H-1B Time Limits

H-1B Time Limits
H-1B status is limited to a total of six years, but in increments of no longer than three years at a time.  However, there are four exceptions to this limit. It is possible to obtain H-1B status beyond the six-year limit for the following individuals:

  • H-1B visa holders who are reaching the end of their six calendar years of H-1B status can request to “recapture” any exceptional amount of time spent outside the U.S. while in H-1B status. For example, if an H-1B visa holder left the U.S. for two months each summer for six summers, an H-1B application can be filed to request a recapture of 12 months in H-1B status. An H-1B application, including USCIS filing fees, must be submitted to USCIS and must include evidence of time spent outside the U.S. such as passport entry stamps, airline receipts, hotel reservations, etc. The amount of time recaptured is at the sole discretion of USCIS. It is a good idea to keep records of any travel in case a request to recapture H-1B status is an option.  
  • An application to extend an H-1B can be filed, beyond the six-year limit, if 365 days or more have passed since the filing of a labor certification, ETA 750 or 9089, that is needed to obtain status as an employment-based (EB) immigrant.
  • An H-1B can be extended beyond six years if 365 days or more have passed since the filing of an EB immigrant petition (I-140), such as petitions under the “Outstanding Professor/Researcher category.”
  • An H-1B can be extended if an employee is the beneficiary of an approved EB immigration petition but is unable to file to adjust status to permanent residence because there is a waitlist for available immigrant visas. This includes those who cannot apply for an adjustment of status solely because of “per-country limits” on immigrant visa availability for citizens of China, India, Mexico, and the Philippines.

Length of Exceptional Extensions 

  • In each of the cases above, International Services is the office that will file an extension of H-1B status that exceeds six calendar years. 
  • For a recapture of time application, International Services will file one application requesting the combined total amount of time the scholar was outside the U.S.
  • Most H-1B visa holders with pending EB permanent residency are allowed H-1B extensions for one year at a time for multiple extensions until permanent residency is either granted or denied.

H-1B visa holders from countries where there are “per country limits” may have their H-1B visas extended for up to three years at a time, for multiple extensions, until their permanent residency is either granted or denied. “Per country limits” apply to citizens of China, India, Mexico, and the Philippines.

Additional Resources

If you have any questions about the H-1B visa or application process, please contact International Services at empvisa@clemson.edu