Written by attorney Anu Gupta

Changing status from H1 to H4, then back to H1

Question. I’m thinking of changing jobs & I intend to travel for about 2 months to South America. My company is not willing to keep my H-1 visa status intact, during my travel. So, I would have to convert my visa to H-4 during travel, come back to USA, find a new job & process a new H-1. Is this a wise idea?

Answer. If you travel outside after your H1 employment ends, getting a H4 visa before leaving is a wise idea. However, if you return on H4 status, and then want to apply for a H1, you will need to apply as a “new" H1 instead of a transfer H1. A new H1 cannot start working till the H1 is approved (3-4 months) while a transfer H1 can start working when you receive a receipt from USCIS (usually within 3-7 days of filing). If you do not want to wait for that long to start working again, you should convince your employer not to fire you or file for another H1 prior to leaving.

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