Validity of H1B Visa “Stamp” Following a Change of Employer21 Feb 2019
In order to enter the United States in H1B status, a foreign national typically must first obtain an H1B visa foil (commonly referred to as a visa “stamp”) from a U.S. consulate or embassy. This visa stamp generally will be annotated with the name of the petitioning U.S. employer listed on the approved I-797 notice that was used to apply for the visa. This naturally leads many H1B workers to conclude that a new visa is required following a change of employer. In reality, however, as long as the H1B visa stamp is facially valid (i.e., not yet expired), it ordinarily may continue to be used following a move to a new H1B employer.
Visa Stamp Remains Valid After a Change of Employer
An H1B visa stamp in one’s passport generally remains valid through the expiration date listed on the document. Although the stamp includes the name of the employer, it is not employer-specific and the stamp may be used for any H1B travel during its period of validity. However, the H1B worker will need to affirmatively present his/her original I-797 approval notice from the new employer at the port of entry when s/he reenters the United States. This ensures that the I-94 Arrival and Departure Record will properly reflect the end date of the new employer’s H1B petition. Similarly, the validity of a dependent’s H-4 visa stamp is not impacted by a change of employer by the H1B principal worker, but the dependent should present the new H1B approval notice to ensure that he/she is admitted for the proper length of time.
Rule Does Not Apply if Visa Otherwise Revoked
The continued validity of one’s visa, of course, does not apply if the visa was otherwise revoked. While the visa cannot be revoked by an employer or former employer, there are certain situations – unrelated to a change of employer – in which a visa may be revoked, either proactively by a government official, or as a matter of law. For instance, as explained in the MurthyDotCom NewsBrief, Drunk Driving Arrests Result in Visa Revocations (16.Feb.2016), a foreign national who has been arrested in the United States for drunk driving may be quickly notified that his/her visa has been revoked by the consulate. And, the NewsBrief Differences Between: Lawful Status, Period of Authorized Stay, & Unlawful Presence (10.Nov.2016) explains one way in which a visa stamp may be revoked automatically as a matter of law.
The need to obtain a new visa stamp from a U.S. consular post abroad in order to travel can be a real inconvenience. It therefore is helpful to recognize situations in which such an application is not necessary to help busy professionals travel and reenter the United States in H1B status.
While some aspects of immigration have changed in significant ways in the years since MurthyDotCom began publishing articles in 1994, there is much that is still the same. From time to time, clients of the Murthy Law Firm are referred to articles, like this one, which remains relevant and has been updated for our readers.
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