How to Extend H1B Visa after 3 Years?
The H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows business professionals to work in the U. S. It’s an employment-based visa category issued for specialty occupation and the number of the visa is limited, with total of 85,000 visas available each year. Initially, H1B visa status can be granted for up to three years. Time goes by quickly, so if you an H1-B visa holder and you want to continue to work and live in the U.S., don’t forget to extend your visa for another three more years. Let’s take a look how you can do it.
When you entered the U.S., the USCIS office issued you a Form I-94 in your passport. If you carefully look into this form, you can find there duration of your valid status in the U.S. This is the date by which you can remain in the U.S., assuming you are in the same job or its category. Your employer can file the petition to renew your status six months before its expiration and your visa may be extended if it has a remaining validity of not more than sixty days, or has not been expired for more than one year. But rather than wait until the last minute, the better option is to submit the extension request as early as possible.
Documents that are needed for H-1B visa extension:
1. Passport – it has to be valid for at least six month and has to contain your existing visa
2. Form I-94 – as we mentioned, it should be stapled in your passport and annotated by the USCIS inspector when you were last admitted to the USA
3. Form I-797 - employment petition which was issued by the USCIS and which indicates your current employer and the approved extension of your stay in the U.S.
4. Comprehensive letter from your employer – it should describe in detail the nature and duties of your position, the company you work for and its business standing and markets to justify the need for the visa extension. The letter should be submitted on your employers letterhead and should be signed by the company representative
5. Nonimmigrant visa application form OF-156 with one passport-size photograph
6. Receipt of the fee payment
As long as your employer files the petition with all mentioned documents before your current status expires, you may remain in the U.S. while the extension is pending. It’s good to know that your work authorization also continues for up to 240 days, or until USCIS approves or denies the extension.
Don’t forget that if you are traveling outside the U.S., you have to be careful even when your visa has been extended. To re-enter the U.S. you need a stamp in your passport which authorizes you to come back. Be aware that it is not possible to obtain visa stamp within the USA. We will discuss stamping and re-stamping of H-1B visa in more detail in our next blog, so stay tuned!
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