I have an H1-B Visa, Can I Switch Jobs?


Layoffs are unfortunately common considering the post-pandemic business models and the looming recession. In the event of a layoff, H1-B visa holders have several options.

Whether it is due to layoffs or an unfit environment, many H-1B visa holders are unable to stay with the initial employer that petitioned them for their visa. Just like United States citizens, H-1B visa workers will experience an abundance of growth and change within their professional lifetime, which their legal status will need to be reflective of.

There are several visa classifications for individuals who come to the U.S. tied to the field of work, level of experience, duration of employment, and more. Some individuals may work on a seasonal basis, while other temporary work engagements may vary. In all cases, an employment immigration attorney should be consulted to make sure you adhere to the right legal guidelines.

Generally, lawful immigration status in the United States may fall under the following categories:

  • Temporary Work Visas (Non-Immigrant Visas)
    • Some of the more common temporary work visas include ‎H-2B, H1-B, O-1, ‎and L-1.
  • Permanent Immigrant Workers
    • Individuals can be granted permanent resident status (green card) based on employment. The require skill levels vary from being one of the best in the world at your profession, to performing unskilled labor. The preference categories are referred to as EB-1, EB-2, EB-3, EB-4, and EB-5.
  • Student/Exchange Visitors
    • These visas are for educational or vocational purposes. Some include J-1 and R-1.

While all of the employment-based visas vary, all of the job opportunities exist to benefit the U.S. economy. Each year, 65,000 H1-B visas are granted to foreign employees with a high caliber of knowledge and experience in the fields of mathematics, law, social and physical sciences, healthcare, business, education, arts, and other parallel industries. These visas allow U.S. companies to temporarily outsource the special talents needed to conduct operations, as it is not always possible to employ the right skill set internally.

Can I Transfer My H1-B Visa to Another Employer?

Layoffs are unfortunately common considering the post-pandemic business models and the looming recession. Most recently, foreign-born skilled workers in the tech industry experienced mass layoffs. Fortunately, the U.S. government understands these uncertainties. In the event of a layoff you have several options:

  • Find new employment within 60 days
  • Apply for a change of status
  • Apply for a new H-1B based on a change of employment

Those who came to the country on an H1-B visa are also not permanently linked to their initial petitioner. If you want to switch employers, your new employer will need to file for an H-1B Change of Employer, which will transfer the sponsorship to your new employer. Some of the documents your new employer will need to submit include:

  • An employment letter with the relevant job details including job description, title, and salary
  • Visa Petition and any required documents or fees
  • Labor Condition Application

The H1-B worker must also submit:

  • U.S. visa
  • Recent pay check stubs
  • Their resume and relevant experience including their degree

Because you are switching jobs on an H-1B visa, your H1-B transfer will allow you to begin the new position while your visa is still processing with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Further, you do not have to be worried about the quota cap as you are already accounted for.

Can I Transfer My H1-B to Multiple Employers?

H-1B visas may be transferred as many times as needed so long as the expiration date is renewed. However, one must be careful that their paperwork is filed completely and timely as failure to do so could impact your H1-B status. It is advisable to speak with your attorney when applying to a new job(s) to ensure that you are in compliance with the USCIS guidelines.

If you are switching jobs within the same company you may not need to reapply for an H1-B visa. Individuals should check to see whether their new position is considered a “material change,” and file for an H-1B amendment if needed.

Do H1-B Job Changes Impact Expiration Dates?

If you submit an H1-B application for a new position, your initial expiration date will still be valid. When filing for an extension of your H-1B status, you will be authorized to work up until 240 days after the expiration date of your current visa so long as your request for an H-1B extension is still pending.

Can My H1-B Visa Transfer Be Rejected?

H1-B visa transfers may be rejected for a variety of reasons. Some of the following are common causes of visa rejection:

  1. Petitioner Errors: The most common reason that H-1B petitions are denied are because the petitioner was unable to show that the beneficiary will be working in a specialty occupation.
  2. Applicant Errors: Similar to the petitioner, the applicant also bears the burden of proof that they qualify to work in the specialty occupation. It may also not be possible to be granted H-1B status if the beneficiary has previous violations of their immigration status.
  3. Application Errors: Like any filing, compliance and completion is of the utmost importance. All paperwork and fees must be submitted timely and accurately. Failure to do so may result in a denial.

In some cases, but not always, an applicant may be able to reapply depending on the reasoning behind the denial.

Unfortunately, even a minor error may result in the rejection of your H1-B transfer. If you are unsure about any aspect of your application process, you should contact an employment immigration attorney. Having legal guidance will ensure a smooth transfer, and will give you a peace of mind.

Speak to an Employment Immigration Attorney

Job hunting can be stressful in and of itself, aside from the additional strain of adhering to visa guidelines when doing so. Migrant workers who are preparing for a new professional avenue face a new set of challenges and uncertainties. Whether you were laid-off or are simply advancing in job title, it is in your best interest to consult an employment-based immigration attorney who can walk you through the process.

Reeves Immigration Law Group wants to support you in your professional endeavors, and takes pride in the success of its clients. During our consultation, we will truly hear your story and work relentlessly to find an immigration path that matches your needs. Contact us today to speak with our employment immigration attorneys



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