Here’s another edition of “Dear Sophie,” the advice column that answers immigration-related questions about working at technology companies.
“Your questions are vital to the spread of knowledge that allows people all over the world to rise above borders and pursue their dreams,” says Sophie Alcorn, a Silicon Valley immigration attorney. “Whether you’re in people ops, a founder or seeking a job in Silicon Valley, I would love to answer your questions in my next column.”
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I am currently working in Seattle after relocating from Chile on an L-1B visa.
Can I change my L-1B visa to an H-1B with a different company? My understanding is that L visas are restricted to working only with the issuing company.
— Charming Chilean
Congrats on taking the first step in seeking out new opportunities — and thanks for including me on your journey!
Yes, you are correct: L visas for intra-company transferees enable you to work only for the company that sponsored you for the visa.
All non-immigrant work visas, including the L-1B, require you to have a job offer and an employer sponsor, and your visa is tied to your job with that employer. The short answer to your question is: yes, you can take a new job with a different company that is willing to sponsor you for an H-1B specialty occupation visa or other work visas.
It’s great that you’re looking to make this change now, because filing fees for the H-1B and other work visas are soon to increase substantially. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security, which oversees U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), has proposed raising the fees for the L-1, H-1B, and most other non-immigrant visas and green cards, as well as increasing the premium processing time from 15 calendar days to 15 business days.
Under the proposal, the registration fee for the H-1B lottery would increase to $215 from just $10, and the H-1B filing fee would increase to $780 from $460. DHS, which asserts that these increases are necessary to reduce processing times and eliminate backlogs, will accept public comments on the proposed rule through March 6, 2023, and I urge you to let DHS know how these changes might affect your ability to change jobs.