Leaving Harvard and Transferring Out
Most non-immigrant visa statuses allow scholars to change schools or employers, although the new school or employer must prepare its own visa sponsorship prior to the change. For J visas, moving from one school to another while remaining on the J visa is called a SEVIS transfer. For H-1B visa holders, it is possible to change employers as long as the new employer files for a new H-1B while the individual is still working at Harvard.
For more information about transfers and leaving Harvard, check on the visa type that is applicable to you below.
J-1 scholars may request to transfer from one employer to another. In SEVIS, the transfer is processed through updates to the J-1 scholar's SEVIS record performed by both the current employer and future employer. A J-1 scholar who intends to move from one employer to another should discuss their plans with the Responsible Officer (RO)/Alternate Responsible Officer (ARO) of both employers, provide official evidence of academic appointment at the new program, and decide on a specific date of transfer. Since J-1 scholars are admitted for "duration of status" (D/S), which is defined as the period indicated in item #3 of Form DS-2019, plus a 30-day grace period following the program end date, all transfer requests should be made no later than the end of the 30 day grace period.
J-1 scholars who have completed their research or teaching at Harvard are given an additional 30-day grace period for departing the United States, applying to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to change from J-1 status to another status (if they are not subject to the two-year home country residence requirement), or transferring to another J program sponsor if their J-1 category allows them more time to stay in the United States.
Transfer out of Harvard
Harvard sponsored J-1 scholars who plan to go to another employer should contact their HIO advisors immediately after being offered an academic appointment at another educational institution in the United States.
Updating Contact Information
Scholars who are leaving Harvard need to make sure that their affiliated Harvard departments have been informed of their departure. They should also update their contact information with the appropriate payroll office so their Forms W-2 (Wage and Tax Statement) will be mailed to their new addresses.
If an individual in H-1B status leaves Harvard or its affiliate hospital before the end date on their H-1B approval notice, the HIO is required to notify the U.S. Department of Labor and USCIS. Scholars should inform their HIO advisors if they complete their appointments prior to the expiration of their current H-1B status. Individuals in H-1B status should make sure that their departments are informed of their intending departure and their future contact information.
Remaining in the U.S.
Individuals intending to remain in the U.S. after leaving Harvard should take the initiative to prepare and submit proper paperwork to maintain lawful immigration status. This may involve applying for H-1B status with another employer or changing to an entirely different visa category.
Moving away from the U.S.
Individuals in H-1B status are required to leave the U.S. on or before the end date on their Form I-797.
When an individual is admitted to the U.S. in H-1B status, a grace period of 10 days may be given at the discretion of an immigration officer at the port of entry. The 10 day grace period is indicated on the individual’s Form I-94.
Change of H-1B Employers
Whether a scholar is leaving Harvard to go to another employer or coming to Harvard from another employer, an H-1B change of employer process is identical in paperwork requirements as it is for an initial H-1B visa. An H-1B change of employer petition will require a new prevailing wage and a new labor condition application (LCA) along with new supporting documents. If individuals in H-1B status leave Harvard or its affiliate hospital before the end dates on their H-1B approval notices, the HIO is required to notify the U.S. Department of Labor and USCIS. Scholars should inform their HIO advisors if they complete their appointments prior to the expiration of their current H-1B status.
H-1B regulations allow individuals already holding H-1B status to begin employment with a new employer once the new petition is filed with USCIS as long as the new petition is filed while the individual is still working for the current employer. This means that individuals may begin new employment before the petition is adjudicated by USCIS, but no earlier than the start date of the petition.
Leaving Harvard to Work Elsewhere
If you are leaving Harvard to work for another U.S. based employer, the new employer may need to file a petition representing the change in sponsorship to USCIS. Your new employer will have to work with you in order to plan the timing of filing a new petition. This may be necessary even if you are moving from one department or school to another within Harvard University.
Leaving Harvard and the United States
When you plan to end employment with Harvard, please be sure to contact your advisor at the HIO and your department administrator to ensure that your immigration paperwork is handled appropriately. If you are leaving the United States earlier than expected, please notify the HIO so they may inform USCIS of the change. There is no automatically defined grace period associated with the O-1 visa. Your status ends when you stop working for Harvard.
Individuals in TN status are required to leave Harvard on or before the end date indicated on their Form I-94. They should make sure that their departments are informed of their intending departure and their future contact information.
Remaining in the United States
Individuals intending to remain in the United States after leaving Harvard should take the initiative to prepare and submit proper paperwork to maintain lawful immigration status. This may involve applying for TN status with another employer or changing to an entirely different visa category.