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H1B Transfer Vs. H1B Extension: What's the Difference?
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This blog explores the following topics in detail:

  • H1B Transfer
  • H1B Extension
  • Differences between H1B Transfer and H1B Extension

Are you an H1B holder? If so, you must realize how valuable your H1B visa is. Issued by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the H1B visa is generally valid for three years, after which the validity can be extended for an additional three more years.

The H1B Transfer can also function as an extension in some cases. How is this possible? How do the two processes differ? Let's explore all the differences in this article.

The H1B Transfer: What it Means for H1B Holders

Generally, all foreigners who want to be employed in the US must find a US-based employer willing to sponsor their H1B visa, which allows them to stay in the US and work for the said employer. Due to personal or professional reasons, H1B workers may want to move away from one company to work for a new employer. Is that possible?

As per the USCIS norms, it is possible to change employers while maintaining your H1B status. Popularly known as the H1B Transfer, the process allows you to file a "Change of Employer" when you want to move from one employer to another H1B employer. Just like the initial H1B process, here, too, your new employer bears the responsibility of filing your h1B Transfer petition to the USCIS.

The H1B Transfer status depends on whether you are currently residing in the US or abroad and whether you have worked in the USA before. The USCIS has two contingencies for any H1B holder applying for an H1B Transfer:

  • You should be H1B Cap Exempt.
  • You should have a valid H1B status.

The H1B Extension: A Benefit for H1B Employees

Obtaining an H1B visa is no walk in the park. The process is long, unpredictable, and nerve-wracking. It requires plenty of documentation to get the process going, and despite all the efforts, some H1B petitions are not even approved. It is perfectly understandable why the H1B visa carries so much value, and most H1B holders want to cling to it even after the initial validity period of three years.

Here's where the H1B visa Extension process comes into play. Also known as the H1B renewal, it allows H1B holders to extend their H1B validity beyond the first three years. There are several ways you can receive an H1B extension after three years. You have the:

  • 1-year H-1B extension
  • 3-year h1B extension
  • Recapture time

Using any of these H1B extension processes, you can continue living and working in the US or start working for your Permanent Residency or Green card.

An H1B visa is valid for a maximum duration of six years. However, there are certain circumstances where you can extend the validity beyond six years if your:

  • Labor Condition Application for an employment-based green card has been pending for more than 365 days.
  • Petition is approved for I-140 under employment-based green card, and AOS/485 is pending.

Your employer can also file incremental 1-year extensions when your six-year validity period is up.

We now know what H1B Transfer and H1B Extension are. Both processes help you extend your H1B status. The USCIS allows you to work for a new employer while maintaining your H-1B status. This is treated as an extension of stay, or extension of status, according to the USCIS. As per the process, your employer must file an H-1B petition for you to continue the H-1B status if it's about to expire. Similarly, if you want to change your job, your new H1B employer must also file an H1B Transfer petition, allowing another three-year extension.

Though H1B Visa Transfer and H1B Visa Extension extend the H1B validity status for the employee, there are some differences. To not confuse one with the other, you must know what distinguishes them.

H1B Transfer Vs. Extension: Highlighting the Differences

H1B Transfer H1B Extension
It has to be filed when you change your current employer for a new employer. Your employer should file an H1B extension before the expiration of your current status. This must be done six months before the expiration date indicated on your visa. However, USCIS recommends filing an extension within 45 days of the H-1B visa's expiration.
The processing time for an H-1B transfer takes around 4-8 weeks once the application has been submitted to USCIS. The H-1B extension processing time takes between three to 12 months for regular applications. If you have opted for Premium Processing, it takes around 15 days.
It is not mandatory to reveal to your current employer and your colleagues about your H1B transfer. To obtain an H1B extension, your employer must file a new Form I-129.
The USCIS does not impose a limit on the number of times you may apply for a transfer. You can have unlimited extensions until you can complete your green card application process if you have an approved I-140, your priority date is not current, and your LCA has been pending for a year.
Your employer must pay your H1B extension fees and $500 towards the fraud prevention and detection fee. Expenses for H1B Extension include a $10 registration fee, a $460 filing fee, and a 750 or $1,500 AICWA fee. Employers with less than 25 full-timers pay $750, and those with more than 25 must pay $1,500.

Some of the processes that are common to both H1B Transfer and H1B Extension are given below:

  1. H1B Extension and Transfer have no visa cap. Because you already have an H1B visa, your petition is not taken for the H1B Lottery.
  2. You don't need to register to H1B in both cases.
  3. In both processes, the I-129 form is filed with the USCIS.
  4. Your employer is responsible for bearing the H1B Transfer and Extension expenses. You can opt to pay only for Premium Processing and the visa fees for consular processing.

Also read: H1B Visa Extension Rules: How They Work

The Takeaway

Understanding the H1B Transfer and Extension at the same time can be quite overwhelming if you are not familiar with the basic concept of both processes. For any information regarding H1B transfer or extension, visit TechFetch H1B. They have an overwhelming number of resources to help you understand both processes well.

**Disclaimer: All H1B related information are subject to change. Please refer to the USCIS official website for updated information.**

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