Travel While H1 Pending?

Be extremely aware of the dates your status is valid, AND, when it changes.

I was recently asked the following question:

“Can I travel internationally while my H1B is in process (1 April 2018-30 Sep 2018 )? I am on F1 OPT and my Employer will file my cap-subject H1B petition on April 1, 2018.”


Traveling back and forth when your immigration status is about to change can be unnerving.  Between the potential need for new consular stamping and review at the port of entry, it's as uncertain as finding a way home during the holidays in a snowstorm.  If you've seen the above-pictured movie, you know what I mean!  Any number of bureaucrats have your life in their hands!  Personally, I suggest not traveling while your status is changing.  Even when technically feasible, things still happen.  Why risk it?
But the answer to the above question is, technically, yes.  This is because, if one's H1B petition is chosen in the lottery and approved, a cap-subject H1B would still not change status until Oct. 1 at the earliest. Your present status continues til then. BUT, if your OPT ends before Oct. 1 and you’re not taking classes, or you’re out of the country when it expires, you could have trouble so be mindful of that issue.  Or, avoid being curled up on the concrete benches of secondary inspection, with a stranger in funny pajamas, by avoiding travel while applications are pending.

Here's one of my favorite scenes:

NOTE: This is different advice than one would give for traveling while an H1 extension is pending. That scenario, in general, is a no-no.


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