Maintaining H-1B Compliance

H-1B duration
H-1B extensions
Changes to H-1B employment
Travel abroad & reentry to the U.S.
Reporting new home addresses to USCIS
Dual intent


H-1B duration

An initial period of up to three years of H-1B status can be granted by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) through a UH-filed petition. Subsequent H-1B extensions can be requested thereafter via the same means. Generally, an individual may not spend more than six years in H-1B status in the U.S., but UH can file H-1B extensions for periods beyond six years if at least 365 days have passed since a permanent labor certification application or an I-140 petition was filed on the employee’s behalf or if the employee has I-140 petition approval but cannot file an I-485 adjustment of status application because the priority date is not yet current.

An employee who reaches the end of the six-year maximum in H-1B status and is not eligible for further extensions must depart the U.S. by the last day of H-1B authorization if there is no legal way to remain in the U.S. There is no grace period. In order to begin a new six-year H-1B period, the individual must remain outside the U.S. for at least 12 months.

Period of authorized stay

It is extremely important to be aware of the period of authorized stay on the employee’s I-94 record or admission stamp, as applicable. If the I-94/admission stamp expiration date will occur before the employee resigns or the H-1B authorization expires and UH has not filed an H-1B extension petition with USCIS, the worker’s legal status may end on the I-94/admission stamp date. As a result, the person must leave the U.S. on or before this date to avoid accruing unlawful presence.

Departments should notify FSIS before an employee ends H-1B employment at UH.

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H-1B extensions

The UH sponsoring unit must submit an H-1B extension request packet to FSIS no later than two months prior to the requested H-1B start date, which must be back-to-back with the current H-1B expiration date. The current H-1B end date will be stated on the worker’s I-94 or H-1B approval notice, as applicable. Submission of a late request may result in an H-1B beneficiary’s inability to start working on time or even the loss of legal status in the U.S.

Follow these procedures to extend H-1B authorization:

1 The department prepares an H-1B request.
2 FSIS processes the request and sends the completed petition to the unit’s HR specialist. Please note:

  • UH can request up to three years on H-1B extension petitions.
  • UH can submit a petition to USCIS up to six months prior to the H-1B extension start date.
  • Consult with FSIS if the employee is planning to travel abroad while an H-1B petition is pending.
  • The department should ask the H-1B beneficiary about any family members who may require an H-4 change of status or extension. If so, include the family’s documents in the H-1B request packet.
3 FSIS emails the H-1B petition filing fee amounts and USCIS mailing address options to the HR specialist. The college/school/department (as appropriate) should request the filing fee checks, indicating that the checks be returned to the unit. The unit should then hand-deliver the checks and one of the following types of mailing labels to FSIS as soon as possible:

  • Pre-paid FedEx mailing label;
  • Pre-paid USPS Priority Mail mailing label; or
  • Two mail bar code labels for mailing by USPS Certified Mail (Manoa units only).
4 FSIS mails the petition with the filing fees to USCIS.
5 USCIS reviews the petition and renders a decision. If approved, USCIS will issue a Form I-797A or I-797B approval notice.

  • If I-797A: Employment can continue uninterrupted.
  • If I-797B: The worker must follow the H-1B entry procedures to “activate” the authorization.

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Changes to H-1B employment

H-1B work authorization is specific to the employer that filed the labor condition application (LCA) and petition and covers only the particular position for which the LCA and petition were filed. This means another employer cannot hire an H-1B worker using a UH-filed petition approval, It also means UH must report substantial changes to an H-1B employee’s job via an amended petition filed with USCIS before the changes become effective.

Some of the most common changes UH must report include:

  • Appointment to a position with a new title (e.g. Junior Researcher to Assistant Researcher);
  • Moving to or adding a new work site; or
  • Significant changes to duties, such as taking on teaching.

If it is unclear whether a petition is required to report the changes to employment, contact an Immigration Specialist to discuss the issues before submitting a new H-1B request. However, if it is clear that the new employment terms must be reported to USCIS, the UH sponsoring unit should submit an H-1B request packet to FSIS no later than two months prior to the effective date of the change(s). Follow these procedures before making substantial changes to H-1B employment:

1 The department prepares an H-1B request.
2 FSIS processes the request and sends the completed petition to the unit’s HR specialist. Please note:

  • When reporting a change to employment, UH may request an extension of up to three years at the same time.
  • UH can submit a petition to USCIS up to six months prior to the H-1B extension start date.
  • Consult with FSIS if the employee is planning to travel abroad while an H-1B petition is pending.
  • The department should ask the H-1B beneficiary about any family members who may require an H-4 change of status or extension. If so, include the family’s documents in the H-1B request packet.
3 FSIS emails the H-1B petition filing fee amounts and USCIS mailing address options to the HR specialist. The college/school/department (as appropriate) should request the filing fee checks, indicating that the checks be returned to the unit. The unit should then hand-deliver the checks and one of the following types of mailing labels to FSIS as soon as possible:

  • Pre-paid FedEx mailing label;
  • Pre-paid USPS Priority Mail mailing label; or
  • Two mail bar code labels for mailing by USPS Certified Mail (Manoa units only).
4 FSIS mails the petition with the filing fees to USCIS.
5 USCIS reviews the petition and renders a decision. If approved, USCIS will issue a Form I-797A or I-797B approval notice.

  • If I-797A: Employment can continue uninterrupted.
  • If I-797B: The worker must follow the H-1B entry procedures to “activate” the authorization.

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Travel abroad and reentry to the U.S.

If an H-1B employee is planning to travel abroad, UH departments should issue an employment confirmation letter to facilitate reentry to the U.S. To return to the U.S., the worker should follow all H-1B entry procedures and sends copies of reentry documents to an Immigration Specialist. If any H-4 dependents travel to other countries, they should follow the H-4 entry procedures.

If an employee or dependent is only planning to visit Canada or Mexico for less than 30 days, automatic visa revalidation may be an option for reentry to the U.S.

Traveling abroad while an H-1B petition is pending with USCIS

The H-1B worker must be physically in the U.S. at the time a petition is filed. After filing, it is not advisable for H-1B employees to travel abroad while the petition is pending. If a worker knows they will need to travel abroad around the time H-1B authorization will expire or be amended, the department should consult with an Immigration Specialist so we can advise on the filing options.

If international travel plans arise at the last minute and the employee cannot avoid traveling while the petition is pending with USCIS, please note the following:

Petition type International travel
Change of H-1B employer If still employed by prior employer, may reenter using that employer’s approval notice and other documents. If prior employment has ended, employee must wait for UH’s petition to be approved and then may reenter with UH approval notice and other documents  — see the H-1B entry process for more details.
Concurrent H-1B employment If petition is still pending on reentry date, may reenter with other employer’s approval notice; upon petition approval or under H-1B portability rule, UH employment should be authorized automatically. If petition has been approved, must reenter with approval notices and other documents for all employers, including UH — see the H-1B entry process for more details.
H-1B amendment If petition is still pending on reentry date, may reenter with prior unexpired UH approval notice and other documents. If petition has been approved, may reenter with amendment approval notice and other documents to begin amended employment — see the H-1B entry process for more details.
H-1B change of status If petition is still pending on reentry date, change of status will be abandoned; if the worker reenters in prior immigration status, they must depart the U.S., wait for the petition to be approved, and then go through the H-1B entry process to begin H-1B employment. If petition has been approved, must use petition approval and other documents to begin H-1B employment — see the H-1B entry process for more details.
H-1B extension If petition is still pending on reentry date, may reenter with prior unexpired UH approval notice and other documents. If documents have expired or if the petition has been approved, may reenter with extension approval notice (if received) and other documents to continue employment — see the H-1B entry process for more details.

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Reporting new home addresses to USCIS

H-1B employees and their H-4 dependents are required to report all changes of residential address to USCIS within 10 days of moving. The easiest way to report any changes is through USCIS’s online change of address form. If an application is pending at a USCIS Service Center, they should also contact the USCIS National Customer Service Center (toll-free number: 1-800-375-5283) to report the change.

Please also email the new address to an Immigration Specialist so we can update our records.

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Dual intent

H-1B workers may have dual intent when applying for a visa or admission into the U.S. Unlike other nonimmigrant classifications (e.g. F-1, J-1), the filing of an immigrant petition or permanent labor certification application on the person’s behalf should not serve as the sole reason for a denial of an H-1B visa or entry to the U.S.

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