Ask Sophie: Any guidelines for changing jobs on H-1B?

Sophie Alcorn Contributor

Sophie Alcorn is the founder of Alcorn Immigration Law in Silicon Valley and “California of the Year Law Firm of the Year for Entrepreneurial Immigration Services” from the 2019 Global Law Experts Awards. He connects people with businesses and opportunities that expand their lives. More posts from this contributor Ask Sophie: What do I need to know about getting a J-1 exchange visa? Ask Sophie: How did we move the Ukrainian and Russian team members to the US?

Here’s another issue of “Ask Sophie,” an advice column that answers immigration-related questions about working in tech companies.

“Your questions are critical to the dissemination of knowledge that enables people around the world to rise beyond boundaries and chase their dreams,” said Sophie Alcorn, a Silicon Valley immigration attorney. “Whether you’re in people operations, founding or looking for a job in Silicon Valley, I’d love to answer your questions in my next column.”

Zero2Billions+ members receive access to the weekly “Ask Sophie” column; use promo code ALCORN to buy a one or two year subscription with 50% off.

Dear Sophie,

I have been on an H-1B visa with my current employer for about two years, and I am looking to find a more challenging position with another company.

At a time when more companies are making layoffs, I feel at a disadvantage in the job market than I was a few years ago.

Can you guide me on changing jobs, transferring H-1Bs and getting support for my green card?

— Expectations of H-1B Holders

Dear Hope,

Congratulations on taking the first step toward achieving your goal. Appreciate you contacting me for guidance—I’ve got you!

The good news is that many companies are hiring tech talent. Layoffs in the tech sector—mostly by Big Tech companies—have been making headlines since last year. But I’ve found that many early-stage startups managed to save money and are now hiring.

Since you’ve already gone through the draw process, you don’t need to go through it again for an H-1B transfer. phew!

Additionally, other sectors such as healthcare, professional and business services, government, and hospitality have shown strong job growth and recruited technology talent. What’s more, federal laws, such as the CHIPS and Science Act of 2022 and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021, will lead to increased job creation over the next few years.

Get to know your ideal visa and green card route, especially when pursuing a position in the early stages of a startup. Often founders and early-stage operations leaders have limited immigration experience, so knowing how to explain the process is invaluable in introducing yourself.

Tips for managing your H-1B transfers

You have surpassed one of the biggest challenges most people face — being selected for an H-1B visa via the annual H-1B lottery. In recent years, the chances of being selected in the lottery have decreased significantly. Since you’ve already gone through the draw process, you don’t need to go through it again for an H-1B transfer. phew!

Your job now is to figure out what you want to do. What’s your dream job? Could that qualify as special work for H-1B purposes? If that isn’t the natural next step on the typical career progression ladder, can you identify the next role that would be a good stepping stone?

Image Credit: Sophie Alcorn

Once you’ve identified your next steps, you’ll need to find an employer willing to transfer your H-1B. Expand your network and leverage existing networks for job prospects. Ask potential employers early in the job interview process if they are willing to provide immigration support.

If they don’t – or if they have any doubts – move on. International talent remains highly sought after by employers. According to Immigration Trends Report 2023 published by Global Envoy, 87% of employers recruit and hire foreign employees in the US

For H-1B, the employer is responsible for paying the fee. You can tell potential employers that transfers of H-1B special employment visas for startups can usually be completed in about a month, and are typically less than $10,000, including legal and filing fees, which is significantly less than a recruiter’s. The process can take four to six weeks from offer to start date.

It is strongly recommended that all employers work with an experienced immigration attorney to draft your work visa petition. Startups or companies that have never sponsored an employer or potential employee for H-1B must first obtain their Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN) verified by the US Department of Labor’s Office of Overseas Employment Certification, which usually takes about one week. .

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