In this particular article, we like to address the topic that we often see in clients.
1. Should you travel during your H-1B application or prior to filing?
We generally do not recommend such travel, until you are in active H-1B status. However, you may still travel if there is a need or you decide to do so. If you do have to travel, notify your immigration attorney immediately, so they may make proper arrangements.
2. What happens if you decide or need to travel before your H-1B is approved?
The short answer is that you may travel and that your H-1B visa will be applied from abroad.
More specifically, if you learn prior to the filing or approval of your application that you will need to travel, you must notify the immigration attorney you are working with beforehand, so that they can check the appropriate Change of Status option for your case. Those who are in the United States receive an extension of their current status and Change of Status automatically, whereas those who travel, must return to their country of citizenship to receive their visa and Change of Status before they can return to the United States. Neither affects your chances or eligibility for the H-1B visa.
3. Should you travel once you learn that your H-1B was approved?
While you may travel once your H-1B is approved, we still recommend that you wait until your H-1B actually becomes active. You are breaking your current status when you travel before you are actually in H-1B status. Often, the H-1B is approved, but the applicant is not in H-1B status until October 1st or later.
*Note: Travel prior, during, and after H-1B is tricky and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agent has the power to deny or admit you to the United States regardless of your current status. This article is intended to give the most basic breakdown, so various other details involved in this process are not discussed. Depending on your individual case, your attorney will give specific advice on how to proceed through the H-1B travel process.