A UMMC H-1B employee who plans to leave the Unites States and reenter later must have in his/her possession: (a) a valid Form I-797 approval notice, (b) a valid passport, and (c) a valid H-1B visa stamp in their passport.
Although a UMMC employee who has changed to an H-1B classification while in the U.S. is considered to be in H-1B status, the visa stamp in his/her passport is based upon the employee’s prior status. If the employee leaves the U.S. for travel, in order to be readmitted in H-1B status, he/she must apply for an H-1B visa stamp at a U.S. consulate or embassy. Ideally, the employee will obtain the H-1B visa at an embassy/consulate in the home country where the initial visa was issued; however, it is possible to obtain the visa at a U.S. embassy/consulate other than the home country. The employee should be aware that there are risks associated with applying for a visa somewhere other than the home country.
H-1B employees who travel outside of the United States and have an expired H-1B visa stamp in their passport must obtain a new H-1B visa stamp at a U.S. consulate/embassy before they will be allowed to re-enter the United States in H-1B status. However, USCIS does allow an exception to this regulation for individuals who travel to Canada, Mexico or islands that are adjacent to the United States (Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Bermuda, Bahamas, etc.) for a period of 30 days or less. Individuals who have an expired visa stamp and travel to these specific countries or locations are allowed to re-enter the United States without having to obtain a new visa stamp. This is referred to as “automatic visa revalidation” and is restricted to visits to these specific locations.
It is imperative that UMMC employees and sponsors understand how travel outside of the U.S. affects a pending change of status to H-1B or a pending extension of H-1B authorization. H-1B employees should always consult with the OIS before traveling.