H1 Visa Transfer

H1 Visa Transfer:  Yes, You Can Change Employers

The H-1B Program

U.S. businesses use the H-1B program to employ foreign workers in specialty occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise in specialized fields, such as scientists, engineers, or computer programmers.

FY 2013 H-1B Cap Count 

Cap Type Cap Amount Cap Eligible Petitions  Date of Last Count
H-1B Regular Cap65,00025,00004/20/2012
H-1B Master’s Degree Exemption20,00010,90004/20/2012

Source:  USCIS

Cap Eligible Petitions

This is the number of petitions that USCIS has accepted for this particular type of cap.  It includes cases that have been approved or are still pending.  It does not include petitions that have been denied.

Cap Amounts

The current annual cap on the H-1B category is 65,000. Not all H-1B non-immigrants are subject to this annual cap. Please note that up to 6,800 visas are set aside from the cap of 65,000 during each fiscal year for the H-1B1 program under the terms of the legislation implementing the U.S.-Chile and U.S.-Singapore Free Trade Agreements. Unused numbers in this pool are made available for H-1B use for the next fiscal year.

Can Someone on an H1 Visa Transfer Jobs?

Once you are in the United States, you can change jobs but you have to notify the USCIS about your employment status.  But you don’t have to tell your current employer about the H1 visa transfer, nor will they find out form any government agency, such as the USCIS or the Department of Labor (DOL).  In fact, you can apply to multiple employers at the same time and you can apply as many times as you wish, as long it is before the expiration date of the Labor Condition Application (LCA).

Once you get approved for a H1 visa transfer, you can start working for your new employer at any time as long it is before the expiration date of the LCA.

What documents do I need for an H1 visa transfer?

It would be helpful to have the I-797 approval receipt and the last few paystubs from your previous employer when you file for an H1 visa transfer petition.  Let’s say you don’t have any paystubs from your current employer because you haven’t worked there long enough but you find another and better employment opportunity, then all you need is the previous H-1B approval confirmation.

Is there a difference between an H1 visa stamp and H1 status?

Yes there is.  An H1 visa stamp, which is found in your passport, allows you to enter the United States.  An H1B visa status allows you to work in the United States.  If you travel outside the United States, as long as your H1 visa stamp is still valid and not expired, you can still re-enter the U.S. under your old H1 visa stamp even if you successfully obtained an H1 visa transfer and working for a new employer.

Now, if you are still in your home country and obtained an H1 visa approval to work for Company A in the U.S. but you haven’t started to work for Company A, you CANNOT enter the U.S. to look for a new employer and use the H1 visa transfer process.

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