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All About Job Change And The H-1B Visa

All About Job Change And The H-1B Visa

There are many reasons why you might want to change your job after getting an H-1B visa. You might have gotten a better offer, your employment might have been terminated or you may need to shift location within the US. Whatever the reason, there’s no need to worry as it is possible to switch jobs on an H-1B visa. 

HiCounselor is the best career accelerator in the technology industry and we love to see people make sound professional decisions. Read on to find out more about switching jobs after getting an H-1B visa. If you’re looking for companies that sponsor the visa, check out our helpful search tool here. If you need some help in getting your career on the right track, contact us to see how we can help you!

More About The ‘H-1B Transfer’

You’ve probably come across the term ‘H-1B transfer’, which might lead you to believe you can simply transfer the same visa to the new job. That’s not the case at all! When you have a new job offer you want to take up, you have to apply for a new employment visa. This process of applying for a new visa is called the H-1B transfer. 

This process is a whole lot easier than your initial visa application since you’re now not subject to caps and you can submit a petition at any time of the year. You can also opt for ‘bridging’, which is the process of filing more than one visa petition at the same time. You also won’t need permission from your current employer to file a new petition, unless they’ve stipulated the same in a contract. 

Another reason why applying for an H-1B transfer visa is easier is that you can start working once you get a receipt from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). This is also known as ‘porting’ and it means that USCIS has received your petition and will be reviewing it. Keep in mind that an H-1B transfer does not prolong your stay; your departure date is going to be the same as before unless you file for an extension.

Your new employer will have to file the petition to USCIS just like your previous employer and you’ll have to show proof of your legal status. You’ll probably have to submit your resume, visa, copy of your passport, I-94 records/social security card, a copy of your current H-1B approval and your three latest pay stubs. 

Benched H-1B Visa Employee?

Benching is being looked at more closely by USCIS nowadays in order to limit visa fraud by employers. This is most common in the technology and consulting fields, and it refers to the practice of keeping an employee on hold and not paying them until they’re given their next assignment. 

This means that while an employee is benched, they’re technically still employed but are neither working nor being paid. This is seen as a fraud activity because visas are meant for workers who are needed to complete jobs and fill positions on a regular basis. It isn’t legal for an employer to not give their H-1B employees regular work or wages. 

This also complicates things for benched employees because when applying for an H-1B transfer, they must show the last three pay stubs, which they probably won’t have. One way to ensure you don’t land in such a mess is to ask your company to give you proof in writing that you’re going to be getting a regular salary even if assignments run short. If you’ve already been benched, you can report it and receive protection against retaliation or loss of H-1B status.

H-1B Employment Terminated?

It isn’t the immediate end of the world if you find yourself fired or laid off while on an H-1B visa. You’re given 60 days (or until the expiration date of your current I-94, whichever comes first) to either change your status or find a new job. If you don’t manage either within that time frame, your legal status will be over and you’ll have to leave the country. 

The 60-day grace period was put into practice back in 2017 and it starts on the day your employment officially ended. This grace period is granted to you only once per visa validation period, though certain employment-based non-immigrant and immigrant visa programs can give you some conditional leeway. 

If you need some more time than the 60-day limit, you can apply for an extension of the H-1B visa or request a change in status. For the latter, for example, you can file for a B-1 visa, which grants a temporary non-immigrant visa status, allowing you anywhere from six months to one year in the country. The B-1 visa, however, doesn’t allow you to get paid employment. So you’ll have to apply for a new H-1B visa once you get a new job offer. 

More About Bridging And Porting

Bridging is when an employee files multiple H-1B petitions at the same time. For example, you’re leaving your current employer for a new one and you file a petition but after filing it, you get a better job offer, you can again file another visa petition. If your I-94 card hasn’t expired, you can continue to file petitions but if your status changes due to an expired I-94 date in one petition, then all other pending petitions will be denied. 

With porting, you can start a new job before your H-1B visa has been approved, as long as you’re engaged in authorized employment. Your employer will have to submit an I-129 form, which allows them to employ you or amend the details of your non-immigrant visa status. Keep in mind though that this doesn’t mean your H-1B petition will be approved. 

H-1B Transfer Denied?

Sometimes an H-1B transfer is denied for any number of reasons. If that happens to you, you have a few options. You can keep working for your current employer as only the new H-1B visa has been denied, it doesn’t affect your previous visa. You can continue to work as long as your I-94 card is valid. You can choose to leave the US and file a new H-1B petition from your home country. You can also get in touch with a qualified lawyer and choose to appeal the decision if you believe a mistake has been made. 

We hope this information helps you decide how you want to proceed with the options you have! If you’re still looking for jobs in the US with companies that sponsor H-1B visas, use HiCounselor’s handy tool here. You can narrow down your search and get helpful contact information to make things easy for you. If you’d rather have experts helping you find a job and ace interviews, contact us and one of our mentors will gladly help you out!