H-1B Immigration Status Information
- Form I-94: A Form I-94 is one of two immigration documents which, in general, permit an H-1B foreign national to stay temporarily in the United States during the validity of his or her authorized stay (while maintaining lawful H-1B status). There are two variations of the Form I-94, depending on how one enters the U.S.
- If entering by land -- I-94 card -- The Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer at the United States port of entry will issue an I-94 card to the foreign national, and will indicate on the I-94 card the foreign national's immigration status or classification (J-1, H-1B, etc.), date of admission into the U.S., and the admitted-until date.
- If entering the U.S. by air or sea -- passport Admission stamp -- this stamp will be given to the H-1B foreign national by the CBP officer at the port of entry when he or she arrives in the U.S. The individual's passport will be stamped with the date of admission, class of admission and the admitted-until date. The foreign national's arrival information, including the Admission number, will be processed electronically by CBP. We strongly recommend that an electronic Form I-94 be printed out and saved after entrance into the U.S. You can access and print your electronic Form I-94 by clicking here.
- I-797: This is the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS) document with which a foreign national applies for an H-1B visa at a United States Consulate or Embassy. To apply for H-1B status while in the United States in some other status, the prospective employer of the foreign national must submit an H-1B petition to CIS. CIS issues an I-797 upon approval of an H-1B petition submitted by the alien's prospective employer. An H-1B foreign national can be employed only by the employer designated on the I-797. An I-797 permits an H-1B Temporary Worker to stay temporarily in the United States during the validity of the H-1B foreign national's authorized stay (while maintaining lawful H-1B status). The I-797 specifies the date to which an H-1B foreign national has authorization to be employed by the employer listed on the I-797. The CIS dictates that the employer should retain the original top portion of the I-797 form, and give the bottom tear-off portion to the employee. To facilitate visa application and travel and re-entry, however, we will give the original top portion to the employee, with the understanding that it will be returned to the Office of Visa and Immigration Services as soon as he or she returns to the U.S.
Maintaining Legal H-1B Status
H-1B Temporary Workers must comply with the following regulations to maintain lawful H-1B status:
- Maintain a valid passport.
- Complete your stay by the date specified on Form I-797 or apply for an extension as allowed by regulations, 90 days prior to that date.
- Accept employment only from the employer for whom CIS approved an H-1B petition on behalf of the alien and adhere to the terms and conditions specified in that H-1B petition.
- Work only during the period of validity listed on the I-797.
- Notify CIS of any change of address within 10 days.
An H-1B Temporary Worker who does not comply with these and all other CIS regulations could be considered by CIS to be out of status. An H-1B alien who becomes out of status may have to leave the United States.
Regulations allow an H-1B alien whose status has expired but who has filed a timely application for an extension of such stay to continue employment with the same employer for a period not to exceed 240 days beginning on the date of the expiration of the authorized period of stay. Authorization to work is rescinded if the application is denied.
An H-1B alien who seeks to change employers must have a new H-1B petition filed with the CIS or some other appropriate employment status approved by CIS before he/she can begin the new employment.
CIS does not permit individuals with H-4 status to be employed.
You may find comprehensive information on the H-1B temporary worker visa on the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website.
Travel and Re-entry to the U.S
Please see separate sheet entitled "Travel and Re-Entry to the U.S. on H-1B or H-4 Visas" for additional information. The following is only a brief summary of travel and re-entry procedures. In order for H-1B aliens to request permission to reenter the United States after a temporary departure, they must present the following documents at the port of entry:
- Valid passport.
- Valid U. S. H-1B visa.
- Valid I-94 card or electronic Form I-94 print-out (access your print-out here).
- The original top portion should be requested from the Office of Visa and Immigration Services for the purpose of travel outside the U.S. or visa application.
- A copy of the valid I-797 issued by CIS to the alien's employer.
- A current letter confirming that he or she is employed in the same position as described in the H petition and needs to reenter the United States to continue that employment.
- Original I-612 Waiver Approval Notice form the CIS, if appropriate (former J-1 researchers subject to 212 (e) home residency requirement, who applied for and received a 212(e) waiver).
- A copy of the complete H-1B petition filed by the Office of Visa and Immigration Services, including letter of employment offer, and certified LCA form.
- Though not required, it is recommended that an alien also have evidence of adequate finances, and or a letter from the department indicating on-going employment.
Please note that given new U.S. State Department security checks, visa applications may be delayed by as much as one month, or longer.