Travel while H1B Pending with USCIS, Extension, Transfer, COS, Amendment

You can travel while H1B is pending with USCIS. H1B COS (Change of Status) is abandoned if you go out of USA. For re-entry, you need valid H1B or other visa.

Written by Anil Gupta
  By Anil Gupta          Updated  21 Jul, 19

  407    


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.

H1BTravel AllowedUS Entry Risk
AmendmentYesMay be denied if started working with H1B Amendment.
ExtensionYesNo entry without Valid H1B stamp.
Change of StatusYesNo entry without valid H1B or non-H1B Visa.
TransferYesNo entry without Valid H1B stamp.

 

H1B Change of Status is Pending Risks

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.

H1B Extension is Pending USCIS Decision

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.

H1B Amendment is Pending Result

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.

 

H1B Transfer is Pending Approval

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.


USA Work in USA - H1B, L Visa
 



Recent discussion on forum

  1. arti
    arti

    Thanks for the update Anil!


  2. Divya_A
    Divya_A

    Thank you for the quick response.


  3. popat
    popat

    Hello Anil,

    I hope you could help me with my situation.

    I have my H1B extension approved for Employer A till Feb 2022. I just received H1B transfer approved for Employer B effective October 2019.

    I have to travel to India in august and I will need to go for stamping in august and I will come back to USA late august and will start with Employer B in October.

    1. Which employer and I797 should I use for stamping?
    2. Can I use employer A I797 and do not mention anything about employer B during stamping?


  4. Anil.Gupta
    Anil.Gupta

    Hi @saminusa4u

    Are you all planning to travel or only you (the H1B)?


  5. Anil.Gupta
    Anil.Gupta

    Hi @saminusa4u

    H4 can appear for H4 visa stamping based on H1B i797.

    The pending H4 extension in USA may be abandoned or may receive RFE if they travel. H4 EAD may also receive an RFE.


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16 more replies

  407 Useful Questions & Answers

  1. Varghese Kiran
    Varghese Kiran 20 Jul, 19 at 10:01 pm

    Hi,

    My Visa is valid till September 2021. And my employer has filed a location change amendment and I got the amendment receipt. I am planning to go outside USA by December. Will there be any problem on coming back to USA after my vacation?

    Thanks in advance!


    • Anil Gupta
      Anil Gupta 21 Jul, 19 at 6:58 pm

      Your situation has already been answered in above article. Please read.


  2. TigSh
    TigSh 23 May, 19 at 11:25 am

    I am working for Company A and I have a job offer from Company B. Company B filed for my H1B transfer but I got an RFE and they working on a response. I have an international trip planned from June 15th – June 30th. Can I enter the country back on Company A valid Visa and valid I 797. I am NOT going to resign from Company A till my RFE is resolved.


    • Anil Gupta
      Anil Gupta 23 May, 19 at 11:39 am

      H1B transfer does not affect you until you have joined the new company. You can return to US using current employer valid visa.




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