Travel While H4 EAD Pending, H4 Extension, COS Abandon, New H4 Stamp

Travel While H4 EAD is Pending is allowed. Pending H4 extension or COS may be abandoned, H4 EAD may receive RFE to prove H4 status by sending new i94.

Written by Anil Gupta
  By Anil Gupta          Updated  6 Jan, 20


Can I Appear For H4 Extension Biometrics In India?

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.

Can I travel While H4 EAD is pending?

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.

What is the Risk of travelling While EAD is pending?

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.

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:

  1. Travel to Mexico or Canada to get H4 visa stamp as it is faster than H4 Change of status processing time in USA.
  2. Enter USA using H4 visa stamp. This saves time as you get on to H4 status immediately on re-entering USA.
  3. 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:

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.

Refer: USCIS


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  11 Useful Questions & Answers

  1. Ashwin Vashist
    Ashwin Vashist 16 Dec, 19 at 2:37 pm

    My wife’s H4and H4 EAD expires May 25, 2020. We have applied for her H4 and H4 ead extensions simultaneously. She will give her biometrics on Dec 16. Here are my questions:

    1) is it better to wait for the H4 and then H4ead to be approved? (we are hearing this might not happen for several months)
    Or is it better to Just go to India ( we plan to go in end Jan) and get her H4 stamped based on my H1B approval notice ( 2022 date).

    The end goal is for her to continue working in her job. So we cannot afford to not have an approved H4 ead extension by May 2020.

    I understand you get a lot of questions like this but I d appreciate a detailed response and would be very grateful!


  2. Hrishi A
    Hrishi A 16 Dec, 19 at 2:37 pm

    I saw articles like these which says, that traveling while H4 Extension is FINE. USCIS does not abandon the extension or H4 EAD etc. How did you base your conclusions on? Did you face similar issue?

    I just transferred by H1B to new employer and got approval . (not joined yet). And wife has H4 Extension/H4 EAD pending. Do you think there will be problem if i travel to Mexico for 1 week ?
    My new lawyers said, it should be fine. Only that my Wife might get shorter i-94 based on her H4 Stamp. But, when her H4 Extension is approved. That last i-94 will be the current one.

  3. VG
    VG 11 Dec, 19 at 10:38 am

    I applied for H4 EAD renewal when my spouse was with employer A. He got laid off and found an employer who is currently in the process for filing for his H1 within the 60 day grace period. What happens to my H4 EAD application? Do I need to withdraw that or amend it or file a new one along with H1/H4 petition with employer B or a combination of these? Please advise.

  4. Guest
    Guest 11 Nov, 19 at 3:20 pm

    Me and my spouse (H1 and H4) visa is expiring on 22nd Jan 2020. I recently filed for my H1B extension in premium and it’s approved. However my spouse H4 is pending.. finger print review was completed last week of October and looks like it will take 3-4 months before they approve the H4 visa.
    Me and my spouse want to travel to India from around 15th Dec to 5th Jan. so what are the options for my spouse.. will her H4 extension get abandoned? Can she get a H4 stamp in India when I go for my H1 Visa stamp based on my approved petition as she is my spouse.
    Once we return, we plan to file for her H4 EAD extension (as she is currently on a break and does not need EAD renewed immediately)…

    • Anil Gupta
      Anil Gupta 13 Nov, 19 at 3:55 pm

      Please read the article. It has answers to your questions.

  5. Anindita Ghosh
    Anindita Ghosh 1 Nov, 19 at 10:45 am

    Hi Anil,
    Can H4 and EAD be filed at the same time if the applicant is working in India?
    My H1B extension+Amendment case (within the 6 years)got denied recently.I also have approved i140 which is one month old.So I am planning to join same employer(Employer A) in India to complete 6 months on my approved i140.By this time
    1) Can my husband(having i140 approved with different employer-Employer B) file H4 and EAD for me when I am working in India for Employer A?
    2) Can H4 and EAD be filed at the same time or I need to wait for my H4 before applying for EAD?
    3) During my H4/EAD process do I need to leave job in India or I can still work as long as I don’t travel to USA?
    4) As H4 approval will take less time, can I Travel back to USA on H4 and wait for my EAD to be approved or I need to re initiate my EAD from USA?
    4) If I come to USA on H4-EAD will my i140 be still valid considering I have completed 6 months with the same employer who filed my i140 and I can file change of status from H4-EAD to H1 when needed or my i140 will be null and void as I got EAD(asking because both are future employment related).

    Can you please guide me the proper way/steps in order to follow in this case. I don’t want to lose my approved i140 and also don’t want to sit idle for a long time in USA, rather I would prefer working in my home country/wait for 1-2 months idle in USA max.

    Thanks & Regards,
    Anindita Ghosh

  6. KT
    KT 30 Jul, 19 at 2:37 pm

    Hi Anil,

    I applied for H4 extension and H4 EAD renewal on 22nd April. The application is under review at Nebraska. My current H4 and H4 EAD expires on 18th September.
    I have to travel to India from 9th – 19th August. I don’t have the bandwidth of time for H4 stamping in India.
    Will I receive RFE? Should I cancel my trip?

    • Anil Gupta
      Anil Gupta 30 Jul, 19 at 2:45 pm

      I cannot guess if you will receive RFE or not. If USCIS gets information about travel which they will, they may issue RFE or may deny it.

  7. amar
    amar 17 Jul, 19 at 9:32 am

    Hello Anil,
    Our current H1, H4 and H4 EAD expires on Mar 29 2020. I am planning to apply for extension of all 3 on Oct 1st 2019 using premium. If the H4 and H4 EAD are not yet approved can my wife travels outside country go to consular processing and then reapply H4 EAD once she comes back? In that case does my wife’s current H4 EAD be valid till March end 2020? Can you suggest us a better approach?

    • Anil Gupta
      Anil Gupta 17 Jul, 19 at 7:05 pm

      Current EAD stays valid until the validity date printed on the card.

      Once your wife comes back, you can apply another H4 EAD application.