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Traveling Over the Summer? Here’s What You Need to Know

May 8, 2018

With the summer months just around the corner, many of us are planning our summer getaway. We here at EIG would like to ensure that you enjoy your trip and are well prepared for your return to the United States. Below are some frequently asked questions regarding international travel for foreign nationals in the United States. We encourage you to read through the below information prior to finalizing your summer travel.

I have an international trip coming up and I need a new visa stamp, what do I do?

Our office is happy to help you with your visa stamping process. We will prepare a visa package on your behalf and recommend that you provide the documents included in the package to the consulate at the time of your visa stamping. Please contact our office by emailing visapackage@eiglaw.com.  We ask that you contact our office at least 30 days prior to your trip so we may prepare the visa package in time for your trip. If you are not visiting your home country, please contact us prior to booking your visa appointment so we may ensure that the designated consulate will accept third-country nationals.

I have a valid visa stamp but it’s for a former employer, do I still need to obtain a new visa stamp?

Though you might assume your visa stamp must reflect your current employer, this is not the case. You may use your visa stamp if it is: 1) issued for your current visa category (i.e. H-1B); and 2) valid the day you return to the United States.  Please make sure to bring the following documents along with you for re-entry:

  • valid passport
  • valid visa stamp
  • current and original approved I-797
  • several recent pay stubs
  • an employment verification letter

Dependents should also bring:

  • copy of their marriage certificate (spouse) or birth certificate (child)

Can I travel this summer if my H-1B petition was submitted for the Cap?

Travel while your H-1B Cap petition is pending is dependent upon the specifics of your filing. Generally those with H-1B Cap petitions filed via consular processing are not subject to travel restrictions, whereas those filed with change of status are. We highly recommend that you connect with your EIG attorney before you finalize travel plans to avoid any future complications with your pending H-1B or employment authorization.

I’m a Canadian Citizen. Do I need a visa stamp to enter the US?

For the most part, Canadians do not require a visa stamp to enter the United States. They do however require authorization issued either by USCIS, a United States consulate, or CBP. You may visit this website to see which visa categories require a visa stamp for Canadians. You may also contact the attorney who assisted you in the visa application process to confirm whether you will need a visa stamp in your passport prior to entry.

I hold a valid EAD/AP. Can I use this to enter the United States?

Yes, you may use your valid EAD/AP to enter the United States. Please keep in mind that once you have used the EAD/AP to enter the United States, it is best to continue using the EAD/AP for future travel to avoid being placed into lengthy secondary inspections with CBP. Additionally, please be mindful of the EAD/AP renewal process. If you have any international travel planned while your EAD/AP is pending with USCIS, your AP will be denied, and you will need to re-apply.

I’m traveling to Mexico/Canada, but I do not have a valid visa stamp. Do I need to visit the consulate for a new visa stamp?

You will not need a new visa stamp to visit Canada or Mexico if you qualify for automatic revalidation. Automatic revalidation is a visa renewal process available to certain foreign nationals who meet the below criteria. Please note that no new visa is issued through automatic revalidation, but rather an expired visa is used for readmission into the United States. Currently, citizens of Syria, Sudan, Iran, and Cuba do not qualify for automatic revalidation.

Automatic revalidation is possible if you:

  • have an expired US visa stamp in your passport;
  • hold a valid I-94 and non-immigrant status; and
  • will only visit Canada or Mexico for a period of 30 days or less.

When utilizing automatic revalidation you should present the following documents to CBP:

  • valid passport;
  • expired visa stamp
  • original I-797 approval notice reflecting your current non-immigrant status and attached I-94;
  • employment verification letter;
  • several recent paystubs; and
  • travel itinerary documenting a visit of less than 30 days.

I successfully re-entered the United States. Is there anything I need to do now?

Yes. Please remember to provide our office with a copy of your new I-94, the entry stamp in your passport, and your new visa stamp (if applicable) after you return to the United States. You can obtain your most recent I-94 record at https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov/I94/request.html. Please also include copies of the same documentation for any accompanying dependents. The expiration date on your most recent I-94 record indicates the length of your lawful admission to the US. It is your responsibility to print out and review the I-94 records for yourself and any dependents after each entry into the US and to provide copies to our office.