The H4 extension biometrics can only be taken in USA at this time.
This H4 extension is filed using form i539 without leaving USA.
Biometrics in USA are taken by USCIS and fingerprints outside USA are taken by Department of state (at US embassy). They do not share their data with each other at this time.
The same rule applies for F1 and L2 biometric appointments in USA.
You can travel out of country while your standalone H4 EAD application is pending with USCIS.
Note that H4 EAD can be denied if your H4 COS or an extension is also pending with EAD application.
USCIS may send an RFE to ask for H4 status or request an updated H4 i94.
Some people have received H4 EAD RFE to prove H4 status and submit new i94.
I would advise to travel internationally like India, if someone in the USA (like husband or family) can receive the notices from USCIS and respond, if required.
In a normal scenario, you do not receive RFE or need to visit application support center for H4 EAD. But, if you do, you will have to come back to the USA.
This article will discuss:
Travel While H4 COS and H4 EAD Pending
USCIS will abandon your H4 COS application immediately as you step out of US and will also deny your H4 EAD application.
You should wait for H4 COS approval and then you can travel while H4 EAD is pending. It does not matter if you are going to re-enter on H4 visa. The simple rule is that COS application is abandoned as soon as you leave USA.
The better, faster and my recommended approach:
- Travel to Mexico or Canada to get H4 visa stamp as it is faster than H4 Change of status processing time in USA.
- Enter USA using H4 visa stamp. This saves time as you get on to H4 status immediately on re-entering USA.
- Apply H4 EAD after entering US to get EAD approval within 3-6 months. No biometrics appointment required for standalone H4 EAD application.
Traveled Outside USA, Re-Entered with H4 Visa Stamp
If you did travel outside USA while H4 COS was pending and now entered using your H4 visa, you should file a new H4 EAD application. The old H4 EAD application can be left under processing if it is still pending.
You may or may not receive an approval for pending H4 EAD. Some people have received approval but for other’s an RFE has been issued to prove H4 status.
As per the official rule, the USCIS can deny the H4 EAD application as you abandoned your H4 by traveling outside US.
Travel While H4 Extension is Pending
Your H4 extension will be automatically abandoned by USCIS if you travel while its pending.
H4 extension is filed to get a new i94 when the person does not want to travel out of US. The whole purpose is lost if you travel after filing H4 extension.
Basically, H4 is a dependent visa and does not need a petition approval like an H1B does. Hence, you do not need H4 i797 to get a H4 visa stamp in passport.
There are two ways you can get H4 extension:
- Apply for H4 extension using form i539 while staying in US OR
- Go out of US, fill form DS160 and apply for H4 visa stamp using approved H1B i797.
USCIS will not issue a new i94 even if they approve H4 extension. You should get a new H4 visa stamp from US embassy. Embassy will take your Biometric fingerprints.
Travel while H4 Extension and H4 EAD Pending with USCIS
Your pending H4 application should be withdrawn once you re-enter USA. Pending H4-EAD will most probably get an RFE to prove your H4 status.
At the time of this RFE, you can submit your new H4 i94 and H4 visa stamp.