H1B Portability & International Travel Issues

254399_travelling_with_suitcase.jpgThe H1B portability provisions allow foreign nationals to travel abroad while in between employers so long as the H1B petition with their previous employer is still valid, and they can reenter under another valid status. Let’s say you have an H1B visa status to work for Company A. Then while your H1B status is still valid, your employment with Company A ends, and then you leave the United States. You return to the United States a few months later on a B2 visitor visa. While you are in the United States, you want to begin employment with Company B. How soon can you begin working?

You can port even when you are not in H1B status. If your H1B visa for Company A is still valid, once Company B files an H1B petition on your behalf, you can begin working for the company immediately under the H1B portability provisions. You can still take advantage of portability even if you are not in H1B status, so long as you are in the United States in an authorized period of stay. You do not have to be in H1B status, you have to have a valid H1B petition.

What documents are needed for international travel while porting? If you have ported to new employment with a pending H1B petition, and you have a valid H1B visa stamp, and you have the I-797 receipt notice for that pending petition, you can use these documents to travel internationally. If your visa stamp still has the name of your previous employer, you may get a new visa stamp at the consulate abroad if you like. However, this is not required because your I-797 receipt notice is evidence of your new employer. When you return to the United States, be sure to check your I-94 form before leaving the immigration inspection area to make sure that the name of your new employer is printed on the back of the I-94 to make sure you are properly admitted to work.