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 : 32 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 Extension or Change of Status (COS) is pending?

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

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 Extension or Change of Status (COS) filed along with H4 EAD is pending with USCIS? ( H4 COS/Extension + H4 EAD )

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

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

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. 
  • 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.

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

Reference : USCIS H4 EAD FAQs


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Comments ( 32 )

  1. SM


    Can one travel to Canada for a short trip (<30days) by road and return with H4 Extension (I-539) and H4EAD Renewal (I-765) pending? It is my understanding that the I-94 will not be updated in this case. Current H4, H4EAD and I-94 are all valid till September but extension and renewal applications are pending with Nebraska center. Travel is planned for August. Please advise.

    1. administrator

      Yes, if your I-94 is valid, then you can use the Automatic Visa Revalidation (AVR) option to go to Canada and come back. Yes, that’s the idea, as your old same I-94 will be used for your re-entry with AVR. Discuss with your attorney as well to be sure.

  2. Vimal Prasath VR


    I’m in kind of same situation, we had our h1b & h4 approved till Sep 2019 and now, I got my H-1B approved till Dec 2021 through PP. H4 also filed along with that but bio metric alone done and still waiting for the H4 decision. Is it okay to travel as family and use my latest approved I797A to get entire family stamped and return by Aug last?

    Thanks in advance!


  3. DV

    Hi Kumar,

    I have worked on H1B for 4 years from 2012 to 2016 so there is only 2 year limit left on H1B. In 2016, i switched to H4 EAD and i had the approval from Jun 2016 to Jun 2019. Because of the H4 EAD bio metric delays now, applied for both H4 EAD renewal as well as H1B COS. I got approval on H4 EAD first from June 2019 to 2022 and then H1B approval from June 2019 to June 2021. Using automatic re validation, I am going to enter USA on H4 to make H4 active and valid.

    My Question is – Time on H4 does count towards the 2 years limit left on H1?

    In other words, Can i reuse this same 2 year limit on H1 in 2022 once my H4 EAD expires or by that time i must have initiated GC processing if i want to go for H1B extension or transfer? Please advise what is the best option for my situation.

    Also – for automatic re validation, can you suggest any city and also suggest is it good to go by cruise or air?


    1. administrator

      Yes, it does not count. Yes, you may do that. I always recommend you check with your H1B attorney to be sure…

  4. Gopalakrishnan

    Hi Kumar,

    I have a question related to my H4 extensions. I applied my Visa extension on June 6th in PP and i got my approval notice on 10 of june.My Wife and my son did the biometrics on June 20th.We are waiting for my wife and son’s approval.We are planning to travel in September end.Can we travel to India without the approval and can i do the drop box for my wife and son’s passport along with my passport and approval notice or what is the process??

  5. Ram

    Hi Kumar,

    I have two questions

    1.I have filed My wife H4 extension along with H1 in premium processing.My h1 got approved and my wife H4 extension is in pending.If i file H4 EAD renewal for my wife separately now and if we go out of country in September and she gets H4 stamping in India and will come back to USA.What will happen to H4 EAD will it be denied along with H4 ?

    2. Question regarding passport renewal.My passport will expire in next year Oct 2020.If i request for passport re-issue for adding spouse name will they issue new passport with 10 years validity?

    1. administrator

      Well,they may issue RFE to send H4 approval notice to adjudicate H4 EAD or they may deny, if they do not hear back…
      Yes, usually they will give 10 year validity, if you do any changes to passport.

  6. Kamesh

    Hi Kumar,
    My H1b and visa stamping are valid until – Dec 2019
    My wife’s h4 and visa stamping are valid until – Dec 2019
    We are planning to visit India in Nov 2019. I am in the process of applying for my h1b extension in premium. Is it necessary that I file H4 extension for my wife with my H1b extension as we are planning to leave the country before her I-94 expiration date. Can she just go for H4 visa stamping with approved H1b extension. Does it affect her visa stamping.
    Appreciate your input. Thanks

    1. administrator

      No need to, if you are anyways going for H1B stamping. Filing will create more confusions with I-94, so better choice is to file yours, get it approved, use that for stamping and come back.

  7. Selected

    I have a question: I am in US on L1 and my spouse on L2. My client applied for H1 this year and it got selected. Can we travel out of country in December and return back even if my spouse’s H4 petition is pending approval? Will changing the petition from COS to consular help in getting H4 approved?

    1. administrator

      If H4 was filed as COS, then the application will be considered abandoned, if you leave the country. I do not think it will it get faster.

      1. Selected

        Hi Kumar, If my H1B gets approved(premium processing), can she not go to consulate in India and get her H4 stamped based on my petition approval?

      1. administrator

        We have it answered in the top, read again. I suggest you make arrangements for your mail to be checked, because, if there are issues and you do not respond on time, it maybe in trouble. I suggest you collect the receipt and go, but if you have no choice, should be fine as long as someone can check mail and let you know, if any issues.

  8. Vamshi

    Hi Kumar,

    What if family is already in India, and current H1B holder changing his employer, and new employer applying transfer of H1B along with H4. How does it work in this case. Can you please let me know.

    1. administrator

      There is no need to even apply for H4 in this case. The person on H4 can take the H1B approval and then go for stamping and enter US.

  9. Sharmila Subramanian

    My h4 biometric scheduled at Minneapolis but am living in CA
    Can i go to nearby centre to do biometric???
    How many days after biometric for confirmation???

  10. Kiran


    I am on H4 Visa and planning to apply for H4 EAD in a month.
    My travel plans are in the month of December.

    I need to appear for stamping as well. Does my travel and stamping impact my H4 EAD processing?

  11. Namrata

    I am in a similar situation. Have valid L2 till Oct 18th, spouse L1 extension is approved until October 2021, my L2 extension and L2 EAD are pending. We have travel plans in month of July. Our attorney has said since it is an extension and not “COS” EAD application will not be impacted.

    1. administrator

      That’s good to hear…Thanks for sharing. Please let the community know on the status, after your travel on what happened… Also, ask them how the I-94 would be updated on the L2 extension as it will be different.

  12. Jyoti

    My attorney said it is perfectly fine to travel in my case. Here is my case.

    Today is 22-May-2019.
    Both mine and spouse visa (h1, h4 and visa stamps) valid till Sep 2019.
    Applied for my H4 ext with spouse H1 ext (premium) on Apr 2019.
    My spouse H1 extension is approved and valid for 3 years from Sep 2019.
    My current H4 is valid till 30-Sep-2019. I have valid visa stamp till 30-Sep-2019.
    My H4 extension (filled with H1 above) is under process – bio-metric done.
    Planning to go out of country in July 1st and returning on 31st July 2019 (while my visa stamp is still valid)

    Attorney says that my current H4 ext application will NOT be abandon and will continue to process.

    Did anyone on same boat with similar recommendation?

    1. Jags

      Me too. I am planning to go outside with my kid in Jun itself and returning on July. Same as your situation except my and kid visa stamp is valid till mid September. Got similar answer from attorney.

    2. administrator

      Well, our guidance is based on what USCIS says, you can see the screenshots, it is the same I-539 form you use for both COS and extension…Also, many other attorney’s agree with USCIS guidance on website…Nevertheless, do share your outcome once you decide…

      1. Ram

        Hi Kumar,

        My Lawyer had similar recommendation. He said H4 might be abandoned but H4 EAD will not be denied is what my lawyer said. From the screenshot it clearly mentioned that “change to H-4 status from different non-immigrant status” then it gets abandoned too. So, extension of same status might not fall under this rule.

        1. administrator

          Please go with your attorney as they know your situation better. Do let the community know, based on the outcome…The key issue is with the change in I-94 number, after you exit and re-enter…

    3. Dhruv

      Hi – what did you decide to do in your situation ? Are you going ahead with your travel plans when H4 extension is pending and knowing that you have a valid stamped H4 visa until September?

      Will appreciate your inputs. thanks!

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