In this article, we have discussed:
The H1B visa is a non-immigrant visa with a six-year validity period, of which H1B holders must apply for an extension after the initial three-year validity. However, after six years, H1B holders are expected to reside outside the USA for an entire year before applying for a fresh H1B visa to return to the country.
H1B holders who have already been through the visa gauntlet are well-aware of the rigors of the H1B visa process. They have to find a US-based employer willing to sponsor their visa, submit the visa petition, wait for their luck to favour them in the H1B lottery, attend the interview, and finally obtain the visa. It is a long, nerve-wracking, and tedious process, making the H1B visa extremely valuable.
It also explains why H1B holders wisely decide to look for an H1B extension after the first three years, apply for a green card and look for options to stay in the US beyond the stipulated six years. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), which oversees the H1B process, grants extensions beyond six years.
However, certain rules govern the H1B extension. If you are an H1B holder hoping to live and continue working in the USA, you must know what these rules are. Let's unpack the details.
Before you read the eligibility criteria and visa extension rules, check out the H1B Visa Extension Process.
The original H1B visa lasts for 3 years. Most H1B holders who wish to remain in the US apply for an extension for an another three years. After these six years, some of them may leave the country for their homelands or other nations. However, if you wish to continue staying in the US after six years, you must fulfill some criteria. You must:
Apart from these requirements, several rules govern the possibility of extending your six-year stay in the US. It is important to know each rule and how it impacts your circumstances of staying in the US.
Also Read: All You Need to Know About H4 Visa Extension
The Federal Register published the Final Rule in January 2017 that impacted many working visas, including the H-1B. According to the rule, H1B sponsoring employers must file I-140 petitions when requesting for the employment-based green card on behalf of their foreign employees. The rule also states that:
The H1B grace period is a provision given by the Federal Register for H1B holders if you face an unexpected termination of employment. The grace period gives you time to find an alternative job. There are two types of H1B grace period.
The 10-day grace gives you time to sort your affairs, get them in order, and prepare to leave the US. Under this period, you shall be admitted to the US until the visa is valid. You are also granted an additional ten days before the validity period and ten days after the period ends. As a beneficiary of this 10-day grace period, you are not allowed to work except during the visa validation duration.
The final rule provides visa holders with a 60-day grace period following their end of the employment. During the grace period, the visa holder will not be considered "out of status" for almost two months following their unemployment. In this situation, the H1B holder has the opportunity to look for other employment or apply for a visa change of status.
AC 21 stands for American Competitiveness in the Twenty-First Century Act (AC 21). Under the AC21 rule for H1B extension:
H1B holders can use the AC21 any number of times to extend the visa. However, there are some contingencies:
Your visa validity period still applies if you have reached the six-year limit on your H-1B visa and applied for an extension through an approved I-140. Therefore, the H1B 240-Day Rule allows an H-1B holder with a pending extension to continue working if:
Why is it called the 240-Day Rule? H1B holders who fulfill the above-mentioned conditions can remain in the US under their current employers for 240 days. If the petition is approved during this time, the 240-day period ends, and the H1B extension period begins. However, in some cases, the USCIS may deny the extension petition. If this happens, the 240-day period will be immediately terminated. You will not be permitted to work anymore on US soil and will have to leave the country.
Every H1B extension rule is different, and so are the criteria and conditions for each one. Understanding how you can benefit from each rule can be quite overwhelming. We urge you to check our TechFetch H1B and gain clear insights into how to implement these rules to obtain an H1B extension.
Disclaimer: All H1B visa processing details are subject to change. Please rerefer the USCIS official website for the latest updated information.