India travel -Clarification needed

Hello,
I am planning to travel to India in next few months . Below are the questions I have based on my current situation. Hope I can get some guidance .

  1. I have been on H1 for the last 14 years and have been travelling to India /getting stamped only on H1B. In 2021 , I had to switch to H4-EAD after which I didn’t travel outside the country . My spouse has H1B and validity of both H1 and H4 EAD is until June 2023. I am currently working on H4 EAD .

In the above situation , does both of us need to go for visa stamping . I read somewhere that under some new rule, H1B’s /H4…can do a drop box instead of F2F interview . Please confirm if this is true. Secondly , since I haven’t travelled in H4 EAD at all , do I need to go for F2F interview and stamping or can I use drop box .

Thirdly , both of us have GC EAD/AP combo card . What is the impact on H1 and H4 EAD if we enter back US with GC EAD/AP . Will my spouse lose the H1 , and henceforth need to use GC EAD for work? or can we both enter in AP and still my spouse can work in H1B and go for extensions as usually done in the past.

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You may be eligible for interview waiver as you hold US visa in past.

https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/News/visas-news/important-announcement-on-waivers-of-the-interview-requirement-for-certain-nonimmigrant-visas.html

If you use AP to enter back, you will lose your non-immigrant status and I don’t see any downside except if your I-485 is denied for whatever reason, you immediately go out of status. You may file H1B/H4 extension of status application after entering back on AP or travel to Canada/Mexico border and use your valid H1B/H4 I-797 to switch back to H1B/H4 status.

Note that AP traveller are subject to secondary inspection that may causing some delay at the port of entry so space out any connecting flights accordingly.

Thanks @Kalpesh_Dalwadi . I read through the article and since I have had H1B visa stampings in the past , I believe I qualify for waiver ( I have an approved H4 valid petition ,but never visa stamped ) . Hope my understanding is correct. Secondly does this also waive the drop box or I still need to go for drop box appointment?

If I can waive the interview , I would use my H4 to enter and not the AP , just to avoid any risk in future.

IW meaning you still go for dropbox submission otherwise how who would stamp your visa :slight_smile:

Of course @Kalpesh_Dalwadi . I asked it in a rush and then realized . Secondly I am trying to look for drop box appointments at chennai consulate and unless I pay the fee the system won’t let me to look for dates availability . I am looking for June 3rd week . Is there anyone in the group who can say, if they were successful in getting dates in June at chennai consulate.

My question is, what if I pay money , later to find that I don’t have the dates available to do the drop box in that 3-4 weeks of travel.

Any help or guidance is much appreciated.

@Kalpesh_Dalwadi - While scheduling the dropbox appointment , should I book one through one single login using the primary , or can I book seperately. My concern is , since there is no visa stamping on the latest H1 petition and this is my first H4 , is there a dependency on the H1 getting approved first . In that case will there be a delay in H4 document processing .

Also, does the CGI gives an option to book face to face based on the situation or it gets decided after the dropbox .

H1 and H4 need to submit documents for Dropbox together; else, H1 needs to get visa first. Principal applicant’s current visa is one of the required docs that H4 need to submit during dropbox.

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Thanks . In my case , the primary applicant’s ( spouse) visa is expired . I believe I can attach the same and apply together . If the system has an option to select F2F, I would rather prefer that in the interest of time , rather than dropbox and then getting called for F2F.

I have few follow up questions on my current situation . Hope I can get some direction from experts here .

  1. I am planning to book my drop box appointment in June 2022 paying the fee at chennai Parallelly I have been reading in other forums that the appointments for 2022 have already been booked until Dec 2022 . Is it true ? . What are the chances of getting an appointment in June and what happens to the money if I don’t get in June . Since the vacations are planned around work and school schedules , this makes me worried.

  2. If both me and my spouse use the AP to enter US ( this way I can avoid drop box) what happens to our non-immigrant status . Do both of us need to change the I-9 forms to GC-EAD, or can we still work on H1 and H4 EAD and apply for extension. ( Note : The H1 and H4 are valid until June 2023 , and the company might not apply for extension until Dec 2022 or Jan 2023 )

  3. When the H1 is due for renewal in 2023, Can H1 and H4 be combined and applied together for premium processing . Will the H4 also be processed in premium in that case . Also, do I need to get the H4 approved before renewing H4 EAD. If so, What is the processing time for renewing H4 EAD .

@Kalpesh_Dalwadi @Diwedy - Any guidance offered here will be much useful.

I wont believe anyone who says all slots are booked. They get booked and also canceled so you will need to check by trying to book.
The visa fee receipt will be valid till 30th Sep 2023 and if not used will forfeited.

Once you use AP, you lose your non-immigrant status and employer will need to update I-9. However you can switch back to non-immigrant status by visiting Mexico if you have valid I-797 for H1B & H4 if you wish to continue non-immigrant status till you receive your GC.

There is no PP for H4 even if you apply both at same time, H4 will take its own sweet time to approve.
You can apply EAD with H1B & H4 extension.

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Can I still work on H4EAD while the extension is still in progress with USCIS, as there is no PP for H4 .

Thanks for all other responses.