The H-1B visa is initially valid for a period of three years and can be extended for an additional three years thereafter. To be granted an extension, the United States employer must file a new Form I-129 and pay the relevant filing fees. Fortunately, the annual cap on H-1B visas does not come into play in these cases. Extensions are already accounted for in the annual cap. This means that there is no need to register in the H-1B visa lottery again to obtain an extension of this visa.
Generally, an H-1B employee is allowed to remain in the United States for a cumulative maximum of 6 years. Once the 6-year maximum has been met, the employee must exit the United States and remain abroad for one uninterrupted year before they may apply for a new H-1B visa. Once the one-year requirement has been met, the employee and their employer may reapply for the H-1B visa. To reapply, the employee must register for the H-1B visa lottery again.
Under circumstances, H-1B status can be extended beyond the 6-year limit. According to Sections 104 and 106 of the American Competitiveness in the 21st Century Act, one may obtain an extension past the 6-year limitation in the following cases:
- One year (or more) has passed since any Labor Certification has been filed to secure status for the employee, or;
- One year (or more) has passed since the filing of the I-140 immigrant petition, or;
- The employee has had their immigration petition approved but cannot file to adjust their status to permanent residence due to the unavailability of green cards.
The rules and regulations surrounding H-1B visa extensions are complex and it can be helpful to speak with an experienced immigration attorney at Alcorn Immigration Law to ensure that you remain in good legal standing during this process.
What Is the 240-Day Rule?
Individuals who qualify for an extension under these provisions may also benefit from the 240-day rule. As long as the employer files a new petition for the extension of your H-1B visa, the employee may continue to work for an additional 240 days beyond their current visa status. This is referred to as the 240-day rule. Their continued employment is still governed by the same limitations on their original H-1B visa and only comes into play when their extension application is pending. It is important to note that international travel is not advised when the 240-day rule is in effect. Traveling abroad may force the employee to remain outside of the United States until the extension has been approved.
Can I Transition from an H-1B Visa to a Green Card?
Yes, it is possible to transition from an H-1B visa to a green card in certain circumstances. While the majority of temporary, nonimmigrant visas do not provide a path to permanent residence in the United States. The H-1B visa, on the other hand, is considered a “dual intent” visa. This means that foreign professionals who hold an H-1B visa may be temporarily present in the United States with the intent of becoming permanent residents down the line. This is a major advantage of the H-1B visa and allows a valuable opportunity for H-1B visa holders and their families to obtain a green card in the United States.
H-1B visa holders typically apply for an employment-based green card. There is an extensive application process to change an individual’s visa status from H-1B to a green card. Depending on the green card category that they are applying for, the applicant may need an employer to sponsor their petition. Their United States employer will file a Form I-140 petition on their behalf, as well as a PERM Labor Certification. Once the petition has been approved, the applicant may then file Form I-485, Application for Adjustment of Status. If the process is successful, the applicant and their family may live and work in the United States on a permanent basis.
Consider Contacting Alcorn Immigration Law Today
At Alcorn Immigration Law, we work closely with startups, companies, H-1B visa holders, and their families to extend their visa status and transition from the H-1B visa to a green card. Through our proven approach, we have helped numerous individuals and their employers navigate the United States immigration system as efficiently and expeditiously as possible. With offices in Mountain View, CA, and New York, NY we have the experience, resources, and connections necessary to achieve successful results for your case. To learn more about how we can help, consider connecting with an experienced H-1B visa attorney at +1(855) 546-0015 today.