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Are you an H1B visa holder working for a US-based employer? If so, did you know that all H1B holders can get their visa transferred and commence working for a new employer even before the USCIS approves their H1B petition? Yes, it is possible.
Thanks to the American Competitiveness in the Twenty-First Century Act (AC21), H1B holders can commence their jobs with the new company as soon as their new employer files the H1B petition with the USCIS. Known as H1B Transfer, this process is a godsend for H1B holders who have filed for adjustment of status and for cases that have been pending beyond 180 days.
Under H1B transfer, these applicants can seek alternative jobs and employers without impacting the validity of the I-140 or the Labor Certificate Application. The main contingency is that the new employment should be in the same or an equivalent classification as the previous job mentioned in the first H1B petition and the labor certificate.
For the better understanding, we recommend you to read Documents Needed for H1B Transfer & the Application Process before further reading the page.
H1B Transfer process is nothing like applying for a fresh H1B visa. The steps for H1B transfer process are as follows:
Step 1: Finding a new job offer for H1B Change of Employer
You must find an employer who will sponsor your H1B visa. Please note that not all companies in the US sponsor H1B visas, nor do they have attorneys or business operations in the USA.
Step 2: Handing over your H1B documents to the new employer
Many H1B-sponsoring employers prefer collecting the H1B transfer documents before sending the official offer letter. It is their way of ensuring that the candidate's H1B status is still valid.
Step 3: Filing the LCA with the DOL
Once you hand over the required documents, your employer files the Labor Condition Application (LCA) with the Department of Labor (DOL). The LCA is a mandatory requirement for H1B Transfer as it contains all the details regarding your work and remuneration.
Step 4: Filing Form I-129 with the USCIS
Your new employer will file the Form I-129 petition with the USCIS only after the LCA is approved.
Step 5: Receiving the receipt for H1B Transfer Packet
Your employer will send your application documents to the USCIS service center once you file your application. Because the transfer receipt is often delayed, you may have to wait for a while to receive it. You can submit your resignation as soon as you receive your receipt.
Step 6: Paying the H1B Transfer fee
Your H1B employer is responsible for paying the H1B Transfer fee on your behalf.
Step 7: Receiving the H1B Transfer receipt
Your employer will receive their H1B case number or H1B receipt from the USCIS. If your employer receives the receipt, it means that the USCIS has received your H1B Transfer petition, and the processing will commence shortly or has already begun. You can also use this receipt number to track your H1B Transfer status online.
Step 8: Adjudication, Approval, or RFE
The USCIS will adjudicate your petition and either grant approval or make a Request For Evidence (RFE) if it requires additional documents for verification.
Step 9: Receiving the I-797 hard copies
When you receive the H1B Transfer approval, you will also receive the I-797 approval notice, the same as the one you receive with the original H1B visa.
The H1B Transfer does not happen overnight. Each step has its own processing time, as with all other H1B processes. Here's an approximation of the duration taken for each step in the H1B Transfer process.
LCA Processing Time
Acquiring your Labor Condition Application with the DOL can take a minimum of a few business days to a maximum of 7 business days. Since it's an online process, it is quite fast.
Petition Submission by the Attorney or Employee
To submit the H1B transfer petition as an entire package and all the required documents, you and your employer will require at least a couple of weeks.
Processing time for H1B Transfer
The H1B Transfer processing time by the USCIS takes around 4-8 weeks. However, in some cases, the USCIS may take more time to complete the process and decide about the Transfer. The processing time is driven by factors like:
Premium Processing is a popular option offered by the USCIS. H1B petitioners can use Premium Processing for H1B Transfer to expedite the process and complete it within 15 calendar days. This option comes with a special fee that can be paid by the employer or the H1B employee themselves. If the processing is not complete within 15 calendar days, the USCIS will refund the fee and continue with the expedited processing.
Under Premium Processing, the USCIS will issue any one of the following notices after processing the H1B Transfer petition:
As long as you provide all the information, follow the instructions, and do not delay the process, your H1B Transfer should be quick and smooth. H1B Transfer is a time-consuming and unpredictable process.
To have a better outcome with your H1B Transfer process, learn everything about H1B in TechFetch H1B.
**Disclaimer: All H1B visa processes are subject to change. Kindly refer to the USCIS website for all the latest information.