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Travel outside the United States

If you travel outside the United States, you will need the following documents to re-enter the U.S.:

  • Valid passport
  • Original Form I-797A (H-1B approval notice for your current position)
  • Letter from your employer confirming current employment in the position described in the H-1B petition (sample letter) and a recent pay slip
  • Valid H-1B visa stamp in your passport (if you do not have a valid H-1B visa stamp in your passport, you must apply for one at a U.S. embassy or consulate abroad)

Note: If you have filed for adjustment of status and plan to travel, please contact an international scholar adviser to discuss traveling with your H-1B documentation or advance parole.

Travel to Canada or Mexico

If you travel to Canada or Mexico for less than 30 days, you will not need a new visa stamp to return to the United States. Citizens of many countries do not need a tourist visa to visit Canada or Mexico, but you should check with the appropriate embassy or consulate for your home country about whether you will need a visa to visit these countries.

Obtaining the initial H-1B stamp

If you have changed your nonimmigrant status while in the United States and have not obtained an H-1B visa stamp in your passport, you must make an appointment with a U.S. embassy or consulate the first time you depart the U.S. to obtain an H-1B visa for re-entry. You will need to present the following documentation:

  • Valid passport (valid for at least six months beyond the date of application)
  • Photograph (must meet Department of State requirements and should be uploaded with DS-160)
  • Form DS-160 confirmation page
  • Application fee
  • Original Form I-797A (H-1B approval notice for your current position)
  • Copy of Form 1-129 (petition for H1B submitted to USCIS on your behalf)
  • Letter from your department confirming employment and that you are expected to return to the U.S. to resume the terms of your contract (sample letter) and a recent pay slip
  • Original waiver of the two-year home residency requirement (if you were previously in J-1 status and received a waiver)

Contact the specific U.S. embassy or consulate where you plan to apply for other requirements, including photos and fees, and confirm application procedures prior to your trip. For information about visa processing time, see the Department of State website.

Visa revalidation

If you have an H-1B visa stamp and it has expired, you may obtain a new visa only in person at a U.S. embassy or consulate abroad. H-1B visa revalidation by mail is not possible.

Travel within the United States

H-1B scholars can travel freely within the United States. You should be sure to carry your passport and health insurance information with you when you travel.