New Rule Simplifies (somewhat) Re-Entry to U.S. for Travelling H-1’s and L’s

Starting today, Nov. 1, H-1 and L non-immigrant visa holders and their dependents who have pending I-485 permanent residency applications and travel abroad no longer need to present the application receipt notice to re-enter the U.S., according to a new rule issued by DHS. 

The new rule applies to visa holders in the following categories: H-1B (specialty occupations), H-1C (nurses in disadvantaged areas), L-1A (intracompany transferee -managers, executives), L-1B (intracompany transferee – specialized knowledge) and their dependents. The notice amending rule 8 CFR 245.2(a)(4)(ii)(C) was printed in today’s Federal Register.

Previously, H-1 and L non-immigrant visa holders who had pending permanent residency applications and traveled outside of the U.S. had to present the original receipt notice at the border to avoid having their applications deemed abandoned. (Generally, applications for adjustment of status under INA 245 are considered abandoned when the applicant leaves the United States unless certain procedures are followed before the trip.)

This requirement presented hardships to those visa holders who needed to travel and had not yet received a receipt notice due to USCIS’ lengthy processing times. These visa holders either had to cancel their trip or risk having their application denied, thereby forcing them to spend more money and time to re-apply.

DHS determined the document was an unnecessary burden to the visa holder because the information is already available in the government’s database.

The visa holder must still establish he or she remains eligible for H or L status, is returning to resume employment with the same, previously authorized employer, and holds a valid visa, if required.

The rule change does not apply to those in removal, exclusion or deportation proceedings.

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