Summer is here, and you probably have plans to travel, whether it’s to see family and friends or explore somewhere new. When you’re an employee with H-1 or L-1 status, you need to take extra steps to ensure you prepare appropriately so that you can enjoy a smooth trip.

For H-1B and L-1 employees traveling outside of the United States, here are some important reminders:

Check with Your Immigration Attorney

Before you leave, check with your immigration attorney. If they are handling any pending applications, ensure your departure will not cancel or negatively affect your application.

Prepare Your Documents to Get Your Visa Stamped

By itself, an H or L approval notice is not enough for you to re-enter the United States. You (as well as your spouse and children) will need to get a visa stamped in your home country’s US consulate before re-entering the US. Sometimes an application at the US consulate in Mexico or Canada is an option. However, check with an immigration attorney if you are interested in using a consulate, not in your home country.

The US consulate websites contain helpful information on scheduling the visa stamping appointment. Plan well ahead of busy summer and holiday seasons because consular appointments fill up quickly.

As an H-1B or L-1 employee, you should take the following items to your visa appointment:

  • Valid passport with at least 6 months validity remaining before expiration
  • Old passports (if available)
  • All US immigration visas and approval notices. Originals are preferred, although copies are acceptable.
  • Labor Condition Application (LCA) if you are an H-1B employee
  • Proof of continued employment with your H or L employer. We recommend you bring your last three pay stubs, most recent W-2, and an original, signed and recently-dated letter on employer letterhead verifying your current employment. The letter should include information, such as: “EMPLOYEE remains employed with COMPANY pursuant to their H-1/L-1 status.”
  • Original/certified copies of diplomas and transcripts (if available)
  • A copy of H or L package filed with United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (US CIS) (if available). Note that you can remove any confidential employer documents from the package.
  • Proof of your current project if you are a foreign national who works at a client site. For example, bring your end client letter, statement of work, or purchase order. You can use a black marker to redact any confidential information.
  • Any other documents listed on the consulate website’s instructions

If your family will be traveling with you, then your L-2 or H-4 dependent spouse and child(ren) should take these items with them to the visa appointment:

  • Valid passport with at least 6 months validity remaining before expiration
  • Old passports (if available)
  • All United States immigration visa copies and approval notice copies (original preferred)
  • All US immigration visas and approval notices. Originals are preferred, although copies are acceptable.
  • Marriage certificate (if applicable)
  • Birth certificate
  • Proof that you, the primary applicant, are still employed with your H or L employer. We recommend they bring your last three pay stubs.
  • Any other documents listed on the consulate website’s instructions

Always Have Your I-94

You (as well as your spouse and children) should view and print your I-94 after each entry into the United States. The I-94 validity – not the visa validity –  controls how long you can remain in the US after that entry.

Some countries, like Mexico, will limit your visa’s validity to one year even though your I-94 validity may be longer. Other times, an I-94 validity may be shortened because your passport will expire soon.

Finally, if the Customs & Border Patrol (CBP) makes an error on the I-94’s validity date, contact an immigration attorney immediately. They may be able to get it corrected through the CBP Deferred Inspection Office or provide other assistance.

Check with an Immigration Attorney

Get ready to enjoy a fun, relaxing summer vacation. Just be sure to plan ahead and take the necessary steps to make sure everything goes smoothly. If you have questions about traveling as an H-1B or L-1 employee or if you have any citations, arrests, US immigration visa refusals/denials, or other concerns, contact the Atlanta immigration attorneys at Antonini & Cohen. You can call us at 404-850-9394 or reach out online.

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