employer can pay the stated wage, i.e. a recent financial statement, or annual fiscal report
- Copy of the company’s Articles of Incorporation, if applicable.
Foreign National Employee
- Copies of any U.S. visas held, and any I-94 or I-797 approvals
- Post-secondary diplomas
- University or post-secondary educational transcripts
- Updated resume
- Letters of recommendation from past employers
- Current visa stamp
- Copies of passports and social security cards
- Copies of the three most recent pay stubs, or other proof of employment
If the H-1B transfer employee has a dependent such a spouse or minor child, they will need to provide the dependent’s proper H-4 documentation as well. This could include the dependent’s passport, I-94 card, and marriage/birth certificates.
Once received by the USCIS, an H-1B transfer application approval could take anywhere from 4-8 weeks or in some cases longer.
As mentioned earlier, all the foreign national needs is receipt of the transfer application to begin work. Also, although a foreign worker can apply for and have an unlimited number of H-1B visas, they can only hold employment with one employer at a time.
It is not required for the original H-1B visa employer to be aware that the foreign worker has applied for a transfer.
Lightman Law Firm was recently honored as New York’s 2014 Immigration Law Firm of the Year by Acquisition International. Additionally, founding attorney, Douglas Lightman, was named a “Rising Star” by SuperLawyers.com. Lightman Law Firm also carries a 4.9 rating on Google Reviews.