H-1B Travel and Visas
The international scholar should be prepared to present the documents listed below to an immigration officer when entering or re-entering the U.S. in H-1B status.
- Original Form I-797 Approval Notice. Admission into the US in H-1B status is permitted as early as ten days before the validity date on the I-797 Approval Notice
- Passport valid for at least six months beyond the date of the expected period of stay
- A copy of the offer letter, if entering the US to begin H-1B status
- An employment confirmation letter, if re-entering the US to continue previously-approved employment
- Photocopies of the I-129 Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker and ETA 9035 Labor Condition Application
- Valid H-1B visa stamp. (Canadian citizens are visa-exempt.) If the visa has expired, it may be extended by presenting the documents listed above to a US embassy or consulate. Delays should be anticipated due to security regulations. In-person interviews are always required, and appointments need to be scheduled weeks in advance. Accompanying dependents may apply for H-4 visas.
- Under certain circumstances, a person with an expired visa is allowed to return to the US without having to obtain a new visa. This is known as “automatic visa revalidation.” To qualify for automatic visa revalidation, the individual must be applying for readmission to the US in H-1B or H-4 status after a temporary absence of not more than 30 days in Canada or Mexico and have a valid I-94 and passport with an expired visa stamp. The visa will be considered “extended” (and “converted” to the proper visa category if he or she previously had change to H-1B or H-4 status while in the US) to the date of re-entry, eliminating the need to obtain a new visa at a US consulate before that particular re-entry. Persons who apply for a new visa while in Canada or Mexico are ineligible for automatic visa revalidation. Citizens of Iran, Syria, Sudan and Cuba are also ineligible for automatic visa revalidation.