H-1B Stamping and Travel Information
- Documents Required for H-1B Travel and Re-entry to the U.S
- Obtaining an H-1B Visa Stamp
- Visa Renewal
- Can I apply to renew my visa in Canada or Mexico?
- Visa Stamping In Mexico
- Traveling to Canada, Mexico for Less than Thirty Days
- Note Regarding Dependents
If you are making a trip outside the United States, to reenter the U.S., you will need the following:
- Valid passport
- Original Form I-797A (H1b Approval Notice for your current position)
- Letter from your employer confirming current employment in the position described in the H-1B petition
- Valid H-1B visa stamp in your passport. If you do not have a valid H-1B visa stamp in your passport you must apply for one at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad. Please see section below on visa issuance and renewal for more information.
Please note: If you have filed for adjustment of status and are planning to travel, please contact the ISO to discuss traveling with your H-1B documentation or advance parole.
If you have changed your non-immigrant status while in the United States and have never had an H-1B visa stamp in your passport, or if your H-1B visa stamp has expired, you must make an application with a U.S. Embassy or Consulate outside of the U.S. to obtain an H-1B visa for re-entry. You will need to present the following documentation:
- Original form I-797A (H-1B Approval Notice for your current position)
- Copy of form ETA-9035 Labor Conditions Application (LCA)
- Letter from your department confirming employment and that you are expected to return to the U.S. to resume the terms of your contract
- Original waiver of the two year home residency requirement (if you were previously in J-1 visa status and received a waiver)
- Valid passport (valid 6 months into future)
- Form DS-160 (available at Embassy/Consulate)
- Please contact the specific U.S. Consulate or Embassy where you plan to apply for other requirements, including photos and fees. Also, note that some Consulates and Embassies have recently changed to an appointment system. Please confirm application procedures prior to your trip.
If you have an H-1B visa stamp and it has expired, you must apply for the renewal of the visa stamp in the same way that you applied for the initial H-1B visa stamp in person at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad (see information above).
It is possible to renew your visa in Canada or Mexico. However, if your visa is denied for any reason, you will not be allowed to reenter the United States. Citizens of certain foreign countries (Iraq, Syria, Libya, Sudan, North Korea, and Cuba) are not eligible to apply for a visa in Canada or Mexico.
Please note that Canadian and Mexican consulates accept non-immigrant visa applications by third-country nationals (individuals who are not citizens of Canada or Mexico) as a courtesy. They are not required to accept or process applications by third-country nationals, and visa issuance is at the sole discretion of the consular officers at the post. In addition, note that as a third-country national you may need a visa to enter Canada or Mexico.
You can go to Mexico if you were never out of status. You can use the following to prove your status. Degree transcripts, EAD card, I-797, etc. If you cannot prove that you were in status or were actually out of status, you need to go to your home country.
If you are changing from any non F1 (i.e B1, H4, J1) to H1 status, you need to contact an attorney or some other reliable sources for getting the exact information.
Please note that the Mexican government considers applying for a visa in Mexico as “official business.” This means that an entry visa for Mexico will probably be required.
- Original I-94
- Original I-20 from all schools attended
- Original EAD card (practical training document)
- Original degree certificates (if not available, get a letter from your school stating a valid reason)
- Original transcripts
- Employer certified copy of LCA
- Employer certified copy of I-129 with cover letter that was submitted to USCIS for getting H-1B visa.
- Original I-797 approval form (H1 visa approval, Notice of action)
- Original letter of employment verifying your salary, position, employment dates and duties.
- Previous pay stubs
- Tax returns and W-2 forms for all the years while you were in the US.
If you have an expired H-1B visa stamp or if you have an expired U.S. Non-immigrant visa of any other type (e.g. B,F, J) and you have a valid I-94 card stating your current valid H-1B status, your visa will be considered automatically re-validated when you re-enter the U.S. from Canada or Mexico as long as ALL of the following are true:
- You have only been in Canada or Mexico for less than 30 days
- You have with you a current I-94 card stating your valid H-1B status
- You don't apply for a visa while in Canada or Mexico
- You are not from one of the countries currently considered by the U.S to be state sponsors of terrorism (as of 11/11/02 this includes Iran, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Sudan, North Korea, and Cuba)
For this automatic re-validation to apply to you, you must be careful to keep your I-94 card when leaving the U.S. to enter Canada or Mexico for a trip of less than 30 days. Present your I-94 card along with your valid passport, original Form I-797 (H-1B Approval notice for your current position) and a letter from your employer confirming current employment in the position described in the H-1B petition.
H-4 spouses and minor children must also meet the above passport and visa requirements and show proof of family relationship for re-entry to the U.S. if they are not accompanied by the H-1 scholar and must have Form I-797 (H-1 approval form).
(Disclaimer: The above information is just the opinion of AssureConsulting.com and does not substitute the service of a lawyer. Readers are requested to get proper legal advice before taking any action.)