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H-1B Portability & International Travel Issues

If you are in the United States on an H1B visa, and you are no longer employed by the company listed on your H1B visa, how can you travel abroad and return to the United States? You can take advantage of the H1B portability provisions to travel abroad while you're in between employers provided that your H1B petition is still valid, and you can reenter the United States with a different valid visa, such as a B2 visitor visa.

How can I port to new H1B employment when I am in B2 visitor visa status?

You need a valid H1B petition to port to new employment, not H1B status. For example, suppose you work for Company A pursuant to a valid H1B petition, and then your employment ends. You can depart from the United States and return later on a B2 visitor visa. Once you are back in the United States, you can begin employment with Company B under the H1B portability provisions provided that the necessary conditions are met.

What are the conditions necessary for H1B portability?

The H1B portability provisions still apply even if you are no longer in H1B status. In order to immediately begin work for Company B, all you need are three things: You need a valid H1B approved petition from Company A, you need a pending H1B filed by Company B, and you need to be in the United States in a valid status. If you remained in the United States since the termination of your previous employment with Company A, you are still in valid H1B status when you port to Company B. If you leave the United States after the termination of your employment with Company A, your H1B visa would no longer be valid, but you can reenter with in valid B2 visitor status.

What documents are needed for international travel while porting?

Once you have ported to your new company, and your new H1B petition is still pending, you can travel internationally before the petition is approved, so long as you have an I-797 receipt notice for the I-129 petition filed by your new company, and you also have a valid H1B visa stamp in your passport for your previous company. You may apply for a new visa stamp in your passport to reflect the name of your new company, but it is not required.

What about my I-94?

Upon returning to the United States, when you are issued a new I-94 form at the immigration station, you should verify that the back of the I-94 form reflects the name of your new employer. It is important to do this before leaving the inspection station so that you can be sure that you are admitted properly into United States to work for your new employer. If you have questions about H1B portability issues, please contact our immigration attorneys or call The Law Firm of Shihab & Associates, Co., LPA at the nearest office close to you to consult with an attorney.

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