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Can I Travel with an H1B Visa Pending?

How much of a risk it is to travel out of US when H1b is pending?

You must not travel outside the U.S. if you are applying to change to H1B status from another status. Traveling outside the U.S.while your H1B is pending will abandon your request to change to H-1B status. If the H-1B petition is later approved by USCIS, you will need to apply for an H-1B visa at a U.S. consulate before you can enter the U.S. in H-1B status. If you must travel, you can request premium processing for your H1B application. With premium processing, USCIS will adjudicate the application within 2 weeks for an additional fee of $1225. This way, you can hopefully have your H1B approved prior to traveling.

If you are on OPT, then your case becomes more complicated. Generally, if you are requesting a change of status from OPT to H1B, then you should only travel outside the U.S. if you have a valid, unexpired OPT and it will still be valid upon your re-entry to the U.S, and you also have an approved H1B with a later start date. The travel should be completed prior to the H1B start date.

If you depart while your H1B change of status application is pending, then the USCIS will deem the application to have been abandoned. The H1B petition, however, will still be active. So, if you do leave the U.S. while your H1B change of status application is pending, the only way to reenter the U.S. is to wait until the H1B petition has been approved, apply for a visa at the U.S. consulate abroad, and then enter the U.S. in H1B status.

Can I leave the US without AP while my I-485 is pending?

You must have the Advance Parole approved prior to departing the U.S. If not, then you may not be permitted to re-enter. Also, if you depart the U.S. without the AP, then your I-485 application may be deemed abandoned.

If you have any further questions about traveling on an H1B visa or other immigration questions, please feel free to contact us and we can help you out.