H1-B visas are a type of nonimmigrant visa issued by the United States. These visas are issued to people with a specialty occupation, allowing US companies to hire foreign workers to fill that position. It is the most common type of visa that allows foreign employers to hire foreign workers temporarily.
In contrast to some of the other visa types, employers are the ones who start the process of getting H1-B visas. As a beneficiary, you must first find an employment opportunity and then find an American company that will accept to sponsor you.
Despite the lengthy H1-B application process, which includes finding an employer, winning the lottery, and getting the visa approved, the H1-B is highly sought-after. This is understandable because there are many benefits to holders of the H1-B visa.
That is why, if you are looking for a new job, working towards your green card, or want to continue living and working in the US. It is only natural that you will want to explore the possibility of transferring or extending your H1-B status. Under normal conditions, a foreigner is first allowed to stay in the country for 3 years on an H1-B status.
As you approach the end of the 3 years, you can apply for another 3-year visa extension. Also, sometimes people want to move to a different employer for various reasons. This is the point where you require the H1-B visa transfer.
In these situations, the H1-B visa transfer and extension process is one of the most important steps for foreign workers and US employers. When faced with any of these situations, talking with an immigration attorney in the Bronx will surely make the process easy.
This post gives a general guide on what you should know about the H1-B visa transfer and extension process.
The meaning of H1-B transfer
Generally, H1-B visas are issued to foreign workers interested in working in specialty jobs in the United States. These foreign workers must find a job in the US and a US employer willing to sponsor them. After getting the H1-B visa, can the foreign worker choose to move between different US companies?
According to USCIS regulations, you can change your employer while keeping your H1-B visa status. This is done through the H1-B transfer process. The H1-B transfer is a process that H1-B visa holders can use while in the US to change their employer.
The process lets you file a change of employer petition when you wish to transfer from one H1-B visa employer to another. Like the original H1-B visa application process, your new employer must submit your H1-B visa transfer petition to USCIS.
To be able to transfer H1-B visa, visa holders must first accept a new job offer with the condition that you still hold a valid visa. After accepting the new offer, they can initiate the H1-B transfer status process. This process can take several months. But it can take longer than necessary without the help of an immigration attorney in Bronx.
The H1-B transfer status depends on whether you are resident in the US or abroad and have previously worked in the US. The USCIS has some requirements for H1-B holders to be eligible for H1-B transfer. You must be free from the H1-B visa cap and have a valid H1-B visa.
Sometimes, it may be difficult to find out if you qualify for an H1-B transfer. If this is the case, contact an immigration attorney in Bronx so they can explain the qualifications in detail and guide you through the process.
The H1-B transfer process
The H1-B transfer process is similar to the original H1-B visa application process. One of the main differences is that there is no visa cap for H1-B transfer. A maximum number of 65,000 fresh H1-B visas can be issued annually. However, H1-B transfers do not have a visa cap.
Therefore, if you have an existing H1-B visa, then you will not have to stress about going through the H1-B lottery. You will not be included in the visa cap to receive the transfer. You should know the steps in the H1-B transfer process. They are:
1. Get a new US job.
If you are working for employer A, then you will need to receive an offer of employment from employer B in the US to apply for an H1-B transfer. If you haven’t received the job offer from employer B, then you can’t transfer to any other employer.
2. LCA by the new US employer.
It is illegal for US employers to employ foreign workers without obtaining an LCA certificate. The US Department of Labor issues an LCA certificate. An employer can apply for an LCA certificate by filing a form ETA-9035E.
An LCA certification ensures that foreign workers are treated fairly by the US employer and that the employer pays them a full wage. An LCA also guarantees that foreign workers will have a good work environment and that the US government will be notified that the employer is employing legally admitted foreign workers.
Once the employer has completed this certification process, they can move on to the next steps. If you require help getting the LCA certification, consult an immigration attorney in Bronx.
3. New US employer files form I-129.
The H1-B petition uses the I-129 form to authorize the employer to employ foreign workers. The completed I-129 form is sent to the US Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS). USCIS will process the form and approve or reject the petition of the new US employer.
While processing the H1-B petition, USCIS will send the petitioner and beneficiary a receipt number. Once you receive the receipt number, you can start working for your new employer.
Once your petition is approved, both the new employer and foreign worker will receive an I-797 form from USCIS. The I-797 form shows that you are legally authorized to work in the United States for that particular employer.
4. Payment of fees.
During the transfer application process, the new US employer will pay the same fees as when you first apply for H1-B visas. Since you will be transferring an H1-B to a new foreign employee, you will be subject to the following transfer H1-B fees:
- The H1-B petition fee.
- ACWIA fee.
- Fraud fee.
- Public law fee.
- Premium processing fee (optional).
It is vital to support the H1-B transfer application with the correct evidence. An immigration attorney in Bronx can help you with this. Since you have already applied for an H1-B visa before, you won’t need to re-apply. That is why you will not be submitting any DS-160 forms.
To submit a transfer application, your H1-B visa must still be valid at the time of the H1-B transfer application. If your visa expires, you can’t submit a transfer application, but you must re-apply for your H1-B from the start.
The H1-B extension
Most H1-B visas have an initial term of 3 years. After 3 years, you can renew your visa for another 3 years. This allows you to stay for a maximum of 6 years under the H1-B status. The renewal process follows the same as your initial visa application.
You will need to file a form I-129 petition for an alien worker with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). To renew an employee’s H1-B visa, an employer must file a new form I-129 petition. This petition must accompany a new LCA and the required supporting documents.
An H1-B visa extension is not eligible for the H1-B visa lottery system. However, an extension requires the same level of evidence as the initial application. If your extension petition is denied, you have a few options:
- Identify the issue that caused your petition to be denied and file a new one.
- File a motion.
- Appeal your denial or rejection.
- Petition for another type of visa/green card.
- Fly out of the country.
Your denial/refusal notice will most likely state that you cannot appeal the decision. The USCIS will most likely state the reason for the denial, but they will also state that there is no way for you to appeal the decision to a third party.
Getting this notice can be annoying, but it is a good idea to notify an immigration attorney in Bronx. They know the quickest way to get you out of such a situation.
The 240-day rule
The 240-day rule allows employees to work in the United States while the I-129 extension application is being processed, up to 240 days, or until a final decision is made. File early to reduce premium processing. Employees are advised to stay in the United States during this waiting period. To benefit from this rule, talk with an immigration attorney in Bronx.
H1-B visas are not easy to get, especially when you factor in the possibility of winning the lottery. That is why you want to handle your H1-B status as carefully as possible. If you need to transfer or extend your H1-B visa, it is best to do so with the help of an experienced immigration attorney in Bronx who can help you avoid wasting time, energy, and money.
You can find the help you need at Gehi and Associates. Our immigration lawyers at Gehi and Associates have extensive experience in assisting clients with H1-B status transfers and extensions. We collaborate closely with clients to ensure that everything is done right the first time. We fight for our clients every step of the way.
Get in touch with us today!
1. Is it safe to travel out of the US within the 240-day rule?
No. If you leave the US during this extension provision, you may not be able to return until you get your new visa. Therefore, you shouldn’t travel during this period. If you must travel during this period, then you should consider premium processing to get your extension petition adjudicated quickly.
2. Can I enjoy the 240-day rule while processing an H1-B transfer?
No. The 240-day limit applies only to H1-B visa extensions. However, unlike with an H1-B visa extension, you can continue working while you wait for your H1-B transfer petition to be considered by the USCIS.
3. Do I need my former employer’s permission for an H1-B transfer?
Yes. You can transfer your H1-B to another employer without your old employer’s consent.
4. Can I speed up the H1-B transfer process?
Yes. H1-B visa holders can take advantage of premium processing. This will expedite the transfer and request a decision from the USCIS within 15 working days.