H-1B Stamping and Travel Information
Documents Required for H-1B Travel and Re-entry to the U.S.
If you are making a trip outside the United States, to reenter the U.S., you will need the following:
- valid passport
- original Form I-797A (H1B Approval Notice for your current position)
- letter from your employer confirming current employment in the position described in the H-1B petition
- valid H-1B visa stamp in your passport. If you do not have a valid H-1B visa stamp in your passport, you must apply for one at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad. Please see section below on visa issuance and renewal for more information.
Please note: If you have filed for adjustment of status and are planning to travel, please contact the ISSO to discuss traveling with your H-1B documentation or advance parole.
Obtaining an H-1B Visa Stamp:
If you have changed your non-immigrant status while in the United States and have never had an H-1B visa stamp in your passport, or if your H1B visa stamp has expired, you must make an application with a U.S. Embassy or Consulate outside of the U.S. to obtain an H-1B visa for re-entry. You will need to present the following documentation:
- original Form I-797A (H-1B Approval Notice for your current position)
- copy of Form ETA-9035 Labor Conditions Application (LCA)
- copy of Form 1-129 (petition for H1B submitted to INS on your behalf)
- letter from your department confirming employment and that you are expected to return to the U.S. to resume the terms of your contract
- original waiver of the two year home residency requirement (if you were previously in J- 1 visa status and received a waiver)
- valid passport (valid 6 months into the future)
- Form DS - 156 (available at Embassy/Consulate)
- Please contact the specific U.S. Consulate or Embassy where you plan to apply for other requirements, including photos and fees. Also, note that some Consulates and Embassies have recently changed to an appointment system. Please confirm application procedures prior to your trip.
If you have an H-1B visa stamp and it has expired, you must apply for the renewal of the visa stamp in the same way that you applied for the initial H1B visa stamp in person at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad (see information above).
Can I apply to renew my visa in Canada or Mexico?
It is possible to renew your visa in Canada or Mexico. However, if your visa is denied for any reason, you will not be allowed to reenter the United States. Citizens of certain foreign countries (Iraq, Syria, Libya, Sudan, North Korea and Cuba) are not eligible to apply for a visa in Canada or Mexico.
Please note that Canadian and Mexican consulates accept nonimmigrant visa applications by third-country nationals (individuals who are not citizens of Canada or Mexico) as a courtesy. They are not required to accept or process applications by third-country nationals, and visa issuance is at the sole discretion of the consular officers at the post. In addition, note that as a third country national you may need a visa to enter Canada or Mexico.
Visa Stamping in Mexico
You can go to Mexico if you were never out of status. You can use the following to prove your status. Degree transcripts, EAD card, I-797, etc. If you cannot prove that you were in status or were actually out of status, you need to go to your home country.
If you are changing from any non F1 (i.e. B1, H4, J1) to H1 status, you need to contact an attorney or some other reliable sources for getting the exact information.
Please note that the Mexican government considers applying for a visa in Mexico as "official business". This means that an entry visa for Mexico will probably be required.
All the candidates need to get an appointment online or by calling the 1-888-840-0032 number. It is advisable to make the appointment online as it may be cheaper if you are investigating the availability of appointments in various consulates. If you use the phone system they bill you for each minute you spend on the phone call. Make appointment at least 2 months before the actual interview date as it will give you ample time to get vacation approved from your employer and getting lowest fare for your air tickets to El Paso(If you plan to fly).
You need the following documents for the interview if you were on a student visa before:
- Original I-94.
- Original I-20 from all schools attended
- Original EAD card(practical training document)
- Original degree certificates(if not available, get a letter from your school stating a valid reason)
- Original transcripts
- Employer certified copy of LCA.
- Employer certified copy of I-129 with cover letter that was submitted to USCIS for getting H-1B visa.
- Original I-797 approval form(H1 visa approval, Notice of Action)
- Original letter of employment verifying your salary, position, employment dates and duties.
- Previous pay stubs
- Tax returns and W-2 forms for all the years while your were in US.
Traveling to Canada, Mexico for less than thirty days
If you have an expired H1B visa stamp or if you have an expired U.S. nonimmigrant visa of any other type (e.g. B, F, J) and you have a valid I-94 card stating your current valid H1B status, your visa will be considered automatically revalidated when you re-enter the U.S. from Canada or Mexico as long as ALL of the following are true:
- you have only been in Canada or Mexico for less than 30 days
- you have with you a current I-94 card stating your valid H1B status
- you do not apply for a visa while in Canada or Mexico
- you are not from one of the countries currently considered by the U.S. to be state sponsors of terrorism (as of 11/11/02 this includes Iran, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Sudan, North Korea and Cuba)
For this automatic revalidation to apply to you, you must be careful to keep your I-94 card when leaving the U.S. to enter Canada or Mexico for a trip of less than 30 days. Present you I-94 card along with your valid passport, original Form I-797A (H1B Approval Notice for your current position) and a letter from your employer confirming current employment in the position described in the H-1B petition.
Note regarding dependants
H-4 spouses and minor children must also meet the above passport and visa requirements and show proof of family relationship for re-entry to the US. If they are not accompanied by the H-1 scholar, they must have Form I-797 (H-1 approval form).
(Disclaimer: The above information is just the opinion of AssureConsulting.com and does not substitute the services of a lawyer. Readers are requested to get proper legal advice before taking any action)
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