The United States of America is one of the best places in the world to live and work in. You have already spent several fruitful years in this land of opportunity and you would like to spend many more years living and working here.
As an H-1B visa holder, the first and most important thing to note about your H-1B visa renewal is that current immigration law mandates an upper limit of 6 years to its validity. Once this period expires, you have to leave the U.S or look for other options.
Lets take a look at all the options available to you when faced with the 6-year cap.
Option 1: Leave the U.S, return after a year
This is the default option. Once your 6-year cap is hit, you will have to leave the country, and wait for a year for the H-1B clock to reset, and then return by filing for a fresh H-1B visa. Note that the law stipulates explicitly, that you need to stay outside of the U.S for a year before you can return on a new H-1B. Thus, transferring your H-1B visa to another type, say a tourist visa or a H4 visa dependent on your spouse’s H-1B for a year, will not count towards this 1 year hiatus mandated before a new H-1B visa can be applied for.
Option 2: Recapture time spent on holidays outside the U.S
If you stayed outside of the U.S for some time during your 6-year H-1B tenure, say on maternity or paternity visits or an extended holiday, you can claim this time spent outside of the U.S towards your 6-year cap.
Option 3: File a PERM petition or I-140 petition
This option is available to you only if you are applying a year, that is, at least 365 days before the expiry of your H-1B visa. Program Electronic Review Management process (PERM) is the procedure to obtain a labor certification for foreign nationals. This has to be filed by your employer as your sponsor. It must then be followed by an I-140 petition also to be filed by your employer for your permanent employment in the U.S.
If the PERM and I-140 petitions have not been denied, and are being processed by the USCIS, you can extend your H-1B visa for a year after 6-year cap expires. There is no limit to how many times this can be done, so long as your PERM or I-140 application is being processed.
Option 4: If you have an approved I-140, extend by 3 years
If the I-140 application that your employer filed on your behalf, as described above is approved, you can renew your visa by a period of 3 years, even if your immigrant visa number is not yet available.
Do you know of any other option? Please share with our readers.