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 : 63 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 ( 63 )

  1. Geetanjali Hari

    Hi Kumar,

    My H4 extension is to be applied next month i.e. on November 2019, my visa is valid till 18 th December 2019. I have travel plans on November 2019 for 1 week and plan to come back before the date of expiry of my H4 visa. Will there be any problem in getting an extension if I travel?

    Thank you,
    Geetanjali

    1. administrator
      Kumar

      It is better to apply after you travel out and come back to avoid I-94 mismatch issues. No, there should not be any issues, carry all relevant documents, you will be fine.

  2. H4 EAD Extension

    Hello,

    I have a question on my pending H4/H4 EAD Extension filed in Vermont (Early June 2019.
    Application is still pending approval, however we had to travel for person emergency purpose to Mexico last week. Went for H4 Visa Interview along with my spouse and got 3 years stamping (based on his new I797 approval). Came back to US yesterday with new I-94 number in passport.

    Question – Will my H4 EAD extension be denied? Current EAD expires in Jan 2020. Should I wait for approval or file a new EAD application? Little concerned here, but couldn’t avoid travel hence not sure what will happen to pending EAD?

    Thank you.

  3. rani

    My husband’s h1 is approved recently when applied in premium. My h4 extension and h4 ead were filed concurrently and I am yet to give biometrics in 2weeks.
    We are not eligible for Dropbox option and we have to attend a visa interview for stamping.
    If we travel to India next month and return to USA in a month after getting my h4 visa stamped with my husband’s h1 approval, will my h4 extension applied be abandoned?(that is what our attorney said)
    Also does it impact h4 ead?(applying for the first time)

    1. administrator
      Kumar

      rani, H4 extensions have not been abandoned so far. Many users have tried this option and they had h4 approved and EAD also continued to be processed. The only issue is the I-94 mismatch.

  4. Abdul Kalam

    Hi Kumar,

    I have recently changed my job and planning to travel India, could you please advise on my situation.

    Previous employer applied H1 and H4 in regular before expiry date(31 May 2019), Current employer applied H1 in PP and H4 in regular, both the H1 extensions approved but both H4 are still pending.

    Current employer filed H4 on June 18, 2019.
    Bio-metrics given on Aug 28, 2019.(delayed due to reschedule)

    is it okay to travel India get H4 stamped and come back? is there any risk involved? Please help.

  5. Sam

    Hi,
    H4 extension for me and my kid was applied while I was in US , along with my spouse H1b extension. We had to go to our home country when H4 extension was still pending. Once we came back my spouse got H1b approved, but our H4 is still pending. I already had an approved I797 , and I am planning to go for H1b stamping. 1) Will this cause any concern during h1b stamping. 2) should i submit H4 withdrawal for me and my kid? my kid will now be my dependent not my spouse’s. Because H4 processing should not impact my status after i travel to US on H1b.
    Pls advise

    1. administrator
      Kumar

      Well, one of the ways to fix it is, you go for h1B stamping and take your kid for H4 stamping as your dependent and also in parallel submit the withdrawal letter to USCIS, so that it gets stopped. When you enter, you enter on H1B and your kid on H4. Discuss with an attorney on the timing to handle it right.

  6. RK

    My Spouse and mine visa got expired on June 30, i got my H1B Extension till June 2022 but my wife H4 extension is still in Progress. Case was registered with USCIS on May 2 and her biometrics has been done on May 24. She has travel plans in Oct second week and tickets are booked already. Can you please suggest do we need to reschedule the travel plan

    1. administrator
      Kumar

      RK,
      If it is an emergency, then you can go ahead travel. You can apply for H4 dropbox back home and get stamping done.

  7. BK

    Hi,

    Please advice,
    Filed H1 and H4 extension (H4 – biometrics completed) and crossed the visa expiry date June 15. Staying in 240 days period. Spouse needs to be leave USA soon for academic work and currently visa status is in processing\pending. I hope if i didn’t withdraw our H4 may get denied. in this case (as already visa expired) How can my spouse return back and how to file H4 case back from India?
    Can you please advice.

  8. Jiten

    Hi Kumar,

    Here is my situation, need your advice.
    H1B filed in regular – 6/18/2019
    H1B + H4(with NPT) filed in PP – 7/22/2019
    H1B approved – 7/27/2019
    H4 status – Case was received. Waiting for biometrics appointment.

    My employer forgot to file H4 before expiry (6/18/2019) and filed again with H1B in premium processing after a month with nunc pro tunc process.

    Currently the processing time is around 3.5-5.5 months for H4 to be adjudicated. If my wife wait in US for USCIS decision and if it gets denied after 5-6 months, she may cross 180 days limit while leaving USA. If she leave USA now, her extension will be abondoned and then ultimately denied and also she had accrued unlawful presence in USA which she will have to explain to Visa Officer while Interview for visa stamping.

    What is the best option as per your experience now?

    Thanks

    1. administrator
      Kumar

      Yes, the delays are long and it can be risky, if it stretches..As of today, based on what I read, it is not too many days since the I-94 expiry maybe 30 days at max right…
      Traveling out may or may not get the H4 extension denied, we have seen few users go out for stamping, but still got h4 approved. It is the COS that will be denied.
      If your spouse is open to go out for stamping, you might as well go out and get H4 Stamping done at consulate. You can withdraw the H4 petition, once she gets stamping…
      I would suggest you speak to an attorney or your H1B attorney and take decision on this understanding all risks.

      1. Swati

        My Husband’s H 1 is approved last week through premium processing however my H4 status is still same ( case was received) I am traveling to India on 31st August,19 due to some unavoidable reasons. Is it okay? Can I travel when my h 4 extension is pending. How will I come back?

        1. administrator
          Kumar

          Depends on your current status of filing extension or COS. Read the above article again, you situation would be there.

  9. Ron

    Hello Kumar,
    My spouse and I are in F visa right now. I switched to H1B and it got approved in may. My spouse’s I539 petition was pending for a long time. We recently received an RFE (additional evidence) for that petition. I do not know what is asked in that RFE yet. I have planned to travel out of US in early september and have scheduled an appointment with the US consulate for visa stamping for the both of us.
    Question: can we go ahead with stamping when we have a pending RFE for I539 petition.
    Note: this is h4 cos (no EAD).
    Thanks in advance!

    1. administrator
      Kumar

      You may go ahead with the stamping. Nevertheless, you need to know what is asked in the RFE as background. You may respond to USCIS withdrawing her H4 COS petition as you are traveling out for stamping.

      1. Ron

        Hello Kumar, thanks for your response. I got the rfe. We are requested to submit all previous I20s.

        Hello Sonali,
        This is a fresh H1 and H4 application. Pending since may.

        Thanks!

  10. Kumar

    Is there a criteria or a period to recapture H1B. I have utilized 2 years of H1 B which was issued in 2007 and in 2009 and changed my status to H4 . This being the case can I recapture now and will I be exempted from the cap and lottery.

  11. Jag

    Hi,

    By looking into above H4 EAD scenarios. It concludes that if your H4 EAD is pending USCIS and you go out of USA and come back with valid H4 you need to refile EAD. But one of user confirmed she got EAD approved.

    I am in the same case and my attorney from Murthy Law

    The existing H4 application is no longer needed since she got an I-94 upon reentry which should have been for the duration of your H1B approval. She doesn’t need to file another EAD application and it should still be processed.

    Are we getting confused with the change of status (COS) and H4 Ext

  12. SM

    Kumar,

    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
      Kumar

      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.

  13. Vimal Prasath VR

    Hi,

    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!

    Regards,
    Vimal

  14. 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?

    Thanks

    1. administrator
      Kumar

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

  15. 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??

  16. 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
      Kumar

      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.

      1. Darshini

        Hi
        My receipt date was May 7th
        For h4 extension and h4 EAD, I’m planning to travel to India next month and get stamping with my spouse h1extension,
        Once I get the stamping done what happens to the pending h4 extension and the h4 Ead please let me know , and I Filled both together ead and h4 but USCIS is eating that only h4 is filled they don’t see the ead application! Does this happen with everyone who is applying h4 extension and EAD together??
        Please let me know
        Thank you ,

  17. 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
      Kumar

      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.

  18. 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
      Kumar

      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
        Kumar

        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.

  19. 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
      Kumar

      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.

  20. 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???

  21. Kiran

    Kumar,

    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?

  22. 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
      Kumar

      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.

  23. 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
      Kumar

      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
          Kumar

          Ram,
          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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