Since the Twenty-First Century Act of 2000 (AC21) was passed by Congress, H1B visas can be extended beyond the six year maximum under Sections 106(a) and 104(c). Section 106(a) allows extensions of three-year increments beyond the six-year maximum if 365 days or more have passed since the labor certification was filed. Section 104(c) allows extensions in one-year increments beyond the six-year maximum in cases where there is an approved labor certification, and an approved I-140 petition, and the foreign national H1B worker's priority date is not yet current to allow the filing of an I-485 application for permanent residence.
Pay attention to time traveled abroad and time spent in other visa status
Extra time can be added to the six-year maximum limit, and push back the expiration date by recapturing time that was spent abroad. When an H1B worker departs from the United States, his or her time abroad is not counted toward the six-year limit. Moreover, the time spent in L2 or H4 status also does not count toward the six-year limit. However, time spent in H3 status does count.
Necessary calculations for determining AC21 eligibility for H1B extensions
It is critical to conduct a thorough review to determine whether an AC21 H1B extension is available. Such review should include a complete examination of approval notices, passport visas, all dates of entry and departure, and any changes of visa status. Any prior labor certification applications and I-140 immigrant petitions must be taken into account as well. Retaining a competent and professional immigration attorney with the experience to properly analyze such cases is invaluable.