Travel outside of US with H4 or H4 EAD Pending Information

Travel out of US with H4 Extension, COS or H4 EAD Pending – Options?

In H4 Visa by KumarUpdated : 162 Comments

Since the introduction of New I-539 form, Biometrics Process by USCIS, earlier this year, it has been a long wait for many of the H4 visa holders, who are waiting for their H4 extensions and H4 EAD approvals. Previously, when H4 extensions and H4 EAD were filed along with H1B petition in premium processing, as a courtesy USCIS was giving approvals of H4 and H4 EAD along with H1B within 15 days, but this has changed with the new biometric process. Many of our users shared their experiences of H4 Extensions, with EAD and Biometrics Processing, where they are waiting for over a month since their biometrics for the approvals.  Some of them have planned travels and not sure, how the whole thing would pan out. In this article, we will review various scenarios and options tied to travel with H4 Extension, H4 Change of Status (COS) or H4 EAD pending.

Travel is something that can be inevitable at times and first thing we need to understand is, can you travel out of US, if so, what are the consequences. Sometimes you may have travel after applying H4 Extensions or COS, sometimes you may have to travel after applying for H4 EAD only. Let’s look at all of the combinations.

Can you Travel out of US, when your H4 Change of Status (COS) is pending?

Yes, you can travel out of US, when your H4 Change of Status is pending. But, the most important thing to understand is that your H4 COS application filed with USCIS using Form I-539 would be considered abandoned and subsequently denied, if you leave US when it is pending.

Can you Travel out of US, when your H4 Extension is pending? I-94 Mismatch.

Yes, you can travel out of US, when your H4 Extension is pending. There is no official reference given by USCIS on how they will handle extension petitions with travel, but based on experiences shared by users, H4 Extension have not been abandoned and continued to be processed. The key thing is, when you re-enter US and go through Port of Entry Procedures the CBP officer will give you new I-94 and that number would be different from the H4 extension that you received with USCIS. You may have issues with the I-94 mismatch at DMV when trying to renew license or other things as it uses SAVE Database. You will be considered in status and everything will be fine, but the only issue is with I-94 mismatch. You may need to travel again and re-enter to fix this issue. We had few users report that their H4 was processed even though they left the country and it was adjudicated, but the I-94 number was different.

I am on H4 Status in US and filed H4 EAD only. Can I travel out of US, when my H4 EAD filed with form I-765 is pending?

Yes, you can travel out of US with your H4 EAD in pending status, provided you meet all the H4 visa requirements to re-enter US.  But, traveling outside of US may delay your H4 EAD processing…Let’s say, if USCIS requests for more information regarding your EAD application and issues an RFE or a Notice of Intent to Deny(NOID) and if you do not respond on time for RFE or NOID with the required information requested by USCIS, they may deny your H4 EAD by considering that it is abandoned.  Check below screenshot from USCIS website regarding the same.

Travel with H4 EAD Pending

Can I travel outside of US when H4 Change of Status (COS) filed along with H4 EAD is pending with USCIS? ( H4 COS + H4 EAD )

Yes, you can still travel out of US, but your H4 Change of Status will be considered abandoned and subsequently denied. As your H4 COS is denied, your H4 EAD application will also be denied.    Check below exact official text from USCIS website.

H4 Extension or COS Filed with H4 EAD Pending with US Travel outside of US

Can I travel outside of US when H4 Extension filed along with H4 EAD is pending with USCIS? ( H4 Extension + H4 EAD )

Yes, you can travel out of US, but the only issue is with the I-94 number mismatch. There is no official reference to this, but based on users’ experiences, we had few users report that their H4 extension was continued with processing and also their H4 EAD was also processed and it was delivered to them, when they were back in US. But, the issue was with the I-94 number mismatch. As mentioned above, when you re-enter US and go through Port of Entry Procedures the CBP officer will give you new I-94 and that number would be different from the H4 extension that you received with USCIS. You may have issues with the I-94 mismatch at DMV when trying to renew license or other things as it uses SAVE Database. You will be considered in status and everything will be fine, but the only issue is with I-94 mismatch and you may need to do another trip to fix the issue

Travel with H4 COS + H4 EAD pending with USCIS, but re-entered US on H4, will my EAD application be approved ?  

Also, let’s say you file for H4 COS + H4 EAD together, but you exited before the approval from USCIS and re-entered US on H4. In such cases, even you are on H4 status after you entered US, USCIS will deny your H4 EAD application that was filed before as it was filed by you with a different I-94 and in different status ( see below screenshot). You need to re-file form I-765 for your H4 EAD with USCIS.  Also, you should withdraw your previously filed H4 EAD application with USCIS, if that is pending when you file your New H4 EAD application  

Applied COS - exit and re-entry on H4 - EAD Application Denied Info

USCIS Recommendation when you Travel out of US with H4 Extension or COS pending with them

If you travel out of US with your H4 Extension/ COS, which is filed using Form I-539, pending with USCIS, they recommend that you keep a copy the extension or COS application and the copy of receipt notice to be showed to the immigration inspector, when you go arrive in US and go through Port of Entry Procedures to ensure that you did not overstay. Also, I suggest you check, and print copy of the I-94 online , US Travel History during your exit and have it handy a additional proof. Below is screenshot from USCIS website on the same.

What if I leave US with my I539 Extension or COS Pending with USCIS

What is the general guidance for filing H4 or H4 EAD with Travel plans ?

  • Planned Travel : If you know ahead of time that you plan to travel outside of US within a short period of time, then do not file any H4 Extension/ COS application with US, including H4 EAD application. Just get done with your travel, re-enter US and then file for H4 COS along with H4 EAD.
  • Unknown Emergency Travel : If you have an emergency and have to leave US with H4 COS or Extension and H4 EAD Pending, don’t worry too much about all of these, just leave, get your H4 Stamping done, if needed and then re-enter on H4, file a new H4 EAD application ias needed. 
  • Planned Non-Emergency Travel : If you have planned travel and have filed H4 COS/ Extension + H4 EAD together, if you can delay your planned travel, wait for the H4 COS / Extension to be approved and then you may travel with H4 EAD Pending. In such cases, make sure you have someone to receive your H4 EAD related mail from USCIS for you to know if there is any RFE or NOID and you need to respond to the same.
  • Emergency Travel with H4 EAD pending : If you on H4 in US and filed for H4 EAD only, and have to leave US on emergency, then make arrangements so that someone can collect mails from USCIS, so that you do not miss out any RFE or NOID kind of letters from USCIS. Once you receive any such RFE, make sure you come back to US and take care of them and send relevant information to US on-time.  If you do not respond on time, then they will consider your application as abandoned and deny the same.
Can I go for H4 Dropbox, with H4 Extension Pending ?

Yes, if you are eligible for general Visa Dropbox requirements, then you can go for H4 stamping using Dropbox. Having pending H4 extension does not matter. All you need is H1B approval for it.

Did you travel with H4 or H4 EAD Pending ? Share your thoughts

Reference : USCIS H4 EAD FAQs

   

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Comments ( 162 )

  1. Aakash

    Hello,

    I had applied for my spouse’s standalone H4 EAD only. But she had to travel on an emergency to India while her application was pending. We got a RFE for her application. Following documents are requested:
    1. Passport/Visa/Entry-Exit Stamps for both of us
    2. I-94 Document for both if us

    I wanted to inquire if I can respond to her RFE while she is out of the country or does she need to be in the country before we can respond.

    1. administrator
      Kumar

      Aakash,
      Well, usually, if it was only for H4 EAD, it maybe fine to respond to the RFE. But, if your spouse is going to be coming back soon, do send it after she arrives in US.
      Also, you may put in a requisition letter stating the reason for leaving to India and plans to return back.

  2. Raj

    Kumar – I got my H1 extension approved.While my spouse h4 extension and EAD is still pending (have not got biometric appointment yet),can we travel outside beyond our visa expiry date (Visa expires July 3rd week) ?

    What happens if we travel outside and stay beyong July 3rd week.I know I can get my H1 stamped.What about my spouse H4 extension and EAD?

    1. administrator
      Kumar

      Raj,
      Based on what users said, it may continue to be processed, the only catch is, if you get this after you enter US, there will be I-94 mismatch.

  3. Deep

    Hello Kumar,

    My H1 has been approved and spouse H4 is pending and there might be a need to travel.

    Lot of attorneys online are confidently saying that H4 extension would be considered abandoned if H4 holder travels out of the country, however we do see that H4 extension getting approved even if the H4 holder leaves the country. Are you aware of any uscis official reference or precedent on this? Or are the attorneys merely saying based on the note in uscis website where it says i539 gets abandoned when the applicant leaves the country although uscis clearly means it for change of status.

    Thank you.

    Thanks.

    1. administrator
      Kumar

      Deep,
      There is no official USCIS statement on this. Whatever is available is already on this page, where we have put it. Based on users’ experience shared on the blog, it is observed that H4 Extensions continues to be processed, even after they leave the country. But, if it was a COS, then it will be abandoned, that’s clear as you can see the screenshot from USCIS website in above article.

      1. GAURAV MEROTHIYA

        It is True .. In case of my spouse, we have travelled outside and came back.. H4 Got approved .. Now we have only issue of mismatched I-94.

          1. GAURAV MEROTHIYA

            I have called CBP office and they said to Cross Border for fixing that issue. I have visa till Sep-2020 , Planning to go Mexico Border to fix that issue in Aug.

  4. Richa

    amazing forum, Hope i get my answers.
    My h4 expires in aug 2020, will be filed for extension in a week.
    1. Can i start my masters starting last week aug,while h4 extention is pending
    2. can i travel to india, i understand i can there will i-94 mismatch(how to get the mismatch corrected, any suggestions?)
    3.last, I want to convert my h4 to f1 and i will book an appointment in india in dec for the same. Will they raise questions regarding my h4 extenson pending , and is their a chance they cancel both my h4 anf f1.

    1. administrator
      Kumar

      Richa,
      1. You may do that. But, I suggest you check with your DSO once before you embark on the journey of Masters, if any issues
      2. Well, the easiest way to exit and re-enter the country by going to any nearest border.
      3. Well, this is going to be tricky…You are moving from dual intent visa to non-immigrant visa, so can be tricky. Check Dual Intent vs Non-immigrant . It is hard to say…but usually, they may only cancel one and leave the other…

  5. Satish

    Filed H1B and H4 extension on 5th Dec 2019, got RFE and H1B approved on 16th March (H4 still pending). Now planning to apply H4 EAD by end of month.
    Can my wife travel next month after applying EAD with H4 extension and H4 EAD pending.

  6. Mani

    Hi Kumar,

    My wife H4 visa expires in June and we already filed for her H4 extension , EAD last month. Can she travel out to U.S.A in June and then return back in July/August with new H4 visa stamp (basing on my approved) H1B without impacting her EAD processing? / Her EAD might be denied since she is not in U.S.A while its being processed?

    1. Mani

      Also, if her EAD denies , is there a way to challenge that by providing her new visa stamp after she returns back to get the EAD approved? / does she have to re-apply for EAD and it goes through the same long wait process?

      1. administrator
        Kumar

        Mani,
        There is nothing to challenge…If they deny, then you need to re-apply. As per historical cases, it should not be denied and it should be processed as it is extension.

    2. administrator
      Kumar

      Mani,
      It is very likely that it will be continued to be processed as your H4 EAD was filed as extension and it is also based on users inputs. So, you should be fine. Read the above article again, it has official references as well.

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