How Hard is it To Transfer an Employer Under an H-1B?

When an H-1B petitioner files their application and is approved, they’re agreeing to work with a specific sponsoring employer in the United States. This is a significant part of the terms of the H-1B visa contract, and transferring to another employer once in the country isn’t as easy as “getting a new job.” The new employer must complete the visa transfer application, and USCIS must approve the job change for the H-1B holder to continue working in the country legally. How difficult is this to complete? This overview will help you understand what it takes to transfer employers under an H-1B visa.

The Contract Terms You Agreed To

Most of us don’t read the fine print when we sign our names on a contract. But in your H-1B visa terms, those rules are binding, and USCIS takes them very seriously. You agreed to work for the employer that sponsored your petition in a specialty position approved by the Department of Labor. The employer agreed to pay you a specified amount, of which you’d be paying taxes to the US government.

Switching an employer changes all of this. You must start over from the very beginning and create entirely new contractual terms for your H-1B visa to remain binding.

The good news is that you’ve already done this once, so repeating the steps should be a little easier. However, working with immigration experts like Visa2US as you transfer employers streamlines this process substantially.

The Steps to Take When You Want to Change Employers

The first thing to understand as an employee under an H-1B visa is that you can’t simply switch jobs on a whim. You’re in two contracts — one with your employer and one with USCIS for your temporary legal status in the United States.

But you’re not stuck. You just have to follow the right channels to ensure you’re changing employers legally. How you begin depends on if you already have an employer willing to sponsor your transfer application or whether you’re searching for options. Either way, here are the steps you should take when you’re ready to change jobs:

  1. Contact your legal immigration help, such as Visa2US, to find out your rights and responsibilities. The most important part of everything you do under an H-1B visa is to follow the rules you agreed to abide by, and your legal assistance will ensure you don’t overlook any detail.
  2. Find an employer who will sponsor your job transfer. This employer will be responsible for completing paperwork, paying fees, and likely hiring an attorney to complete the process, so this can be difficult if you don’t know where to look. Your legal help can assist you here, as well.
  3. Determine the prevailing wage you should be paid by researching the average rates for those in the same position you’re applying for and in the same geographic region. You want to ensure your new wage is in line with this so that USCIS will approve the transfer.
  4. The new employer will submit a Labor Condition Application form, including the job specifications and agreed-upon wage. This is Form ETA 9035, submitted to the Department of Labor.

Once the LCA is approved, you and your legal aid will request your H-1B visa responsibilities be transferred to the new employer.

What’s Next?

The process is straightforward, but that does not mean it is easy. Dealing with the government can take time, and any mistakes can mean costly delays. Until your transfer request is approved, you must continue to work with the original employer. However, if you are terminated or quit for any reason, you do have a 60-day grace period to find another employer.

Navigating the technicalities of your H-1B contract is not something to do on your own. No matter how innocent or minor, any small mistake can be all it takes for USCIS to negate your visa and request your return to your home country. 

Let our experts at Visa2US walk you through your rights and responsibilities and help you as you switch jobs. Our professionals are available 24/7, ready to assist you as you work to improve your employment opportunities.

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H-1B Visa

H-1B Visa

H-1B visa is used by businesses and organizations in the United States to employ foreign nationals with the preferred qualifications, knowledge, and expertise in a role.

I-485 Adjustment of Status

I-485 Adjustment of Status

Submit a form I-485 application to apply for lawful permanent resident status.

National Interest Waiver (NIW)

National Interest Waiver (NIW)

An applicant must either hold an advanced degree or have an exceptional ability in their field that would substantially benefit the U.S. to be qualified.