Travel during the Visa Request Process

Always discuss your travel plans with the International Scholars Operations (ISO) team before traveling internationally and before any petition is filed with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) on your behalf.

Changes of Status

If you are in the U.S. and attempting to change your status to H-1B, or if your dependents are applying for a change of status to H-4, do not travel outside the U.S. while the petition is pending with USCIS. USCIS may say that you have abandoned the petition and deny your change of status. In this situation, you would have to exit the U.S., apply for a new H-1B visa stamp, and reenter as outlined in Coming to the U.S. page.

Extensions of Status and Changes of Employer

You can travel internationally and reenter the U.S. while your H-1B status is being extended or transferred from one employer to another, provided you have a valid I-797 Approval Notice and a valid H-1B visa (unless visa-exempt or eligible for automatic visa revalidation). If your current H-1B expires before you return, you may have to wait until the H-1B extension is approved to reenter.

Returning to the U.S. after a Temporary Absence

When returning to the U.S. after a temporary absence, be prepared to show the following to the Customs and Border Protection officer:

  • Original and unexpired Form I-797 Approval Notice.
  • Passport valid for at least 6 months beyond the end date of your expected stay.
  • Letter from your UW host department confirming you are returning to continue full-time employment in the job described in the I-129 petition.
  • Photocopies of the I-129 petition and supporting documentation including Form ETA 9035 Labor Condition Application.
    • These were forwarded to you by your host department. If you cannot locate them, contact ISO.
  • Valid H-1B visa stamp. (Canadian citizens are visa-exempt.)
    • Note: If the visa has expired, it may be extended by presenting the documents listed above to a U.S. consulate. Anticipate delays due to security reviews. For information about the visa process and to schedule an interview appointment, contact the U.S. consulate in the city where the application will be submitted.

Short Travel to Canada or Mexico under Automatic Visa Revalidation

A valid H-1B visa stamp (or H-4 visa stamp) is not required for reentry to the U.S. following a visit of less than 30 days in Canada or Mexico, as long as you have a valid H-1B approval notice. This is called automatic visa revalidation. However, if you apply for a new visa while in Canada or Mexico, you will not be able to return to the U.S. unless the visa is granted.

Automatic visa revalidation is not available to nationals of countries on the State Sponsors of Terrorism list.