About 236,000 H-1B cap petitions were received at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) this past fiscal year in April, solidifying its position as the most popular visa for highly-skilled foreign workers. Due the large number of H-1B visas being processed per year, there are also a lot of questions floating around regarding the career path for a lot of H-1B visa seekers and holders. Let’s dive into the options you may have about how to maintain your status while pursuing other paths in your career.
If you’re working in H-1B status for an employer and want to go to another company, you should maintain your current employment until USCIS receives the H-1B petition filed by your new employer. Once the petition has been received, you’re able to start working for your new employer before your petition is approved.
Please note that there is going to be a change starting January 17, 2017 for H-1B regulations. New rules allow foreign workers to have 60 days to be in the U.S. after you’ve ceased your current H-1B employment or until the end of your H-1B validity period, whichever is shorter. That means you might be able to stay in the U.S. in H-1B status for up to 60 days after you’ve ceased employment between your current and new employment. Maintaining H-1B status is important for a lot of foreign workers, but people working in H-1B status who are looking to start their own companies need to know their options.
A lot of the answers about employees on H-1B visas looking to start their own company depends on their business and business partners. You may choose continue your employment on valid H-1B status while exploring options to start your own business during your off hours. The plus side of doing so is that you continue to maintain H-1B status with a stable job to support you as you work out the details of your business opportunity, and you’ll have an employer to sponsor your H-1B visa or even permanent residency. Another option is to work for your own company. With that, your company must comply with all U.S. business regulations and have the finances to support the hire of a foreign worker; so basically, you’ll have to think of the costs for the business first, and the immigration aspects after. Another potential option is applying for other visa categories. If you’re in business with other people who share the same nationality and there’s a treaty of commerce and friendship between your country and the U.S., you may have an “E” visa option for a treaty investor or trader. You may also return abroad for a year, establish your company, and then apply for an L-1 visa to secure work authorization in the U.S. before returning to the U.S. Now that we’ve covered a good portion of questions regarding H-1B employment, let’s talk about getting to the light at the end of the tunnel—U.S. permanent residency, aka the green card—next week.
Edited by Winnie Kan, Director of Marketing and Public Relations.
Please note that this article is not legal advice. If you have any questions or concerns regarding your immigration case, your best option is always to contact an immigration lawyer to discuss your situation, because immigration cases are all individual and vary case-by-case. If you have any additional questions, please contact attorney Barbara Wong, Esq. at firstname.lastname@example.org or (408) 329-9184 ext. 120.
Related Immigration Topics:
Beyond OPT: Opportunities for Students
U.S. Permanent Residency: Family-Based and Employment-Based
U.S. Permanent Residency: Take Charge of Your Career Path