Maintaining H Non-Immigrant Class
Required Activities for Maintaining Status
H-1B workers must work only for the employer that filed the H-1B petition, and may engage only in the work specified and described in the appointment letter and in the H-1B petition. See the section on “H Nonimmigrant Class – Employment Authorization” for more details.
H-4 dependent spouse or child is in status only while the H-1B is in status. The H-4 dependents cannot remain in the U.S. if the H-1 principal leaves the U.S. for an extended period of time. For more information, please see our 30-day Absence From the United States page.
H-1B workers may enter the U.S. no earlier than 10 days before the start date listed on the I-797 Approval Notice. They cannot work prior to the start date listed on the I-797. If filing an application for extension of stay, the petition must be at DHS before the expiration date on the I-94 card and may be filed up to 6 months before the expiration date on the I-94. The DVS will contact your department 6 months before your current stay expires to determine if the department wants to extend your employment. Please note that H-1B temporary workers can remain in this immigration class not more than six (6) years. H-1B extensions are given in increments of 3 years or fewer.
H-4 dependent extensions are generally filed at the same time as the H-1B extension.
H-1B workers are authorized only for the employment described in the H-1B petition (e.g., title, hours, work site, duties, and so on). Employment authorization terminates on the earliest of the following dates:
- The ending date of authorized stay noted on the I-94.
- The ending date on the I-797 Approval Notice.
- The actual date that employment ends.
- Whenever there is a substantive change in the employment (title, hours, etc. see above).
If the H-1B employment ends, the H-1B status ends. There is no “grace period” to remain in the U.S. after the ending date of employment.
The H-1B may work only for the employer that filed the H petition. Please note the following variations and the actions required.
- If the H-1B wishes to do collaborative work for multiple employers, each employer must file a separate petition for that specific work before the work begins. This is called a concurrent H-1B.
- If the employer/employee relationship ends, then the H-1B immigration class based on the specific job ends, and the H-1B worker must leave the U.S. or have another H-1B petition filed for new employment. If the worker is seeking transfer to or addition of a new employer or new job, then the new employer must file the new H-1B petition before the current employment ends. In general, the H-1B does not permit a gap in H-1B status.
- If there are substantive changes in the employment (new title or position, new department, new kind of work, etc.), then the H-1B employer must file a new H-1B petition for the new work before that work begins.
H-1B workers must file to extend their H-1B status before the current work permission ends in order to maintain status and continue uninterrupted work. Persons remaining in the U.S. may extend their stay at the same time that they extend their H-1B work petitions. The H-1B extension is generally granted in increments of no more than three years. It can be granted in shorter increments. Sometimes the extension of stay is limited by the expiration date of the passport. Those traveling outside the U.S. sometimes extend their stay by using the new extended H-1B work approval to enter the U.S. In some cases those traveling abroad may need to visit a consulate to get a new visa stamp before entering the U.S.
H-4 dependents are not permitted to work. An H-4, however, may qualify for a separate, independent immigration class that does permit work. Examples include the F-1, H-1B, J-1, O-1, or TN. An H-4 dependent who works has violated status even though the H-1B still may be in status.