In response to a query by the American Immigration Lawyers Association ("AILA"), Customs and Border Protection ("CBP") recently clarified an important issue regarding the nonimmigrant visa holders who seek to enter the U.S. in H-1B, L-1, O-1, P-1, and R-1 status with visas issued to them before they changed employers. For several years there has been a lack of clarity surrounding whether these nonimmigrants needed to obtain new visas abroad after changing employers, since their unexpired visas listed their first employer ("Employer A"), and the I-797 approval notices they would present to CBP along with their visa at the time of re-entry into the U.S. would list their new employer ("Employer B"). CBP confirmed to the CBP Office of Field Operations Liaison Committee that in most cases applicants do not need to first obtain a new visa annotated with Employer B's name on it -- the applicants may continue to use the visa annotated with Employer A's name, so long as the applicants present a valid I-797 approval notice associated with Employer B at the time of entry.
Although this is the first time CBP has offered this view as an agency, nonimmigrant visa holders should be aware there is still no direct written guidance from CBP on this matter. Despite the lack of official guidance, CBP's offering this view is a positive step perhaps towards a more codified approach that could provide more consistency for nonimmigrants who change employers after first obtaining their visa abroad. If you have questions about visa validity, changes of employer petitions, or CBP procedures, we encourage you to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.