H1B Travel when Application Pending with USCIS
Travelling while your H1B application is pending approval is risky. We do not recommend to travel unless you have a real emergency to go out of USA especially when Amendment is pending.
We recommend upgrading your H1B application to premium and get approval within 15 days before travelling to be on absolute safe side.
|H1B||Travel Allowed||US Entry Risk|
|Amendment||Yes||May be denied if started working with H1B Amendment.|
|Extension||Yes||No entry without Valid H1B stamp.|
|Change of Status||Yes||No entry without valid H1B or non-H1B Visa.|
|Transfer||Yes||No entry without Valid H1B stamp.|
You can travel outside US while H1B change of status is pending. The risk of travel is that USCIS will automatically abandon your Change of status request.
H1B Change of Status application status at the time of re-entry to USA:
#1 H1b COS APPROVED
You will have to get the hard copy of your approved H1B’s i797 and apply for H1B visa at US embassy before you can enter USA with H1B visa. This is because your Change of Status was automatically abandoned by USCIS when you stepped out of USA
#2 Change of Status DENIED
If the H1B COS is denied while you are travelling, you can enter USA only with any other visa you have.
#3 COS to H1B PENDING
You cannot enter using H1B status as the application is still pending. You need some other valid visa to enter USA.
The underlying H1B application will be approved (if approved) with consular processing meaning that you will have to go to US embassy to get H1B stamped in your passport and then re-enter USA.
You can travel outside USA during pending H1B extension. Make sure you have an existing H1B visa that is valid on the date of your re-entry to avoid trouble.
If your current H1B visa has already expired and you travel, you will NOT be able to enter USA until your pending H1B extension is approved!
Example: You can travel to India while H1B extension is in progress and visa is still valid for re-entry.
H1B extension status when you re-enter USA:
#1 H1B Extension APPROVED
You will have to get the hard copy of your approved H1B’s i797 and apply for H1B visa at US embassy before you can enter USA with NEWLY approved H1B extended petition.
You can still enter using your OLD valid H1B (if any) but, your i94 will be restricted to old H1B’s expiry date.
This will be a problem as you will have to either file another H1B extension to get new i94 or travel outside USA AGAIN and get extended H1B stamped in your passport.
#2 Extension is DENIED
If the H1B extension is denied while you are travelling, you can only re-enter USA if your existing H1B visa is still valid at the time of re-entry.
#3 PENDING Extension
You can still enter using your OLD valid H1B (if any) but, your i94 will be restricted to old H1B’s expiry date once it is approved. You may not get a new i94 with approval.
You can travel internationally while your H1B amendment is still under process at USCIS but we recommend to NOT travel as re-entry risk is very high.
If your amendment status is approved, denied or pending while you are outside USA:
#1 APPROVED Amendment
You will need to get the new physical i797 approval shipped to you to re-enter USA.
#2 H1B Amendment DENIED
You can re-enter USA using existing H1B approval and stamp but will have to only work using the non-amended H1B.
#3 Amendment is PENDING
You can re-enter USA using existing H1B approval and stamp but immigration officer will ask tough questions. You may be denied entry if you have already started working based on H1B amendment receipt. This is VERY HIGH risk situation.
USCIS may not issue a new i94 once amendment is approved as you exited US.
If you want to enter US to work with old approved H1B and old work location (not new location), then you are fine. You should be able to enter US without any issue.
Can I travel while my H1B transfer is pending: Yes, you can.
But, our suggestion is to avoid travel while H1B transfer is pending if you have already joined (started working) for new employer based on H1B receipt.
If you are still working with current H1B employer and waiting for H1B transfer result, you CAN travel. Make sure your H1B stays valid at the time of your return to USA.
H1B transfer status when you re-enter USA:
#1 H1B Transfer is APPROVED
If you had already joined the new employer before leaving USA, you are lucky. Get the H1B i797 hard copy mailed to you outside USA and then get H1B stamp using DS-160 in US Embassy.
If you do not want to get H1B stamp, you can still enter USA using your old employer’s H1B stamp is its still valid. Show the approved H1B transfer i797 at the immigration counter at port of entry to get i94 with H1B transfer expiry date. If the immigration officer entertains your request your request, you are good. If not, your i94 will be restricted to old H1B’s expiry date.
This will be a problem as you will have to either file another H1B transfer to get new i94 or travel outside USA AGAIN and get transferred H1B stamped in your passport.
#2 Change of Employer Transfer DENIED
If the H1B application is denied while you are travelling, you can only re-enter USA if your existing H1B visa is still valid at the time of re-entry.
If you have moved on to new employer based on receipt, your old employer would have already withdrawn your H1B approval. You will NOT be able to enter USA if its already revoked.
#3 H1B Transfer PENDING
High risk if you have already started working with new employer on receipt. Immigration officer may deny you entry as you do not have the approved H1B for your current new employer.