September 09, 2007

H1B visa expiration tip - don't get caught out of status

A topic of interest to me is the US visa process and in particular the H1B visa. As many people in our industry either hire H1Bs or work on an H1B here's a tip for you if your H1B visa will be expiring. Be sure to try and hop on either a TN or a tourist visa BEFORE your H1B expires... failing to do so may/will result in getting barred for a 10 year period from entering the US... ouch! One example I heard about recently discussed a person whose his H-1 expired. He then remained in the U.S. without working, believing that he "just became a Canadian tourist."  During this time, he wrote papers and polished his career, all the while staying in the U.S. He even got a new TN a little over a year later, going to a Mexico-U.S. border post. Now this person is barred from the US for 10 years. The reason - he was out of status an in the country illegally. This gentleman could have simply filed a tourist visa application on form I-139 to stay in status before his H-1 expired. That would have decontaminated him.  He could have been purified for any future visas. (Source: Joe Grasmick's Border Report newsletter)

4 comments:

Morten said...

I don't get why you only have 10 days to leave the country if your H1B expires. If you quit your job (or even worse get fired) you have 10 days to sell your house and car, get a plane ticket and pack all your stuff.
I couldn't find anything on the I-139. Are you sure you don't have to leave the country first to get a new one?

Glenn said...

h1b is a funny situation.. you absolutely cannot go out of status and you have little time to correct things. Obviously you know when the expiration is coming and with one renewal 6 years is all you have on H1B. If applicable you can jump on to a TN but once again you need to apply well before it expires. I'd suggest about 3 months before expiration to start making plans. Try grasmick.com for details as he has great info - his handbook is a great resource too and well worth the $100

Morten said...

As far as I know TN is only for Canadians, and if you are a Canadian on an H1B, chances are that you are on the wrong visa in the first place.
Your visa can get revoked. Your employer sponsors the visa, so if you loose your job, you loose your visa and get only 10 days to leave the country. So with only a one day notice being the norm in the US, you probably don't have more than 10 days to figure it all out.

Glenn said...

well, to clarify, TN is for Canadians and Mexicans (and Americans in Canada etc..) - think NAFTA - BUT, your wrong, Canadians on H1B are not on the wrong visa. H1B has a purpose and it guarantees 6 yrs on the visa and is very useful for jumping to a green card.. something very tough (impossible) on a TN. In short, H1B is a much better choice for Canadians on high-tech positions in the US, however, the problem is that professionals from India are whoring all the visas so nobody else can get them