Changing Employers in H-1B Status
Moving FROM Another H-1B Employer TO the University of Arkansas
If you are already in H-1B status in the United States and you wish to begin employment as an H-1B worker at the University of Arkansas, your hiring department at the University must submit an H-1B request on your behalf to International Students and Scholars. You may not begin employment at the University of Arkansas until ISS has received proof that the University's H-1B petition has been received by USCIS. You should allow a minimum of 3 to 8 weeks for the University to prepare and file the H-1B petition on your behalf.
Since there is no "grace period" for H-1B status, there must be NO GAP between the end of your employment with your current H-1B employer and the beginning of your employment with the University of Arkansas. If there will be a gap between your two positions, please contact a scholar advisor at ISS to discuss the implications for your H-1B status and what options you may have to close the gap. If you cannot close the gap, then you may have to leave the United States at the end of your current employment, wait until the University's H-1B petition on your behalf is approved, and then apply for a new H-1B visa stamp to return to the United States and begin employment for the University.
H-1B status is generally limited to a maximum of six years. When you begin employment with the University of Arkansas, your previous time spent in H-1B status must be deducted from the six year limit. For example, if you have already worked in H-1B status for four years (without leaving the United States for at least one year following H-1B status), the University may only petition for two more years of H-1B status on your behalf. If you have spent time outside the United States during previous periods of H-1B status, it may be possible to "recapture" the time and use it for future H-1B time with the University. In order to do this, you must be able to document the time you spent outside the United States (through passport stamps, air tickets/boarding passes, etc.)
If your hiring department at the University wishes to sponsor you for permanent residence (or the "green card"), and you have already used some of your H-1B eligibility, your department should contact International Students and Scholars as soon as possible to discuss the permanent residence process. This is especially true if you are a teaching faculty member, since we only have 18 months from the date you were OFFERED your position with the University to file for permanent residence under "special handling." For more information about applying for permanent residence, please contact Mr. Michael Freeman (email@example.com), ISS Director.
Moving TO Another H-1B Employer FROM the University of Arkansas
If you are currently employed in H-1B status at the University of Arkansas and wish to change employers, you must plan your transition carefully. Remember that you must notify your hiring department at the University, as well as the International Students and Scholars office, of your plans to leave. As noted above, you have no "grace period" following H-1B status, so there must be NO GAP between the end of your employment for the University and the beginning of your new H-1B employment.
Also as noted above, there is generally a six year limit to H-1B eligibility, so any time you have spent working in H-1B status for the University will be deducted from that six years when you move to the new employer.
Remember that institutions of higher education are exempt from the H-1B "cap," or annual quota. If the new employer is subject to the H-1B cap, and you have never been employed by a cap-subject employer before, then you may have to wait for the next H-1B filing cycle in order to be employed by that company in H-1B status. This means that you may have to wait until the next April 1 for your new employer to file an H-1B petition on your behalf, then - assuming that petition is selected for processing - wait until the following October 1 to actually begin working for the new employer.
Once your employment with the University of Arkansas ends, ISS will withdraw any remaining time on the University's H-1B petition for you by notifying the Department of Labor and the Department of Homeland Security that your employment with the University has ended. It is your responsibility to ensure that you maintain valid H-1B status by securing timely sponsorship from a new employer.