Prior to travel outside the United States, H-1B Employees must schedule an appointment to borrow the top portion of their H-1B approval notice (I-797) for re-entry to the United States. Additionally, read and follow the instructions below to ensure you have the proper documentation for re-entry, travel abroad, and post-arrival.
Be aware if you have an H-1B petition that is currently being processed by the Office of International Affairs (OIA) or has been submitted to USCIS and is pending approval, departing the United States may negatively impact the processing of your petition. If you are in this situation, consult the Office of International Affairs Immigration Specialist/Coordinator assigned to your case before making any travel plans outside the United States.
Documents needed for re-entry into the United States:
- Original top portion of your current valid H-1B approval notice (I-797) - This portion must be borrowed from the Office of International Affairs by appointment since this is the employer’s and must be kept with your H-1B file.
- Bottom portion of the H-1B approval notice (I-797) - This is your portion provided to you by the Office of International Affairs Immigration Specialist/Coordinator that processed your case.
- H-1B petition packet - This is a copy of the materials submitted to USCIS provided to you by the Office of International Affairs Immigration Specialist/Coordinator that processed your case.
- Passport valid for six months beyond the expected date of return.
- Valid H-1B visa stamp - If a new visa stamp is needed see Getting a U.S. Visa Stamp. (For exceptions see Automatic Revalidation below. Canadian citizens are exempt from visa requirements).
- A brief letter from your department stating you are in H-1B status; your salary (which must be at least the amount listed on the LCA in the H-1B petition); and the dates that you will travel outside the United States showing when you are expected to return to work.
- If H-4 dependents are traveling with you, they must have a valid H-4 visa stamp, H-4 approval notice (if applicable), and a copy of the marriage certificate for spouse and copies of birth certificates for children. If dependents are traveling without you, they should also bring an original employment verification letter supplied by your host department and copies of your approval notice (top and bottom portions) and of the H-1B petition packet.
For travel abroad
- Check if you need a visa stamp for the country you are visiting.
- Check if you need a transit visa for countries you will travel through by looking up visa rules on a country's official websites or by visiting TravelDoc.
- If you enter the U.S. by air or sea, go to cbp.gov/I94 to print your automated I-94 record. If you enter by car or bus via a land border port of entry, you will receive a paper I-94 card.
- Check the electronic I-94s or paper I-94 cards and passport entry stamps for a notation of H-1B and the approval notice ending date for the employee and H-4 and the approval notice ending date for dependents. If there is an error or missing information, make an appointment with an Office of International Affairs Immigration Specialist/Coordinator.
Re-entry on any expired U.S. visa stamp that has not been cancelled (or marked "CWOP"—cancelled without prejudice) is allowed under Automatic Revalidation only for trips to Canada or Mexico lasting 30 days or less. This is not applicable to citizens/nationals of Iran, Syria, Sudan, or Cuba. If you received a paper I-94 card then keep it when leaving the U.S. and show it upon re-entry.
If you choose to apply for a U.S. visa in Canada and are not issued a new visa, you will not be readmitted to the U.S. under Automatic Revalidation. You will need to travel directly to your home country to obtain a new visa in order to re-enter the U.S.
221(g) administrative processing
Some individuals may be subject to further administrative processing under the 221(g) section of the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act. Please note that this can cause significant delays in your travel plans. Below find some recommendations that will help you prepare for this process.
Be prepared to have the following documents with you for the interview:
- Invitation: An invitation letter from the sponsoring organization in the U.S.For graduate students, workers, and exchange visitors, this letter should include your supervisor or advisor and details about your work.
- Resume: A detailed resume/CV, including your professional academic background, three professional references, and a list of all your publications
Prepare a written statement addressing the following information:
- Research: A complete and detailed description of 1) your past research; 2) your current research; and 3) any research you intend to conduct in the U.S. You must include a description of the practical applications of your research or study.
- Position: Your current job title and a full description of you work.
- Purpose: A detailed statement of the purpose of your visit to the U.S.
- Itinerary: An itinerary of all locations you will visit in the U.S., including dates, contact names, organizations, addresses, and telephone numbers.
- Funding: Name of the person or organization that is funding your trip.
- Travelers: A list of all the travelers who will accompany you, including family members and colleagues.
- Travel: Dates and locations of all your international travel for the last ten years, except for the US travel.
- Letter of offer from the department (have a copy of it as well as the original) (suggested)
- Copy of the position description (suggested)
Time: Consulates indicate that this processing takes a minimum of two weeks, and may require substantially longer. We are unable to provide a more specific completion date.