H1B Visa Transfer Process - Requirements - Documents Checklist - Cost

H1B Transfer Process – Requirements, Documents, Timelines, Cost, FAQs

In Apply H1B Visa by SaurabhUpdated : 2175 Comments

It is a one of the most common questions for H1B workers that “Can I transfer my H1B visa to another company?”. This question can arrive after working for a company for several years, or just after landing in US, or even before flying to US. As part of this article, we will look at various scenarios, look at overall process, documents required, understand the cost, timelines, and common FAQs.

Legally, is there something really called H1B Visa Transfer ?

First of all, there is nothing called “H1B transfer” (i.e. legally). It is a term coined for our convenience. H1B transfer is basically filing a new H1B visa petition, which is not counted in the H1B visa quota cap or H1B Visa lottery, because the applicant has already been counted in the quota once in the past 6 years. This term is typically used, when one plans to change current employer and join another employer.

Various H1B Visa Transfer Scenarios or Situations by Employees

Below are some of the common situations for H1B Visa transfer that are encountered by employees, who are planning for it.

  1. H1B Transfer Applicant has never been to US, but wants to do H1B transfer to change employers.
  2. H1B holder, who just arrived in US plans for H1B Transfer within 15 days of Landing in US
  3. H1B Holder plans to do H1B transfer and change employers anytime after 15 days of Landing in US
  4. H1B visa holder worked in US for sometime, left to home country and files petition from home country

USCIS looks at the H1B transfer applicant’s status  and verifies, if the applicant has maintained proper status in US, in order to approve the petition. Now, let us look at the above listed four scenarios in context of applicant’s ‘status’ in US.  It is important to understand this because, applicants have to provide relevant documents like Pay Stubs, Tax Documents, etc for H1B transfer to prove that they were in status at the time of filing. You may read article US Visa vs Status to understand the difference.

Did the applicant Maintain Status in US ?

  1. Scenario 1: H1B Transfer Applicant has never been to US, but wants to do H1B transfer to change employers:  In this case, for question regarding prior status in US doesn’t exist, because the applicant never visited status and as long as you are outside of US you don’t have a valid US status. No need to provide any documents to prove status, when you plan to transfer from one employer to other, without visiting USA.
  2. Scenario 2:  H1B Transfer Applicant, who just arrived in US plans for H1B Transfer within 15 days of Landing in US : Because the applicant has just landed in US, he/ she now has a status. However, because it has been less than 15 days, that status is not fully defined yet (payroll typically starts in 15 days). So one can still dodge the bullet and may not have to prove his/her current legal status. So, in this case, the applicant does not need to submit pay slips to prove status, just I-94 and Port of entry stamp would do.
  3. Scenario 3:  H1B Transfer Applicant plans to do H1B transfer and change employers anytime after 15 days of Landing in US : In this scenario where USCIS definitely wants the applicant  to prove that they have maintained their valid status. Some of the common documents that can be submitted as valid proof are recent pay stubs/ slips (most recent 3 pay slips should be sufficient), bank statements that show salary deposits, and W2 tax returns. You may or may not have all of these, depending on how soon you apply for H1B transfer, but at the minimum you need to submit Pay slips, bank statements.
  4. Scenario 4: H1B visa Transfer applicant  holder worked in US for sometime, left to home country and files petition from home country: This is more like scenario 3, as they had valid status in US at least once on H1B. So the the applicant will have to submit most recent payslips from his previous H1B employer, Bank statements, W2 tax forms,  in order to prove that legal status was maintained while the applicant was in US. No proof is required for the period for the time spent in India. You can even submit your I-94 Travel History

What is H1B Visa Transfer Process ?

H1B Visa Transfer process is exactly same as filing a fresh H1B petition with a new employer. The fundamental difference is that with H1B transfer, the applicant does not have to go through H1B lottery or H1B cap process, the reason is the applicant was already counted towards cap in the last 6 years and using the same to file a H1B cap exempt petition.  Also, with H1B transfer, you do not have to wait until April 1st of next year, when H1B season starts, to file H1B petition.  Below are the typical process steps on a high level for H1B transfer. We will look at additional details for each of these after these steps.

  • Step 1 : Find Job at H1B Sponsoring Employer : You need to get a job at a H1B sponsoring employer. Once you have the job offer, you need to work with their attorney and indicate that you already went through the H1B cap process and eligible for cap exempt petition filing as H1B transfer.
  • Step 2 : Submit all H1B transfer Documents :  You need to provide all the required H1B transfer documents to your new employer to start the H1B transfer process. The complete list of documents is listed below as new heading.
  • Step 3 :  H1B Sponsoring Employer / Attorney Files LCA with DOL : Once you send all documents, your new employer or their designated attorney will file Labor Condition Application(LCA) with US Department of Labor (DOL).  LCA has the job offered, salary offered, prevailing wage and other info. For more info, read What is H1B LCA, why file it, info in it. 
  • Step 4 : File H1B Transfer Petition with USCIS : After the LCA is approved by US DOL, your new employer will file H1B transfer petition with USCIS. Basically, they will file form I-129 with USCIS with all the relevant fee, supporting documents regarding the offered job, etc.
  • Step 5 : USCIS gives Receipt Notice and Adjudicates : Once the H1B transfer Petition is received by USCIS, they will issue receipt notice to employer/ attorney indicating that they have received the H1B petition and for tracking purposes. Depending on the load of the Service Center and filing type either regular or premium processing, the H1B transfer petition is adjudicated by USCIS in few days to few months.
  • Step 6 : USCIS Decision  : USCIS either gives approval decision or requests for additional information as RFE, depending on the case and makes a decision of either approval or denial based on the overall petition.  The H1B transfer applicant can make a decision to join or no join after the decision is made by USCIS.

Below are additional details on each of the steps in detail.

H1B Transfer Documents Checklist – Required Documents :

The H1B transfer documents are pretty much same as regular H1B petition, but additional details like current status in US and previous H1B details has to be submitted. Below is the list. Some of these are optional or may not be relevant for the applicant, if they are in their home country and have never traveled to US.

H1B Transfer Documents Checklist from Applicant

  • Copy of Job offer letter from New employer, with details of the Job title, Salary offered and signed by both applicant and employer.
  • Resume of applicant.
  • Copy of Passport
  • Copy of I-94 ( if already in US)
  • Copy of H1B Stamp on passport ( if already in US or have done stamping)
  • Copy of Previous approved H1B petition ( I-797 approval notice)
  • Copy of SSN ( if already in US and worked before)
  • Copy of 3 or more most recent Pay stubs/ pay slips ( if already in US )
  • Copy of W2 Tax forms from employer ( if already in US and filed taxes)
  • Copy of Bachelors/ Masters Degrees or any higher education.
  • University Transcripts in sealed cover.
  • Academic Evaluation (depending on country, degree and university awarded it, there may be need for education evaluation and submit that as well, check with your attorney )
  • Copies of experience letters, if any from your previous employers
  • Any other letters of recommendation ( if any – optional)

H1B Transfer Documents Checklist from Employer / Sponsor

  • Detailed Job description of the job offered
  • Details of the company like company info, marketing material.
  • Financial Statements, Annual Reports or Business Plans
  • Copies of  company incorporation documents, as applicable.
  • Additional supporting documentation as needed based on the Job role.

H1B Visa Transfer Fees, Cost

The H1B transfer cost includes fees that are paid for various aspects of the H1B petition as listed below. Depending on the size of the company, the H1B filing fee can vary anywhere from $1,750 USD to $7,400 USD + the attorney fee( if any).

H1B Transfer Fee Component Fee in USD Additional Details
 Base filing fee for I-129 $460  Standard fee for every H1B petition
AICWA Fee
(American Competitiveness and Workforce Improvement Act of 1998)
$750

or
$1,500

 $750 – for employers with 1 to 25 full time employees )

$1500 – for employers with 26 or    more full time equivalent employee )

Fraud prevent & detection fee $500 Needed as there is change of employers
Fee based on Public Law 114-113 $4000 Applicable, if 50 or more employees and more than 50% of employees are on H1B or L1 Visa status, required for new H1B filing and change of employers.
Read H1B fee increase $4000 rule to check if it applies to your case
Premium processing fee (Optional) $1,410  Applicable only if H1B Transfer petition is filed under premium processing.
Immigration Attorney Fee Varies from $500 to $3000  Varies by attorney and can be anywhere from $500 to $3000. If the employer has in-house immigration team, this may not be an expense

When can you start working for New Employer with H1B Transfer ?

You can work with New H1B Employer after USCIS receives the H1B transfer petition and issues Receipt Notice ( I797C Notice of Receipt). This working provision with USCIS receipt notice is as per AC21 regulation.  Unless really needed, it is recommended to get H1B approval notice, before you start working to avoid any issues with transfer.

Overall H1B Visa Transfer Processing Timeline :

H1B transfer includes many steps from filing LCA, to working with attorney and processing by USCIS.

Processing time for Applying LCA with DOL for H1B Transfer :

Getting LCA with US Dept of Labor can take anywhere from few days to 7 business days, it is online and is quite fast, but can be delayed at times due to load, so factor in for delays.

Processing time by Attorney or Employe to Submit Petition with USCIS :

Depending on the complexity of the petition, both employer and applicant require time to gather documents needed for H1B transfer petition. It can vary from few days to couple of weeks or more depending on speed to get documents like transcripts, education evaluation, etc.

H1B Visa Transfer Processing Times with USCIS

After the petition is ready and submitted to USCIS, the processing time with USCIS for H1B transfer petition can range from few days to few months or sometimes many months. There is no required SLA  for H1B transfer petitions filed under regular processing and USCIS can take their own time based on load. It is recommended to file it under Premium processing, if you plan to work soon for new employer after H1B transfer.

Do you need permission from Current / Previous Employer to do H1B Transfer ?

No, you do not need permission of your current employer to file H1B transfer by a new employer.  Any H1B Sponsor can file H1B transfer petition, which is basically a new H1B petition based on your current approval notice, on your behalf without any permission from your current employer.

Do I have to inform my current employer that I have applied for H1B transfer ?

No, you do not have to inform your current employer that you have applied for H1B transfer. Having said that you are still governed by your employer contracts for the notice period and other obligations that you need to fulfil, when you leave the employer. So, plan the start date at new employer and other things factoring in these things.

H1B Transfer from Cap Exempt Employer to Cap Subject Employer – Is it possible ?

No, you cannot do H1B transfer from Cap exempt employer like University or non-profit research institution to a cap subject employer like general MNC companies. You will need go through standard H1B cap process in April, if you wish to do so.

Are there any limits on number of H1B Transfer Petitions employers can apply on behalf of an Applicant ?

No, there are no limits. You can have multiple employers apply for H1B transfer on behalf of you. Also, you may work for multiple employers simultaneously, if working part time.

Any limit on How many times you can apply for H1B transfer in a Year or Month ?

No, there are no such limits, you can apply for H1B transfer as many times as you want in a month or year.

I have returned from US and my H1B Visa stamp on passport is expiring soon. Can I do H1B Transfer ?

Your H1B visa stamp dates are not fully relevant for H1B transfer. You are eligible for H1B transfer, if your previous petition is filed within last 6 years.

What has been your experience ?

 

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Comments ( 2,175 )

  1. US

    Hi,

    I am working with Employer ‘A’ and I have my H1-B until August 2019, my current employer (employer A) is planning to file for H1-B renewal in premium processing.

    mean while, I have accepted an offer from a top tech firm (Employer ‘B’), who will be filing for H1-B transfer. Since, there is no premium processing currently for H1-B transfers, and the process is taking close to 6-8months.

    I was thinking to, first let my Employer ‘A’ to file for renewal in premium processing and after having H1-B extension hopefully approved. Later, ask Employer ‘B’ to file for H1-B transfer.

    Please confirm if this is the right thing to do, or am I missing something ?

    Thanks You,
    US

  2. Nani

    Hello Admin Team,
    Thanks a lot for assisting us with your valuable inputs and suggestions. I’m in a difficult situation and the details are as below;
    I have got Visa approval from Company A for 3 years from Sep 2018 to Sep 2020. I came to USA on 11-March-2018 through Company A i.e., Indian based consulting firm, in the month of Oct-2018 I have got the full-time opportunity from Company B [US Based Firm]. Till 2-Nov-2018 I was on company A payroll and joined with company B on H1 transfer receipt notice on 7-Nov-2018. Now due to unforeseen reasons, I’ll have to leave company B.
    Company A revoked my old petition on 21-Nov-2018.
    Company B Transfer is in process.
    1. Is it possible to move to company C with company B receipt notice?
    2. If I go to my home country is it possible to enter into USA with the new cap-exempt petition? Assume transfer petition also got canceled.
    Your earliest response could save My IT career in USA.

    Thanks a lot
    VD

  3. AD

    Hi,

    I have valid stamped H-1b Visa with my old employer but due to some reasons, the company is not able to send me.

    Now I have one employer ready to sponsor my visa, but is asking me to come to the USA first for that.

    Can I travel to usa on old petition and I-197 and transfer within first 15 days of arrival in USA, without any paystubs? as mentioned above.

    Will there be any issues?

    Thanks.

    1. administrator
      Kumar

      You can travel, provided your old employer is employing you and has a job for you. You maybe subject to questions at Port of Entry regarding the role, etc. If your old employer is not aware of all of this and does not have a job for you, then you are in trouble…. Yes, You may do that as described above. Work with your attorney.

  4. Murali

    Hi,

    I have valid petition till 2021 and currently Amendment process is in progress due to the location change . The Amendment process went to RFE and expecting more documents as well ( All documents are submitted ) . As am planning to H1B transfer from Employer A to B. i have few questions on the transfer.

    1. As my amendment process is already in USCIS. the same time employer can file Visa transfer ?

    2. If they can then there is no problem on the transfer as one more process in progress ?

  5. H1B2018

    Hello,
    I am currently in the process of accepting a new job offer for a very similar role. I am due for extension in 2019 with my current visa expiring in August 2019.

    Since there is no premium processing, can I start working as soon as I receive the receipt from USCIS? How long is it currently taking to get a transfer petition approved? Does the transfer also include an extension processing or does that have to be filed separately?

    Thank You !

    1. editor
      Ram

      Yes it is possible to join the new employer on receipt notice. But remember that its quite risky and you should always have a backup plan in case visa gets rejected for some reason. In case i94 is not expired and your transfer petition gets denied and your previous employer didn’t withdraw your visa then its possible to join the previous employer. Good luck!

    2. administrator
      Kumar

      Yes, you may start working after you get receipt. Well, you can check USCIS processing times to get idea. Transfer is nothing but a new petition without going through cap. So, you would get full duration based on eligibility, no need for anything separate.

  6. Pratik Vernekar

    Hello,

    I have a question regarding H1B transfer.

    Currently, I am doing H1B transfer with a new company. Since the new company won’t be able to do premium processing, I will have to join the new company with just the receipt. My H1B with my current employer is valid till September 30th, 2021.

    So now if I join the new employer, and for some reason my H1B transfer gets denied, then is it possible to go back to my current employer?

    Will my current employer terminate my current H1B, which is valid till 2021, as soon as I join the new company?

    Thanks,

    Pratik Vernekar

    1. JJ

      Hi Friend ,

      Even i’m also in same situation , I too have same question , If my h1 got denied , Can i still go back and work for previous employer .

      But i heard that , we can’t . But still need confirmation .
      If it got denied , Is it possible to reapply from other employer staying in US ?

    2. editor
      Ram

      If H1B transfer is denied if your i94 is still valid and your previous employer didn’t withdraw the visa then yes it is possible to go back to your old employer and start working again. But do remember that its bit risky to join on receipt number in current scenario.

  7. KUMAR SAURAV

    I got my H1b visa approved this year, I got it stamped in January 18 and it’s validity is till September 2020.

    I came to US in Feb 2018 and I have been looking for job through my employer but no luck yet. Now I have to return to India because my father is not doing well.

    I am planning to change my employer while i am in India as i dint get much help from my current employer on job front. So, I would like to know what all documents will be required for H1b transfer. I have original I 797 B copy with validity till Sep 2020 but I don’t have any offer letter, pay stubs from my employer. Please help!

    1. anonymus

      You cannot do an H1B transfer without 3 latest paustubs and a client letter.
      Your only option is to go back to current employer ,start working,gather pay stubs and then look for a new employer….

  8. Vishwanath Jayaraman

    Hi Everyone,

    Can anyone suggest me for my situation.

    I have been in USA for 2 yrs (2015 to 2017) for X employer and my visa got expired on Sep 30, 2017. On Dec Mid 2017, My extension & Amendment got denied so I rushed back to India.

    Now, Another company based out of USA is offering me a Job. So can I able to proceed with a H1B Transfer ?? and anyways I need to go for stamping once petition is approved. Kindly suggest please.

    1. administrator
      Kumar

      Yes, you can apply for cap exempt H1B petition with a new employer. If your visa is expired in passport, you will need to go for visa stamping. Your immigration attorney at new company can guide you with all details.

  9. Rohan

    Hello,

    I am in a peculiar situation. I am on CPT and work for a client through a staffing company. My staffing company filed for my H1B but my contract at client location ended on 30th March and my staffing company doesn’t have other relevant openings for me. So, I am searching for other employers for a job. Will I first need to get an approval on the H1B filed by the staffing company before a new employer can file for an H1B transfer?

    Thanks

  10. Vivek

    Hi,

    How does it take for a company to FILE an h1b transfer? I understand that there’s LCA involved. So, including all the steps, how long does it take for a company to file an h1b transfer?

    Thanks,

    1. Ram

      Once you submit the requested documents to the company, the company can file H1B transfer in a week or max 10 days(if the LCA is ready already else LCA takes 7-10 days to get approved). Depending on the type of processing they select, you would get the result. Premium processing is 15 calendar days and normal processing can take 6-8 months for the case to be processed.

      1. Vivek

        Hi, Ram

        My H1B Change of Employer petition was received by California center on December 29th 2017. It’s filed in premium processing. I should’ve received a decision by now, but I haven’t. 15 calendar days have elapsed since December 29th. I want to know if I’m correct in assuming its 15 calendar days or is it 15 business days? Since there was New Years and the weekends involved too.

        Thanks

  11. vivek

    Hi,

    I’m in none of the scenarios above. Here’s my case – I graduated out of university in USA in 2015, and i’m still working with the same employer ever since. I got my H1B approved 2 weeks back with the same employer. I also accepted an offer with a top tech company a week back and they are in the process of filing an H1B transfer. Is there any possibility that the transfer can be denied? Note that, the school i graduated from is a top school, i graduated with a masters degree in computer science, and the new company that is filing my transfer is one of the top 3 tech firms in the world. It’s a full time position, not a consultancy. Honestly, my slate is clean. But given the recent trends, I’m not sure if i can take a transfer as granted.

    Thanks

    1. editor
      Ram

      We cant say for sure. It all depends on the documents the company submits for the transfer. You can request the company to file the transfer in premium. If done in premium, you get the result in 15 days. Based on that you can decide whether to join the new company or not. In the worst scenario, if the transfer petition gets denied the current H1B is not affected in any way. You can continue your current job without any legal issues.

  12. srikanth

    hi iam in scenario 4 :

    worked in US valid stamping still may 2019 and leaving to india in jan 2018 and my next job is in june 2018 so need to change employer before joining in June, if i apply for transfer from India durig June since we might have H1 premium processing hault it would cause problem as end of june I need to join or will lose the offer.

    can I travel on my already existing visa and apply for H1 transfer as soon as I enter US ?….or can I apply from India if there is PP hault..can i just travel and wait for it to get approved ?

    thanks

  13. Sonith

    Hi,
    I have landed in us 13th Feb and joined the company on the same day. My company run the pay role from 15th to 15th every month. Now today March 12th and i got pay stub for 3days that is 13,14,15 feb. and next pay stub for 15th feb to 15th march will get on 1st April.
    Today (12th march) one more big MNC ready to file h1b transfer. So i have given one paystub to them that is for 3days. if they want next pay stub i need to wait till 1st april, i cant because premium process will suspend from april 2017.
    Now can they able to proceed my transfer with 3days pay stub or i need to wait till next pay stub to receive.

    Pls help

    1. Jigar Patel

      Guys,

      For all who wants to transfer the H1B visa — the PP processing is not stopped for them. Premium processing stopped only for the new h1b visa so no need to worry about PP for existing H1B visa.

      Please check the below from USCIS:

      Starting April 2, 2018, USCIS will begin accepting H-1B petitions subject to the Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 cap. We will temporarily suspend premium processing for all FY 2019 cap-subject petitions, including petitions seeking an exemption for individuals with a U.S. master’s degree or higher. This suspension is expected to last until Sept. 10, 2018. During this time, we will continue to accept premium processing requests for H-1B petitions that are not subject to the FY 2019 cap. We will notify the public before resuming premium processing for cap-subject H-1B petitions or making any other premium processing updates

  14. SS

    Hello Admin,

    I filed my H1B visa through company A and it’s picked up in lottery.Got the receipt number from them.Now,the status is showing as RFE on USCIS site.

    Please suggest if H1B visa can be transferred to company B if the status is in RFE from company A.

    I am in USA on H4 visa and wants to change my status from H4 to H1.

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