Transfering your H1-B visa: What you need to know

Posted by Harry Tapias, Esq. on April 9, 2021


The application, selection, and approval process for H1-B applicants can be downright daunting. It’s no wonder that once a candidate receives the visa, they are overwhelmingly relieved. However, sometimes company plans change, and employees can be notified that their role is being terminated or the position is being eliminated entirely. In this instance, many candidates worry--and rightfully so, as they cannot remain in the United States without an employer as a sponsor. In fact, upon termination of a role or notice of elimination, H1-B holders have 60 days to find a new job to sponsor them before they are legally required to leave the country.

Of course this is a stressful scenario to imagine--but it happens. It is important to know your options and what it means for you as you seek new employment.

  1. Do I have to enter the for H1-B lottery again?
    Not quite, but there is some work to be done. A new employer would have to apply to transfer the status of your visa to their company from your existing employer. Your status can then be assocaited with a new employer if they agree to your sponsorship and the application is approved.

  2. Does my visa keep the same expiration date from my initial approved job?
    No. The initial H1-B visa approval is for three years, with many recipients seeing a renewal for a second three year term. An approved transfer could you get you the time remaining, and leave the door open for renewing an additional 3 years.

  3. How are family and dependant visas affected by this process?
    They are dependant on the main applicant/visa recipient. The same rules and deadlines apply to family members with attached visas.

  4. Do companies actually hire people who already have status? Or do they prefer to start fresh with foreign talent and bring them over?
    While each company is different, there is a strategic benefit for a company to hire someone who is transferring status, rather than beginning the H1-B process from scratch. For one, the talent is already here in the United States, making it easier to organize communications on a close time zone, and move to another city if need be without international complications. Many companies are also used to this process, and have transferred talent in over the years. Be diligent about your job search but also know that it is not unheard of for H1-B talent to transition roles or leave their initial sponsored position.

The United States immigration system is a complex world to navigate. If you are looking to transfer your status or are an employer interested in transferring talent to your company, contact our experienced H1-B lawyers to find our your options.

Topics: H1B Visa, Immigration Visas, L1Visa, News, H1B Cap Season, #prevailingwage, #H1B, J1 Visa