This article will explain everything you need to know about traveling internationally on an H-1B visa. From documentation requirements to the various restrictions imposed, we will cover everything in detail so that you can be fully prepared for your trip abroad.
What is an H-1B Visa?
The H-1B visa is a type of non-immigrant visa that allows individuals to temporarily reside in the United States while they engage in certain types of employment. Holders of the H-1B visa can reside in the US for up to 3 years but can get an extension for a maximum of 6 years total.
The H-1B visa is a category of visa reserved for workers in the highly specialized science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields, as well as art. These workers can apply for an H-1B visa in order to obtain employment with US companies. The US government issues a certain number of H-1B visas each year. Since these are highly sought-after visas, they are granted through a lottery system.
Only 65,000 H-1B visas are approved each year, with an additional 20,000 for applicants who have a Master’s degree or higher.
So, once you get a coveted H-1B visa, you don’t want to lose it. Does that mean you can’t leave the country on an H-1B visa? Not at all, though there are different regulations for different travel destinations.
Traveling to Mexico or Canada on an H-1B Visa
Perhaps the easiest place to travel on an H-1B visa is to neighboring Canada or Mexico. You can travel to either country for less than 30 days without a valid visa stamp for reentry to the US.
Automatic visa revalidation does require a prior valid visa and a valid I-94 form, which is a record of your travel arrivals and departures.
Circumstances and travel procedures can change at any moment. Even if you’re only traveling to Mexico or Canada, it’s best to check with the US Customs and Border Patrol and US State department agencies before leaving the US.
How to Travel Internationally on an H-1B Visa
There’s nothing quite like the feeling of leaving your everyday life behind and exploring a new country. Fortunately, there is an option available to H-1B visa holders that also happens to double as a way to explore international travel conveniently.
As an H-1B visa holder, you are permitted to travel outside of the borders of the United States as long as you have valid documentation. This is, of course, a given, but it’s still worth mentioning.
You will need a valid passport if you intend to leave the country. If you don’t have a passport and plan to travel, start the application process as soon as possible. US passport applications are available at your local post office or at a passport expediting company.
In summary, you will need the following documents to travel abroad on an H-1B visa:
● Passport (valid through the end date of Form I-797A Notice of Action)
● Valid visa in H-1B classification (with multiple entry stamp)
● Form I-797A Approval Notice
● I-94 Arrival/Departure Record
● Current letter from your company’s hiring department verifying continued employment.
For H-4 dependents, official proof of the relationship to the H-1B principal beneficiary (marriage certificate; birth certificate).
● Return ticket to the US.
There isn’t a hard and fast rule on how long you can stay abroad on an H-1B visa. However, if your visa expires during that time, you won’t be able to reenter the US.
The H-1B visa is a great way for foreign workers to come to the US to live and work here. It is also easy for these workers to travel internationally and explore the world. While traveling abroad, it is important to document your travels and keep your visa and visa stamp information up-to-date. Holders of the H-1B visa are permitted to stay in the US for up to 6 years and can travel abroad during that time.
The rules for traveling abroad with an H-1B visa seem straightforward. However, guidelines are constantly evolving, and you don’t want to get stuck and unable to return to the US before your H-1B visa is up.
Visa2US has skilled experts on the ins and outs of all things regarding H-1B visas. Experts are ready and able to assist applicants and visa holders on all matters of international travel on an H-2B visa.
If you are in the United States on an H-1B visa, you have access to many great international opportunities and locations without having to give up your job or your visa status. Visa2US can ensure you make the most of your opportunities.