Question. The H1 and H4 visas in our passports expire on September 15th . We filed and received approvals extending our visas for 3 years on Form I-797. We have not had the new visas stamped in our passports. Can we visit family and tour Europe and return to the US before 15 September? Can we travel after September 15 and return to the US? Can we apply for the visa in Europe instead of our home country?
Answer. You are allowed to travel as long as you return to the US before September 15th. I would recommend taking a letter from your employer confirming employment. Also take the approved H1 extension notice and documentation to prove valid employment.
(2) Travel with an approval notice, without a stamped visa. Rules on this change several times. Please consult with your attorney.
Generally, if you travel after the visa is expired, you will need to get the extension visa stamped in your passport. I would recommend contacting the US consulate in Europe that you wish to travel to, to see if they will issue the visa to you. Different consulates have different rules. Also, consulates frequently change their rules regarding visa issuance.
Also, several times in the past, H-1B workers were allowed to re-enter the US if they had an expired H-1B stamped in their passport but also had the visa extension approved. Getting the new visa issued by a consulate was not deemed necessary.
Please consult with an attorney to see which situation applies to you.