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Travel While in H-1B Status

A worker currently residing in the U.S. in H-1B status may leave and make re-entry into the U.S. as long as he/she has the following documents at the initial point of entry:

  • Valid passport
  • Valid U.S. visa stamp in the passport
  • Valid I-797 approval notice (issued by USCIS)
  • Although not required, individuals are advised to have a letter from his/her immediate supervisor that verifies current employment status with the Medical Center.

Travel to Canada or Mexico for 30 Days or Less

A worker may travel to Canada or Mexico for 30 days or less, and make re-entry into the U.S. with an expired H-1B visa stamp in his/her passport. This visa waiver also applies to some of the Caribbean islands. For a list of islands that are part of the waiver system, contact Pam Redmond, 336-716-1194.

Travel While Extension of Stay is Pending

A worker may travel abroad while an extension of stay is pending with USCIS, provided that he/she returns to the U.S. prior to the expiration date listed on the current H-1B approval notice

Travel While a Change of Status to H-1B is Pending

A worker who leaves the U.S. while a change of status request is pending with USCIS is considered to have abandoned his/her petition and most likely will be denied entry to the U.S. at their initial point of entry. A worker who leaves the country and re-enters in another nonimmigrant category while a change to H-1B is pending with USCIS will not be allowed to adjust status to H-1B in the U.S., even if the petition is approved by USCIS.

Travel While a Change of Employers Petition is Pending (Portability Provision)

A worker who has field for a change of employers may leave and re-enter the U.S. In their current H-1B status as long as they are in possession of the following documents when they arrive at their initial port of entry:

  • Valid passport
  • Valid U.S. visa stamp in the passport
  • Copy of Form I-94 (arrival/departure record)
  • I-797 receipt notice from USCIS (This document proves that an application for a change of employer was filed in a timely manner.)
  • I-797 approval notice/notice of action for previous employer (This document may be used by visa-exempt nonimmigrants who were not issued Form I-94 when they entered the country.)

Quick Reference

Pamela Melton
Program Manager


M-F, 10 am - 5 pm
Office of International Services
Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center
Medical Center Blvd.
Winston-Salem, NC 27407
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Last Updated: 09-15-2016
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Disclaimer: The information on this website is for general informational purposes only and SHOULD NOT be relied upon as a substitute for sound professional medical advice, evaluation or care from your physician or other qualified health care provider.

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