Maintaining Status

Certain situations arise where a non-immigrant visa holder is required to take action, pay special attention, or avoid certain things in order to "maintain status", the term we use to denote compliance with the regulations set for non-immigrant visa classes. Below are a few examples of common situations where special attention or actions must be taken. 

Travel Outside of the U.S.

While you hold H-1B status, you are free to travel internationally. To re-enter the US after a stay abroad, you should always bring the following documents:

  • Valid passport
  • Valid H-1B visa stamp (in passport)
  • H-1B Approval Notice (I-797)
  • Copy of your entire H-1B petition (obtained from OISS)
  • Last four paystubs
  • Letter confirming your current employment (obtained from your department

Upon your return to the U.S.:
Please send a copy of your new I-94 record (cbp.gov/I94) to OISS for verification!

 

Travel to Canada or Mexico (Automatic Revalidation)

If you are only traveling to Canada or Mexico for a period of less than 30 days, you may be eligible to re-enter the US on the basis of an expired visa in your passport under a process called “automatic visa revalidation.”

In order to take advantage of Automatic Revalidation:

  • The visit to Canada or Mexico is for 30 days or less.
  • You did not apply for a new US visa stamp while in Canada/Mexico.
  • Your passport must be valid for at least six months from your date of re-entry to the U.S.
  • You must possess the H-1B approval notice. 
  • You must possess an unexpired I-94 record* or admission stamp. 
  • You must apply for readmission to the U.S. within the authorized period of your H-1B status. 
  • You must have maintained and intend to resume your non-immigrant status.

*When exiting the U.S. for Automatic Revalidation do not surrender your I-94—you will need it for reentry.

NOTE: If you are required to have a Visitor Visa to enter Canada, please be sure to apply early, as visas can take 60-90 days to issue. For Canadian Visitor visa requirements and processing times: http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/visit/visas.asp.

Automatic revalidation is not available to nationals from countries identified as state sponsors of terrorism: http://www.state.gov/j/ct/list/c14151.htm.

Taking Classes

An individual holding H-1B status can take classes as long as the study is incidental to the individual’s employment and not their primary purpose for being in the U.S. and they maintain their immigration status. 

Changes in Employment

H-1B authorization is job-specific and employer-specific. If an employee's job is expected to undergo a substantial material change (e.g. duties, % time of appointment, title, salary, change of department, change or addition of worksites), an amended H-1B petition may need to be filed prior to the change. Employing departments must notify OISS of any job change, and OISS will determine if changes are considered "substantial”.  OISS will then determine if a new H-1B petition must be filed or if only requiring the post of the Labor Condition Application (LCA) is sufficient.

Change of Address

You are required to notify USCIS of any change in your residential address within 10 days of moving by completing an AR-11 “Alien Change of Address” notification, either online or by mail. (See Guidelines for Completing the AR-11.)

Departure/Termination

Departments must notify OISS as soon as possible when an H-1B employee is terminated or resigns from their job. Employees are also welcome to inform us. If there is a resignation, please submit a copy of the resignation letter to OISS.

If the department dismisses the employee prior to the end date of the approved H-1B petition, the employing department may be responsible to provide for the costs of the return transportation to the employee’s home country (OISS and Human Resources will determine this).

There is no official “grace period” for persons in H status after their period of authorized stay ends, or after their employment terminates. USCIS has the discretion to give an unofficial grace period of 10 days, but since this can never be anticipated in advance, persons on H status should plan to apply for change of status or depart the U.S. before the end of their authorized stay.