H-1B Visa Transfer: Process, Fees, Processing Time, and Extension

Key Points to Know

  • An H-1B transfer essentially allows you to change employers when working in the United States.
  • The processing for an H-1B transfer typically takes between 4 to 10 months under regular processing.
  • The regular H-1B visa lottery will not impact your chances of receiving approval of your transfer.
  • You are not required to tell your current employer about an H-1B transfer.

The H-1B visa is a relatively flexible immigration path with many benefits for foreign professionals. Apart from being a dual intent visa, individuals with H-1B visa status, or previous status, can also transfer to a different employer without requiring the permission of the former employer.  In this guide, we’ll cover the transfer process, H-1B transfer documents, change of employer, fees, and more.

H-1B Visa Petition Graphic

What is H-1B Visa Transfer

An H-1B transfer essentially allows you to change employers when working in the United States. For the H-1B holder to change employers, the new employer must submit an H-1B visa transfer petition with the USCIS. In total, the H-1B transfer timeline can be 4-10 months under regular processing (2 weeks with premium processing). Discuss with your attorney about ways to start the process today.

If you were selected in the 2024-25 H-1B visa lottery, contact VisaNation attorneys for filing your H-1B petition.

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How to Transfer an H-1B Visa Status in 2024

The following are the steps new employers and visa holders must follow for a successful H-1B visa transfer:

  1. The employer must submit the LCA with the conditions of the position.
  2. Once the LCA is approved they can petition for the transfer by filing an I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, before the current employment period ends.
  3. Pay H-1b transfer fees, noted below.
  4. The employer and the visa holder must submit specific documents the USCIS requires.
  5. The employer must file for premium processing if the visa holder stopped working for the original employer before the transfer.
  6. The visa holder can start working for the new employer once the employer receives the USCIS receipt, but it’s best to wait until USCIS approves the transfer.

h1b transfer steps flowchart

H-1B Transfer Processing Time

The processing for an H-1B transfer typically takes between 4 to 10 months under regular processing. Many factors affect the H-1B transfer process length. The location of your employment and even the location of the processing center can have a significant effect on the processing time. Additionally, the workload of the entire immigration system will determine how long it would take for your application to process. However, without a doubt, the longest waiting time that anyone can experience is if your application has errors or is incomplete.

h1b transfer processing time

H-1B Transfer Process: Fees

The H-1B transfer fees are the same as filing a regular H-1B petition.

  • Basic filing fee for the I-129: $460 for small employers and nonprofits; $780 for bigger companies
  • Fraud Prevention and Detection Fee: $500. This fee does not apply to H-1B extensions.
  • ACWIA Training Fee: $750 (if your employer has fewer than 25 employees) and $1,500 (for 25 or more employees)
  • Public Law 114-113 fee: $4,000. This fee is only if your employer has more than 50 employees, with more than half of those on H-1B or L-1 status.
  • Asylum Program Fee: $600 for employers with 26 or more full-time employees; $300 for small employers; $0 for nonprofits
  • The optional fee premium processing fee of $2,805
  • Attorney Fees: vary

H1B Updated Fees 2024 Pie ChartVisaNation Law Group’s H-1B visa transfer lawyer fee is determined after an initial consultation with new clients. Since each case varies significantly, we need to identify the course of action to take and include any complications or roadblocks. VisaNation Law Group’s fees page lists prices for H-4 visas, H-1B1 visas for Singapore/Chilean Citizens, and other related categories.

H-1B Transfer Documents 

Like with all immigration actions, you should comprehensively acquire and fill out many documents to start the bureaucratic process of transferring your H-1B status to a new job.  The H-1B transfer documents USCIS requires differ for the H-1B holder and the new employer sponsor.

H-1B Visa Holder Documents for Transfer:

  • U.S. visa, I-797, and I-94
  • Resume
  • Paystubs, a letter from the employer, or a leave of absence letter
  • University Degree
  • University Transcript
  • Academic Evaluation

U.S. Employer Documents for Transfer:

  • Letter of position containing the job title and salary signed by the employer and visa holder
  • An in-depth description of position responsibilities and duties
  • Marketing material from the company
  • Financial statements, annual reports, or business plans

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H-1B Visa Transfer Premium Processing

H-1B holders can expedite the transfer process through premium processing. The H-1B processing time for 2024 is just 15 calendar days, meaning that you will be able to get a USCIS decision within just over two weeks for a fee of $2,805.

However, it is essential to note that premium processing does not guarantee that USCIS will accept your transfer petition. It only speeds up your petition’s H-1B processing time, nothing more. If you are transferring from a cap-exempt to a cap-subject employer, you will need to enter the H-1B lottery. In this case, premium processing will also not guarantee you a spot in the annual cap or otherwise exempt you from the lottery.

You should also note that H-1B premium processing does not change your employment start date. You will be able to begin working for your new employer on October 1st of the year you filed your petition.

Regular vs Premium H-1B Processing

There is a considerable difference between regular and premium processing for H-1B applications. You should choose premium processing for your H-1B if you are short on time or absolutely need your application to be reviewed as fast as possible. For example, one such scenario would be if you are transferring your H-1B to a new employer. The reasoning for premium processing here is that once your application is reviewed, you can start working at your new job. Thus, the faster the transfer is processed, the faster you can start working for your new employer.

Regular vs Premium H-1B Processing Graphic Chart

H-1B Change of Employer from a Cap-Exempt to Cap-Subject

Changing H-1B employers may seem simple, but one aspect needs to be front of mind: the cap.

You can’t subvert the H-1B lottery by entering the U.S. through a cap-exempt employer, then transferring to a cap-subject employer afterward. Anytime you change H-1B employers, the new employer must file a new I-129. If the new employer is not cap-exempt, the I-129 will be part of the cap lottery.

As with all regulations, some exceptions may allow some to get around the cap even if they transfer to cap-subject employers.

Concurrent H-1B Employment

If you’re changing H-1B employers from a cap-exempt to cap-subject, you can temporarily avoid the lottery by working at both simultaneously. However, if you end this concurrent employment and stay with only the cap-subject employer USCIS can revoke your H-1B visa.

This strategy best serves immigrants like international medical graduates (IMG). IMGs with H-1Bs graduating from residency and fellowship and moving to a private employer are usually stuck in a period where there are no H-1Bs left for the year. If an IMG can have the residency or fellowship program extend the cap-exempt H-1B until October 31 so that they can work at both, they can temporarily avoid the cap lottery.

Always work alongside your immigration attorney throughout the H-1B transfer process to make sure that you are making the best decisions for your case.

Previous H-1B Cap-Subject Employment

Suppose you’re moving from cap-exempt to cap-subject, and you’ve previously had a cap-subject position, you might be able to avoid the lottery. If you didn’t use your full six years at the previous cap-subject position, then you can use that spare time and avoid the lottery.

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Transferring H-1B Jobs to Your Own Business

While there is no way to petition for yourself, a loophole allows business owners to use their company to support their H-1B. To be able to transfer your H-1B status to your own business, you will have to have a system that does not include you being the sponsor. A legitimate employer-employee relationship must exist, so how do you do that as the owner?

The most common practice (though this entire situation is uncommon) is to set up a CEO or board of directors that has the power to control your salary, dictate your tasks, and even fire you. This entity must sponsor you, as you cannot sponsor yourself. Proving that an employer-employee relationship exists in this situation can be difficult. If you’re planning on transferring your H-1B job to your own business, it’s best with the help of an experienced attorney.

H-1B Visa Transfer Process

H-1B Transfer FAQs

VisaNation Law Group’s attorneys frequently get asked about the H-1B transfer process and the credentials necessary to carry out a transfer. Below are the most common questions:

Q. Does the normal H-1B cap have any effect on my H-1B transfer process?

The regular H-1B cap is an entirely separate process on its own. The great thing is that the regular quote will not impact your chances of receiving approval. Because you have already been counted against the cap, USCIS will not enter your H-1B transfer petition into the lottery.

Q. Before applying for an H-1B transfer with a new employer do I need to tell my current employer?

You are not required to tell your current employer about an H-1B transfer. It is up to you what information you decide to reveal to colleagues and employers.

Q. Is there a maximum number of times I may apply for a transfer?

There are no limits on the number of times you may apply for a transfer. Portability is one of the many benefits of having an H-1B visa over other work visas such as the L-1 visa.

Q. Can I apply for an H-1B transfer with more than one employer at a time?

Yes, nothing is preventing you from applying to work for multiple employers. Because the H-1B visa allows you to work part-time, you may also work for multiple employers simultaneously.

Q. Can I start working for my employer if I only have an H-1B transfer receipt and the petition has not been approved yet?

Yes. As long as specific requirements are met, you may begin working at your new H-1B job before receiving approval as long as you have gotten a receipt that the USCIS has received your petition. The requirements to be met are these:

If you can check all of these boxes, USCIS will likely approve your H-1B transfer petition, and you can start working for your new employer. Keep in mind that you do not necessarily need to get an official receipt from the USCIS—a receipt from your mail carrier will work.

However, if the USCIS denies your transfer petition, you will need to cease working immediately and make plans to leave the U.S. or find a new H-1B job before your 60-day grace period expires. Therefore, you must consider the risk of working for the new employer before getting the official approval notice.

Q. If I have an H-1B visa stamp from my previous employer but now have received a new approval (new employer), will I need to get another H-1 visa stamp in my passport?

Being on H-1B status and having an H-1B visa stamp is different. The visa stamp authorizes entry into the United States, while USCIS requires H-1B status to work for your petitioning employer.

Say you received approval for your new H-1B employer; that means you can only legally work for that employer. However, if you travel outside the country and your H-1B stamp is still valid then you can use that in conjunction with your new petition to travel back into the country.

What happens if your H-1B visa stamp has expired? Then you need to get your passport stamped again before traveling back into the U.S. An H-1B transfer attorney can better direct you regarding this type of situation.

Learn more about H-1b visa transfer before stamping in this guide.

Q. Is there an abbreviated H-1B visa transfer process or a quicker way to file?

We often get this question since many individuals assume that an H-1B visa transfer is a quick and easy deal. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. All filings must be complete and fully establish an applicant’s eligibility in that category.

If you do not meet the necessary compliance requirements or are missing information in the documents, you risk USCIS denying you. For that reason, you should seek help from an experienced H-1B transfer lawyer.

Q. What if I apply for an H-1B transfer with another employer and it’s approved but later decide to continue working with my current employer?

Even if USCIS approves your H-1B transfer, you can stay with your current employer.

Q. Typically, how many pay stubs should I submit from a previous employer?

The last two or three pay stubs should suffice, though you should consult your immigration attorney to be sure.

Q. If I have an H-1B that was previously approved but not used, can it be transferred from outside the U.S.?

An H-1B transfer is essentially a new application that is not cap-subject. If you can prove a previous approval (i.e., receipt number, copy of I-797), the new employer can transfer the H-1B even if you have yet to enter the country.

Q. What should I do if I receive an approval notice for my transfer, but it doesn’t have a new I-94?

The government may not have issued you a new I-94 if your current one has not yet expired and is still valid.

Q. Are H-1B transfers subject to the cap?

No, they are not subject to the H-1B cap. USCIS has already counted you against the cap. So you can file your H-1B transfer petition at any time without fear of not being selected.

Dos and Don’ts of H-1B Transfer 

The H-1B transfer process seems simple enough, but there are important do’s and don’ts that employers and visa holders need to understand.



Have the new employer file the transfer instead of the visa holder

Conduct any unlawful acts

Follow non-complete laws with the original employer

Violate H-1B status

Follow any contractual agreements with the original employer

Start working for a new employer until USCIS sends I-797C or approves the transfer

Adhere to I-9 procedures

Have the visa holder file the trasnfer petition

Create duplicate of I-94 and I-797C

Think you are required to disclose the transfer with the old employer

In some instances, it may be challenging to determine whether you adhere to the qualifications. If that’s the case, it’s best to contact your H-1B transfer attorney to understand the qualifications in-depth.

How An H-1B Transfer Attorney Can Help

Understanding the ins and outs of immigration law is essential to optimizing your H-1B transfer process. To avoid common pitfalls and to save yourself time and money, it’s always best to have an H-1B attorney handle your case. This way, the only thing you have to worry about is what you’re going to wear on your first day at your new job.

VisaNation Law Group’s H-1B visa lawyers are experienced in completing supplementary documentation and petitions required for H-1B Visa Transfers. We are capable of advising clients on deadlines and the best times to start working with the new employer.

VisaNation Law Group’s H-1B lawyers are skilled in handling complex situations that may arise during the H-1B visa transfer petition process. Contact an H-1B transfer attorney today to schedule your comprehensive consultation.