H-1B Travel Guidance

Below is important guidance for new and current H-1B employees concerning traveling while in H-1B status.

Initial Entrance into the U.S. in H-1B Status

International faculty and scholars entering the U.S. for the first time in H-1B status can enter up to 10 days before the official H-1B start date as listed on the H-1B visa. 

Documents Required for H-1B Travel 

Clemson faculty or scholars in H-1B status who travel outside the U.S. will need the following items to request re-entry to the U.S. and resume employment:

  • A passport that is valid for six months beyond the duration of your H-1B status. 
  • A valid H-1B visa stamp within the passport. A stamp is not necessary for Canadian citizens. 
  • A recent H-1B Travel Letter from the hiring department confirming continued employment, job title, annual salary, and dates of employment as listed on the I-797 H-1B Approval Notice. 
  • The previous three months' pay statements from Clemson University.

If applying for an H-1B visa outside the U.S., additional items may be requested by the U.S. Department of State. The additional items are included in the copy of the H-1B application provided by International Services. 

  • Copy of the USCIS Form I-129.
  • Copy of the LCA filed by International Services.
  • Curriculum Vitae.
  • Copy of diploma for highest degree earned, as well as transcripts if the field of study is not listed on the diploma. 

It is recommended to check with the U.S. Embassy abroad to verify if any additional documents are required for the visa interview. 

It is not recommended that H-1B employees with extension or change of status applications pending with USCIS travel abroad until USCIS has approved the applications.

Visa Expiration or Change of Status to H-1B within the U.S.

International faculty or scholars who have an expired H-1B visa or who obtained H-1B status while in the U.S. must obtain an H-1B visa stamp at a U.S. Embassy outside the U.S. if they travel abroad. The U.S. Department of State provides updates on visa appointment wait times here.  

Valid H-1B Visa for Prior Employer

An H-1B visa remains valid until the date of its expiration. H-1B employees who change, or port, employers in the U.S. may use the previously issued H-1B visa to request re-entry into the U.S. if the H-1B visa is still valid. The faculty or scholar must carry all other travel-related documents, including the new I-797A Notice of Approval, to request re-entry into the U.S. 

H-1B Travel Letter and Recent Pay Statements 

When an H-1B faculty or scholar travels internationally, they may be required to document that their employment is ongoing and will resume when the faculty/scholar returns to the U.S. It is recommended that the faculty/scholar print out copies of their last three pay statements and have a letter from the hiring department to document ongoing employment.

The pay statements can be downloaded from Clemson’s Office of Human Resources under Current Employees, then HR Self-Service. The travel letter should be printed on departmental letterhead, written by the faculty/scholar’s supervisor, department chair, or HR administrator, and include contact information for the person signing the letter. The letter should be concise and to the point. One or two paragraphs are sufficient. A template for an H-1B Travel Letter can be found here

International Employment

To be actively employed by Clemson University, all international faculty and scholars on H-1B visas are required to meet with International Employment in Clemson's Office of Human Resources to complete or update their employment paperwork to reflect their H-1B status. For more information on International Employment and its requirements, please contact them at intlemployment@clemson.edu

Returning to the U.S. Using "Automatic Revalidation"

Automatic Revalidation allows H-1B nonimmigrants to re-enter the U.S. with an expired U.S. visa stamp in their valid passport after visiting Canada or Mexico for less than 30 days. Under this provision, the expired nonimmigrant visa is automatically extended to the date of readmission. For the most up-to-date information, visit the U.S. Department of State (DOS) or U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

Important Reminders for Faculty/Scholars' use of Automatic Revalidation:

  • Can only be used for travel exclusive to either Canada or Mexico; travel to other countries is not permitted.
  • Cannot apply for a new U.S. visa stamp while in Canada or Mexico.
  • Hold a passport valid for at least six months from the date of re-entry to the U.S. unless from a country listed here.
  • Have an unexpired I-94 record or admission stamp.
  • Have the bottom left side of the I-797A H-1B Approval Notice.
    • Note: When exiting the U.S. using automatic revalidation do not surrender your I-94 as you will need it for re-entry to the U.S.
  • Apply for readmission to the U.S. within the 30-day limit to visit Canada or Mexico.
  • Have maintained and intend to resume non-immigrant status upon re-entry to the U.S.
  • Cannot be a citizen or national of countries designated as state sponsors of terrorism by the U.S. DOS.
  • Cannot have had a visa canceled under INA 222(g).
  • Cannot have entered the U.S. under the Visa Waiver Program.

International Services advises travelers to carry the CBP article on Automatic Revalidation with them when traveling to Canada or Mexico.

Important reminder: A U.S. visa does not automatically grant entry into other countries. Prior to travel, check to see if an entry or visitor visa is needed to travel to Canada or Mexico.

 Additional Resources

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