H-1B Travel

Initial Entry to the U.S. in H-1B Status

Required Documents

  • Valid passport with validity for at least six months following authorized period of stay
  • Valid H-1B visa stamp (unless visa exempt, i.e. Canadian citizen)
  • Form I-797 Notice of Approval of H-1B status

Upon admission to the U.S., you will need your I-94 record of arrival.

  • If entering by land, you will need an I-94 card. The Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer at the U.S. port of entry will issue an I-94 card to the foreign national. For H-1B and H-4 foreign nationals, the CBP officer should indicate an expiration date on the I-94 card. The expiration date refers to the length of time an H-1B foreign national has permission to remain temporarily in the United States. CBP may include a 10-day grace period following the period of approved H-1B status.

We strongly recommend that you print and save your I-94 record after entrance into the United States.

Travel During Period of H-1B Status

In order for H-1B aliens to request permission to re-enter the U.S. after a temporary departure, they must present the following documents at the port of entry:

  • Valid passport (valid for at least six months following authorized period of stay)
  • Valid U.S. H-1B visa stamp in passport (unless visa exempt, such as a Canadian citizen)
  • Original, valid Form I-797 Notice of Approval of H-1B employment
  • Evidence of current H-1B employment, including most recent pay statements and/or a letter from Human Resources verifying employment. This is not required, but recommended.

If your H-1B visa stamp is expired, or you have never held an H-1B stamp in your passport, you must apply for and receive a new stamp before returning to the United States. OVIS recommends that you check with the relevant consulate or embassy in your home country for specific information on the visa application process, as well as fees and appointment wait times.

Automatic Revalidation

After initial entry to the U.S., nonimmigrants who have an expired visa in their passport may re-enter the U.S. without obtaining a new visa if their travel was solely to the contiguous countries of Canada and Mexico.  F and J visa holders may also be able to benefit from Automatic Revalidation after travel to the Caribbean Islands (excluding Cuba).  Travel must be for a period of fewer than 30 days. This procedure is known as Automatic Revalidation of the U.S. visa.

To take advantage of Automatic Revalidation, travelers must have, in addition to the documents for re-entry stated above, a copy of their electronic I-94 record (or white I-94 card, if you have one).

  • If you are a citizen of Cuba, Iran, Sudan, or Syria, you are not eligible for automatic revalidation of your expired non-immigrant visa.
  • If you have applied for a new visa while out of the country, you may not re-enter the U.S. until the new visa is issued, even if your old visa is still valid.
  • Is in possession of an F student visa or J exchange visitor visa and has traveled to Cuba
  • Depending on your country of citizenship, you may be required to have an entry visa for Canada, Mexico or any of the other Caribbean nations in order to enter those countries. Your U.S. visa does not automatically grant entry into these other contiguous countries. 

You can find more information on Automatic Revalidation on the U.S. Department of State website.