Travel while H1B Pending with USCIS Questions & Answers

Hi @gavy

I suggest to avoid travel if you can.

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Hi Anil, Team,

i have a question regarding travelling to India when my H1B and wife’s H4 are under extension. our existing visas are valid till end of march 2020 but we have to travel to India and get back during mid of Feb 2020. extension for both of our visas was applied 3 months ago and still stays under process.
could you please let me know what are our options.

  1. can we travel on existing visas and come back at such time (one month before current visa expiry and extension already applied)?
  2. what will be the case for our I94 that will get updated when we come back to US and how can we get it updated in the extension applied?
  3. not sure if premium conversion of the case would work as it will only be for H1B and not H4?

thanks in advance!

Hi @abhi8

You can return to US with a valid H1B and H4 visa at the time of entry.

You will get a new i94 and there is no way that you can send it to USCIS yourself unless they request for it.

Your H1B extension may be converted to consular processing automatically by USCIS if you travel.

The H1B can be approved in premium but H4 not. You can get H1B approval in 15 days and carry the H1B i797 with you. On your entry to US, show the new H1B i797 to get longer H4 i94. This is possible.

Hi Anil, thanks a lot for prompt response!

i have one question on the below point you mentioned:
“You will get a new i94 and there is no way that you can send it to USCIS yourself unless they request for it.”

-in this case can my employer send it to USCIS and get the latest i94 updated? and if not, what would happen if i re-enter US with new i94 and the visa extension process is still in progress (considering i dont go for premium processing)?
could you please suggest in the above scenario.

Thanks again!

As i clearly mentioned, i am not aware of any process to send the updated i94. I meant your employer only as H1B is filed by employer and not you.

For your other question about what happens, i already answered:
Your H1B extension may be converted to consular processing automatically by USCIS if you travel.

This means that the extension approval may not come with a new i94. Consular processing means go out of US and get a new visa stamp.

thanks a lot Anil for advising!

Hi Anil, sorry to bother you again but just wanted to confirm/summarize:

As our existing H1B and H4 visas are valid till end of March 2020 and we plan to travel to India and get back by 20th Feb 2020 - we can do it and there wont be any issue at the port of entry.

Now, as our H1B and H4 visas are already under extension process they will be converted into consular processing in this case as we are travelling.

Once we are back in US on 20th Feb, we can stay as usual in US until we get our H1B and H4 visas approved even after expiry of current visas (end of March 2020).

Once we get the approvals for both our visa extensions, we can then plan a regular trip to India and get stamping done and come back to US.

Could you please let me know if above understanding is correct?
Thanks again!

The stay in US depends on the i94 that you get. USCIS may or may not convert the pending application to consular processing.

My suggestion is upgrade H1 to premium and get approval before you travel. That will avoid all i94 issues and give you peace of mind.

But once we are back, we will still be eligible to stay for 240 days right? as our extensions are already in process. once we get the approved extensions then we can go back for stamping and re-enter?

Hi @abhi8

That’s not guaranteed. Once you travel while your extension of status is pending, you are actually abandoning your ‘i94’.

Once you abandon i94, USCIS is bound to convert your application to ‘consular’ processing if they get your travel info on time.
In many cases, USCIS does not get your travel info from airlines before they take a decision on your application and then it messes up all the chain.

It is your choice now. I am suggesting based on other people’s experiences. There is no reliable way of doing what you want to do and still be sure that new i94 will work fine.

If something goes wrong, USCIS will not take the blame. It will be you who would have the responsibility of maintaining your status.

If you do not want to upgrade to premium, my suggestion is to re-file extension once you are back in US.

thanks a lot for all the guidance so far Anil! really appreciated!