H-1B Extension Overview
An approved H-1B petition is generally valid for up to 3 years. Upon expiration of the H-1B visa, if the H-1B worker wishes to continue employment with the same H-1B employer, he/she may extend the H1B for an additional three years. Extensions beyond the 6 year maximum period of H-1B admission are possible but only in limited circumstances.
General Requirements for H-1B Extension
- Initial H-1B visa is still valid unless special circumstances arise;
- Initial H-1B employer has been fulfilling H-1B obligations i.e. paying prevailing wages etc…
- Initial H-1B job duties and circumstances of the H-1B employment have not changed significantly;
- H1B employer is willing to pay the up-to-date H-1B prevailing wages, even if it means paying more than what the H1B employee has been compensating during his/her initial H-1B employment period.
H-1B Extension beyond 6 years
One year residence abroad requirement
The main limitation of H-1B extension is that it may be extended for only up to 6 years unless some exceptions apply. Generally, once the 6 years period is reached, the H-1B worker cannot seek readmission in the H-1B category, extension of H-1B stay, or change of status to a new H-1B visa until he/she is resided outside of the United States for a full year. Any brief trips to the U.S. during this year is counted toward fulfilling the one-year requirement.
Exemptions from one year residence abroad requirement
There are several exemptions from the 1 year residence abroad requirement for foreign nationals who have been on the H-1B visa for 6 years or more. These exempted circumstances allow the H-1B workers to extend their H-1B admissions beyond 6 years if:
- they have been working in the U.S. on an intermittent or seasonal basis or for less than 6 months per year, or
- they live abroad and commute to the U.S. to engage in part-time employment, or
- H-1B worker has an approved I-140 (I-140 beneficiary) for his/her EB-1, EB-2, or EB-3 employment based petition who cannot adjust because of the unavailability of an immigrant visa for his/her country of origin i.e. priority backlog for Indian/Chinese EB petitions.