The H1B visa program is a critical pathway for highly skilled foreign workers to live and work in the United States temporarily. Since October 1st is the first date in H1B status for many applicants, we thought we'd write about how to maintain valid H1B visa status.
This article outlines your key responsibilities to ensure that your H1B visa remains valid throughout your stay in the United States.
1. Understand Your Visa Status
First, you should familiarize yourself with the terms and conditions of your H1B visa. Be aware of the start and end dates for your visa, your sponsoring employer, and the specific job for which you were approved.
2. Continue to Work Only for your Authorized Employer
You should maintain continuous employment with your sponsoring H1B employer. Your H1B visa status is based on your work with this employer. Any significant changes in your employment status could jeopardize your visa status. You are authorized to work only for the employer who sponsored your H1B and in the job role approved in your petition. You can only work for a new employer once that company or organization files a new H1B petition with the USCIS.
3. Notify USCIS of Job Changes
If your job responsibilities or worksite location change, you or your employer should notify the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) by filing an amended H1B petition. Failure to do so could lead to a finding that you have violated your H1B visa status.
4. Adhere to Authorized Employment Period
You should also ensure that you do not work before the H1B visa start date. You should also stop working when your authorized H1B period ends, unless your employer has filed to extend your stay. Unauthorized employment can lead to visa violations.
5. Get an H1B Visa Stamp if you Travel Abroad
If you plan to travel outside the United States during your H1B period, you will need to apply for a valid H1B visa stamp in your passport to return (unless you are Canadian and therefore visa exempt).
6. Apply for New Status or Leave Within the 60 Day Grace Period
If you quit your job or are terminated, be aware of the 60-day grace period. You must have a new employer file another H-1B petition, file to change to a different visa status, or depart the United States within that 60 days.
7. File for Extensions before the Expiration Date
If you are approaching the expiration date for your H1B visa status, your sponsoring employer should file for an extension up to six months in advance. Filing an extension early will help prevent gaps in your work authorization.
Consult with an Immigration Attorney
If you have concerns about your H1B status or are facing challenges, seek advice from an immigration attorney who specializes in H1B matters. Immigration law firms like World One Law Group can provide guidance and help navigate complex immigration questions.
Maintaining valid H1B visa status is crucial to ensure a successful stay in the United States. By understanding and adhering to these guidelines, you can safeguard your H1B status, avoid potential legal issues, and make the most of your opportunities to live and work in the U.S. Immigration laws can be complex, so staying informed and seeking professional advice when needed is always a wise choice.