Expectations of Those in H-1B Status

TRAVEL

To reenter the U.S. after international travel, you must present to U.S. Customs and Border Protection the following documents:

  • H-1B visa stamp (Canadians are exempt)
  • Original H-1B Approval Notice (Form I-797A)
  • Original employment verification letter on Penn State letterhead from department
  • Copy of Labor Condition Application (ETA Form 9035) 
  • Copy of H-1B petition (Form I-129) 
  • Copy of USCIS Letter of Support submitted with the petition 
  • Copy of three (3) most recent payslips (Workday PDF) 

Visa Stamp:  Visa stamps can be confusing if you obtained your H-1B status within the U.S. or if your H-1B status was extended in the U.S., since these processes do not generate visa stamps.   These processes only change or update your status within the U.S.   You must apply for an H-1B visa stamp during the first time you travel internationally after obtaining H-1B status or your H-1B extension. 

CONCERNS OF TRAVEL WHILE H-1B EXTENSION IS PENDING

International travel while an extension of status petition is pending with U.S. Department of Homeland Security is permissible.  Please note that you must be in the U.S. when the H-1B petition extension is filed.  If the extension is approved while you are abroad, you must reenter the U.S. using the new Approval Notice.  This means that the documents must be sent to you while you are abroad.

If you reenter the U.S. on the basis of your old Approval Notice, you will be admitted only until its expiration and not the extension.  This will require the filing of another extension petition.

REQUIRED ACTIVITIES FOR MAINTAINING STATUS

As an H-1B temporary worker, you must work only for the employer who filed the H petition under the same conditions described in the H-1B petition (e.g. title, duties, hours, campus). 

International Faculty Advising (IFA) in the Directorate of International Student and Scholar Advising (DISSA) must be notified of any changes in your job before they happen. 

If the employer/employee relationship ends, then the H visa class based on the job ends.  You must leave the U.S. or another employer must file another H petition on your behalf for the new employment. 

An H-4 dependent spouse or child is only in status while the H-1B is in status.

CHANGE OF ADDRESS REPORTING

You are required by U.S. law to report a change of address to USCIS within 10 days of the change.  You can file your change of address with USCIS online.

EXTENSIONS OF EMPLOYMENT AUTHORIZATION AND STAY

As an H-1B temporary worker, you are admitted only until the end date listed on your most recent I-94 and may work only until that date.  The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) must receive your extension of stay before the expiration date on the I-94.  This extension of stay may be filed up to six (6) months before the I-94 expiration date.  If you wish to apply for an extension, you should contact International Faculty Advising at least six (6) months before your current stay expires.  Please note than as an H-1B temporary worker, you can remain in this visa class for up to six (6) years only, unless you are at a certain point in a green card application.

As an H-1B temporary worker, you automatically extend your employment authorization when you extend your stay in this visa class.  As long as you file your application for extending the stay in a timely manner (before your current status expires), you may continue employment for the same employer while the request for extension is pending with USCIS for up to 240 days beyond the expiration of the prior period of stay.

H-4 DEPENDENTS

Dependents of the H-1B temporary worker are in H-4 status. 

  • H-4 dependents cannot be employed, unless your H-1B spouse has an approved I-140 petition.
  • H-4 dependent extensions are usually filed at the same time as your H-1B extension by completing a separate I-539 form. 
  • H-4 applications are no longer being adjudicated with the H-1B petitions.  This means that your H-1B could be approved months before your H-4 dependent.
  • H-4 children may attend school.  However, they must obtain their own status by the time they are 21 years old.