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 : 202 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

   

Other Articles


Comments ( 202 )

  1. Karunakaran Raju

    Hi,

    My H1b visa is approved till 2022 but my wife h4 visa is pending for approval (biometrics & approval) due to personal emergency we came to india this September.
    Now I am applying for stamping (dropbox) since my visa was approved

    Can h4 go for stamping ( dropbox) with h1b approval?

    What will happen to the pending biometrics process?

    H4 allowed to travel back to US after stamping , what additional documents to carry?

    Please clarify, thanks in advance.

    1. administrator
      Kumar

      Anonymous,
      If you have H4 Visa valid to re-enter US, you do not need to go for stamping. H4 EAD has nothing to do with H4 visa.

  2. H4 Hopeful

    Hi Kumar,

    Can you provide some clarity on this? I have received multiple conflicting statements on what happens to h4 extension applications when we travel outside the country. (Your article says that it’ll continue to be processed)

    I have given my biometrics and am waiting for h4 and h4 EAD approval. I am planning to leave the country for 5-6 months and come back later. Will my extension petition continue to be processed (and approved) along with my EAD so that by the time I’m back, I get my EAD here or will it get abandoned.

    I understand that in either case, I’ll have to get the h4 stamped at the embassy but I’m more concerned about the EAD Because if that’s abandoned, I’ll have to reapply for it once I come back. If not, I’ll have it mailed to me when I’m out.

    Let me know your thoughts.

  3. Sana

    Hi,

    I had applied for a COS from F1 to H4 in April 2020. It has been received but biometrics is still pending. Unfortunately I have to go back to India due to some unavoidable reasons. I understand that this will deem my COS abandoned and denied.
    1. Will it impact my case if I apply for a H4 visa later again at a consulate in India?
    2. Since my F1 status ended in the meantime and I have been overstaying based on my I539 receipt notice, will it be a problem while traveling out of US?
    Thanks for your post!

  4. Anchal

    Hi
    My husband is on h1b visa and he got the extension of visa, today I had my biometric for the extension of visa as I am on h4 visa. So I want to know how much time does it take for the visa to come?

  5. sriramkumar

    Hi ,

    I am on H1B in US ,My wife went to India for a family emergency who is on H4 . Her extension is still pending . My H1B just approved . I know she can go for stamping with my Approval notice . My son who is on H4 stays in US with me . His application is pending with USCIS decision. What will happen to his application once my wife got her stamping ?

  6. Shan

    Hi,
    Hope I can get some answers and clarity on my situation. I am on H1 and I recently got my H1 transferred to a new employer. I have got approval notice with me.
    My dependents H4 visa is still pending. They have got the biometric scheduled for October second week.
    #1 how long it can take for uscis to tell the decision on my dependents visa transfer after biometric is done?
    #2 is there a way myself or attorney can expedite the process after biometric is given?
    #3 I have some travel plans after biometric is done. Before I get any decision from uscis, if me and my dependents travel out of country, will there be any problem while entering usa again?
    #4 based on my H1 approval notice, can my dependents also get stamped when entering USA? Provided their visa transfer is still pending?

    1. Shan

      Note : all of us have visa currently stamped till mid of 2021, from my former employer.

      H1 and H4 transfer was applied in feb 2020. Biometric initially was scheduled for March 2020 and got rescheduled to October 2020.

  7. Manoj

    Hi Kumar, Thank You for wonderful article. I am on H1B and my wife is on H4 EAD. Both expires in Feb 2020. Since the H4 Ext is taking too long, there is no chance that her H4 ext and EAD will be approved by Feb. I am planning to do my H1B premium 5 months in advance. I am thinking that rather than filing H4 Ext, can she just travel out of country and get H4 stamp based on my approved I765? Once come back she files standalone EAD. This way no H4Ext is required and no Biomatrics. Is this even possible?

      1. Manoj

        Thank You Kumar. Is there any issue if H4 personal goes to consulate for ext while the current Visa is valid and I 765 is approved for future start date? Also I am not sure why no one is talking about this approach and rather wait for Biomatrics for over 6 months. Is there any catch?

        1. administrator
          Kumar

          Manoj,
          No issues. There is no catch. No one wants to go out of the country, as it is risky with COVID and no appointment dates.

        2. vivek

          Hi Manoj,

          I am also thinking of doing the same. Please let me how it goes. can we travel out of country(mexico or canada) for h4 visa stamping with existing valid h4?

  8. Harish

    Hi Kumar,

    This is Harish, Really appreciate your time in writing this article. Can you help me out with my question, I am on H1 currently and my wife is on H4 and applied for COS from H4 to F1. We have a plan to go for Canada for Soft-landing and return back the same day. But from what I understood my wife’s COS would be abandoned if we travel. So my questions are

    1. How long would it take for the application to be abandoned
    2. When can we file the COS again, Can we do that right after the return with current COS still showing in progress
    3. What if we go to India for F1 stamping with the COS in progress. This is because her H4 would be expiring this December 2020
    4. Would a rejected application have impact to the new COS

    1. administrator
      Kumar

      Harish,
      1. Well, we do not know…If you leave US, it will be considered abandoned.
      2. you can do it right away, but, it is tricky as you may not full documentation that it was abandoned…It is slightly grey area.
      3. It is the same thing.
      4. It may…all of them link to you maintaining proper status. Some of these are grey areas…
      It is best not to travel out, if you want to get COS. if you travel out, you should get visa stamping to re-enter. This way you avoid issues.

  9. Jayesh M

    Hi Kumar

    My wife is in india and she have approved H4 1794 copy untill December 2020. She could not get stamping due to current pandemic situation ..Now I have to file my H1B extension. Do I need to file H4 extension for her with my H1B extension? Or can I wait to get my
    h1b extension approved and schedule Visa appointment for h4 with my new H1b 1797 copy?

  10. Harry

    Hi, I am on H1 and lost my job. My wife is also on H1. I am planning to go out of the US by myself for some work. I am planning to apply for an H4 but can’t wait until it is approved before traveling. Sounds like my h4 COS will be deemed abandoned and cancelled. Will this affect my chances of applying for a B1/B2 for coming back into the US ? Also, how much time will it take to get a B1/B2 if I apply from Canada ?

    1. administrator
      Kumar

      Harry,
      Your intent really matters….it can create complications, if your spouse is in US and apply for B2…Ideal thing to do is get H4 stamping and enter US.

  11. Anonymous

    Hi
    My husband recently laid off on H1b (his 60 day grace period is ending on August 25th). We are planning to file H4 COS for him (with my H1b). Considering this scenario, I have few queries:
    1. Can he go to Mexico/Canada for H4 visa stamping (once they open after December) after his 60-days grace period is done or he has to wait in US for his COS approval.
    2. Can he bridge/apply for another H1b visa transfer even his H4 COS is pending, considering he gets a job in another one or two months.

    1. administrator
      Kumar

      Anonymous,
      1. Well, you need to check with Mexico and Canada, some of them do not allow such COS kind of applications.
      2. This may be difficult as your spouse does not have legal status. It can be done once the H4 is approved.

  12. Kiran

    Hi – My H1 is approved and need stamping . Wife’s EAD/H4 is submitted on July 8th , still haven’t received biometric appointment. We are planning to go to India around September. My company has offshore office and I can work there till the embassy re opens in India.

    My question is , is it okay to travel with respect to my wife scenario ? Does biometric has to be completed before we travel ? Also if I can work in my offshore company can I still go for stamping once embassy reopens

    1. administrator
      Kumar

      Kiran,
      If you leave US, it is fine. There is no need. If you all anyways plan to go for stamping, you can inform USCIS indicating that you are leaving the country and send the notice. This way you are compliant.

      1. Divya

        Hi – My husband’s H1 approved in May and I’m still waiting for my biometric appointment. We had to travel in emergency to India at end of June. Now since the consulate is closed we cannot get stamping done and have to wait atlease till December for that.

        1. Is there option to comeback only with H1 stamping (Supposed if the H4 application processing takes longer) ?
        2. Will the H4 application be processed when we are in India, Since the biometric is not done and I cannot go for biometric appointment , will they process the H4 application ?
        3. Since the consulate is not open and it might take more than 6 months to do so , is there any legal complication of staying more than 6 months in India ?

        1. administrator
          Kumar

          Divya,
          As you are outside of US, the H4 extension and biometrics does not matter anymore.
          You can get H4 stamping based on your spouse H1B. Wait for consulates to open and then book a slot. No complications staying out of the country.

          1. Divya

            Thanks Kumar for the reply. So when I go for H4 stamping in India , won’t they need H4 approved petition as well or they stamp based on H1 petition only ? What happens to H4 application , will it be canceled and biometrics also will be canceled ?

          2. administrator
            Kumar

            Divya,
            Yes, you do not need. If it was extension, they may process it. If COS, they will deny it. Yes, all of them.

  13. Ali

    Hi Kumar,

    Wife has approved I-129 petition for H1 while my H4 /EAD extension is pending biomatrix appointment. If we travel to India for an emergency, she wont be able to get new H1 stamped due to EO till Dec and might loose job and so will I (my EAD is already expired and company is waiting to rehire me ASA I present EAD). Should we avoid travel till Dec to maintain jobs?

    1. administrator
      Kumar

      Ali,
      In general, you should avoid travel in current situation with the EO to avoid issues. Now, your situation is fully dependent on your spouse. As long as she has H1B valid and working, you are good to use H4 status to work on EAD, so it is wise to stay back.

  14. Shaina

    Hi,
    My husband H1-B was about to expire in march 2020 but then got approved in march, till March 2023. My H4 extension is still pending ( biometrics appointment) because USCIS got closed in March due to covid-19.
    My MS classes would begin from August. Currently, my concern is can I change my status to F1 Visa when my H4 extension is yet pending? Or should I wait till another semester?

    1. administrator
      Kumar

      Shaina,
      It can be very tricky, if your I-94 has expired and does not work in most cases as you do not have proper status. If your H4 has expired and no I-94, you cannot apply for COS. Discuss with DSO on your options to study. Waiting depends on, if you want to study on H4 or F1. Read Study on H4 Advantages and Disadvantages

      1. Shaina

        Thank you so much for replying to my queries. Also, I would like to know which option is better
        1) To apply to USCIS for COS to F1 from H4 and wait for it .
        OR
        2) After one semester of studying in US , going back to India and coming back on F1 visa status.

        Which one would you advise considering pros and cons.

        1. administrator
          Kumar

          Shaina,
          Honestly, it depends on your priorities and flexibility. If you are attending a state school, you may get in-state and save fees, so in that case H4 is best. If you want to work on campus and get TA or others, then F1 maybe better…F1 stamping can be tricky as your spouse is in US and you may have to prove you will return back. Look at it logically, how will you return to India, when your spouse is in US…so, it is your discretion…Take a call by discussing with your spouse.

  15. Sam

    My wife is outside US currently and she has H4 visa till Oct 2020. My H1B status which was till Oct 2020 is now extended till 2023. Can my wife travel back to US on existing visa, show a copy of my new I797 which is valid till 2023 and get I94 till 2023 or will she only get it till Oct 2020 which means she has to apply for extension?

    1. administrator
      Kumar

      Sam,
      Yes, very likely she may be able to get it until 2023. Make sure to show the latest approval notice and they use that for I-94. Sometimes, there can be some officers, who may not..
      Worst case, you can apply for her extension after she arrives in US.

  16. 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.

      1. Aakash

        Thanks Kumar!

        One of the requirements for H4 EAD is that you need to be in valid H-4 status. I-94 can prove that she has H-4 status until March’2021. I wanted to know if the status on H-4 remains valid until that date even if you leave the country?

        1. administrator
          Kumar

          Aakash,
          True, that is for applying. No, you will not have status, once you leave US. Ideally, you respond when your spouse is in US, if no option, it does not hurt to respond to the RFE. If you read the FAQ, they only tell that it will delay the process and your ability to respond to RFE. Read the FAQ screenshot in above article or on USCIS site.

  17. 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.

  18. 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.

  19. 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…

  20. 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.

  21. 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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