H-1B Scholars

Travel Guidelines

Items needed for reentry to the United States in H-1B status:

  1. Original I-797 Approval Notice: Please pick up the original from our office before travel. You must return this page to our office after your return along with a copy of both sides of your new I-94 departure record and new visa if any.

  2. Your "Personal Record" half of the I-94 attachment (left side). Do not give up the personal records half when leaving the U.S. This was given to you by our office when your H-1B approval notice arrived from the USCIS. If you do not have it, please contact our office immediately. Put the I-94 (right side) into your passport. It will be taken from you when you leave the U.S.

  3. Copy of most recent H-1B petition (Form I-129 with supporting documents). These were given to you by our office with Item 2 above.

  4. Valid passport with I-94 Departure Record attachment in it.

  5. Current employer's letter. This is part of the H-1B petition, a copy was given to you with Item 2 above.

  6. Paycheck stubs from the past three months and a copy of most recent income tax return.

  7. H-1B visa: Check your passport to see if you need to obtain an H-1B visa stamp at a U.S. consulate before reentry. Consulates require the I-797 form and a copy of the I-129 Petition. If you had J-1 status in the past, and were subject to the 2-year rule, we also recommend you bring a copy of the waiver approval notice (I-612).

    If you need to renew or apply for a U.S. entry visa, expect delays.
    Plan ahead, as this may take longer than in the past. Because most visa applicants are now required to appear for a personal interview, you should expect processing delays. In addition, "security checks" can delay visa issuance by several weeks or months.

    Information on visas & consular procedures is available on the web at the State Department website and links to various U.S. consulates through the official U.S. Embassy list.

  8. When you reenter the U.S.: Carefully review your I-94* departure record when you reenter the U.S. while you are in the DHS inspection area to be sure the inspector has noted the proper status (H-1B) and departure date on your I-94* (end of current H-1B validity date). Call incorrect notations to the attention of the DHS inspector for correction.

    Starting in mid-May 2013, Customs & Border Protection phased out the issuance of physical I-94s at ports of entry in California (land border ports of entry will still issue physical I-94s). Scholars can access their I-94 print-out at https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov/I94. For more information and updates on I-94, please visit the CBP I-94 webpage.

    Note: Scholars previously issued a paper form I-94 or who have recently received an I-94 as part of an H-1B approval should still surrender it to their commercial carriers or Customs upon departure. 

  9. After reentry please send our office a good quality copy of your H-1B visa and both sides of your I-94* departure record, showing red entry stamp.

    Please address the copies to International Scholar Advisor, International Education Office, University of California, Santa Cruz, CA 95064 or via email at ischolar@ucsc.edu

Special Guidelines for travel in North America

If you are planning a trip for 30 days or less to Canada or Mexico, please make sure that you have the necessary travel documents for each country. Citizens of specific countries will need to secure a Canadian or Mexican visa at a local embassy.

In addition to the documents listed above, it is recommended that you do NOT relinquish your I-94 card, but hold on to it. If the U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers do take your I-94, make sure to obtain a new one upon your re-entry.

Automatic Visa Renewal

The automatic revalidation regulations found at 22 CFR 41.112(d) allow individuals to make short trips out of the U.S. to certain locations under certain conditions to reenter the U.S. even if their visa is expired.

Please contact ischolar@ucsc.edu if you have questions regarding your status or travel.

Maintaining Legal Status for Scholars in H-1B Status


University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC) has petitioned U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) on your behalf and secured approval to employ you in H-1B status. There are a number of rules and procedures governing H-1B status that you must follow, and others that must be followed by UCSC in accordance to Department of Labor regulations. It is important for you to understand these in order to maintain lawful status and to remain lawfully employed by this institution.

  1. This page has been created by International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) in order to identify some of the instances for which you should seek assistance from ISSS staff. It is, of course, impossible to cover all U.S. laws and regulations that might affect you in every situation; however, at your request, the ISSS staff will be pleased to offer additional information, as well as counseling and assistance, on federal regulations and procedures related to your lawful status. We strongly encourage you to contact ischolar@ucsc.edu any time you have a question or if you intend to travel and re-enter the United States.

  2. Review the H-1B Orientation document for further information. 

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The H-1B Classification

The United States government defines the H-1B as a classification granted for an individual to work in a "specialty occupation." A specialty occupation is described as a position that requires application of a highly specialized body of knowledge in a field that normally requires a bachelor's degree or higher in the specialty as a minimum requirement for entry into the occupation in the United States. To qualify for the H-1B visa classification, the employee must possess at least a bachelor's degree, or the equivalent, in the specialty field. Most UCSC H-1B employees hold a Ph.D. in the specialty field in which they have been hired.

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Employment Start Date

If you are currently outside the U.S.A., you may enter the country up to ten (10) days prior to the start date indicated on the I-797 Approval Notice. You must begin employment at UCSC by the start date listed on this Approval Notice. Please consult with ISSS if you will not be able to adhere to this timeline.

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Employment End Date

You may be employed by UCSC up to, and including, the end date on the I-797 Approval Notice. However, you may not stay in the U.S.A. beyond the end date. While this seems rather contradictory, there are very serious consequences under U.S. regulations for "overstaying" your period of H-1B authorization. Please plan accordingly. See below for information regarding maintaining status while applying for an extension of status.

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Your H-1B Status is Employer and Position Specific

The petition submitted on your behalf is specific to the department, division, position title, duties, salary and location of work to be performed. If you expect any aspect of your job to change, you and/or your hiring department and division must contact ISSS immediately before allowing those changes to go into effect. It may be necessary for ISSS to submit an amended H-1B petition to the USCIS for approval of the changes before they can be implemented. While ISSS expects UCSC departments and divisions to notify ISSS of these changes, it is strongly recommended that you also contact ISSS to be sure the necessary documentation has been submitted.

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Labor Condition Application (LCA) Attestations

When processing your H-1B petition, UCSC promises to abide by certain conditions of your employment according to rules of the U.S. Department of Labor by certifying a Labor Condition Application. Among other items, UCSC certifies that it will pay you the required wage rate, that it will offer you the same working conditions as all other similarly employed workers, that you will receive the same benefits offered to all employees, and that UCSC will pay the reasonable cost of transportation to your last place of foreign residence should the institution choose to terminate your employment prior to the end of the period of your authorized employment. A copy of the LCA was included with the copy of the full petition package given to you after the H-1B petition was approved. If you have any questions regarding the LCA, please contact ischolar@ucsc.edu.

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Working for and/or Receiving Payment from another Employer

Please refer to the Concurrent Employment section.

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Time Limitations in H-1B Status

You are permitted to be in the U.S.A. in H status for a total of six (6) years. This time limitation includes any time you spent in H-4 or any other H status. At the end of six years, you must either change to another immigration status or depart the U.S.A. Once you have remained outside the U.S.A. for at least one year, an employer may obtain a new H-1B approval for you and you may once again enter the U.S.A. to begin another six years.

Please note, that if you are able to prove that you have traveled outside the USA during your H-1B status, then there is a possibility of "re-capturing" time for your initial H-1B six year limit. It is highly recommended that scholars retain copies of all of their I-94s*(front and back) and boarding passes in order to prove time spent outside the U.S.A.

Starting in mid-May 2013, Customs & Border Protection phased out the issuance of physical I-94s at ports of entry in California (land border ports of entry will still issue physical I-94s). Scholars can access their I-94 print-out at https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov/I94. For more information and updates on I-94, please visit the CBP I-94 webpage

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Extensions in H-1B Status

UCSC is permitted to apply for H-1B approval and is able to file extension petitions up until the six year limit has been reached. Periods of employment are dictated by the academic appointment and many factors must be considered by the department and division (time spent in H-1B status previously, funding, and/or time spent in a particular academic title). Requests for extensions should be submitted to ISSS by the department and division four to six months prior to the expiration of the current I-797 Approval Notice.

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If you have a spouse and/or children under the age of 21, they may obtain H-4 visas and enter the U.S.A. with you or at a later date, or they may change status to H-4 as you change status to H-1B within the U.S.A. Children holding H-4 status must apply to change to another lawful immigration status or depart the U.S.A. upon reaching their 21st birthday. Dependents in H-4 status may study full- or part-time, but may not be employed in the U.S.A. in any capacity. There are no exceptions.

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Change of Address

If you move at any point while residing in the U.S.A. in H-1B status, you are required by immigration regulations to notify USCIS of your new address within ten (10) days of moving. Notification must be made on Form AR-11 which can be downloaded from the USCIS website or you can file Form AR-11 electronically. You should keep a copy of the completed and signed form for your records. Additionally, you should notify ISSS of your new address, as well as your department and division.

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Traveling Outside the U.S.A.

Please refer to the Travel Guidelines.

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Copy Your Documents

It is strongly recommended that you make clean, clear photocopies of all of your immigration documents, including the I-797 Approval Notice, your passport, and any I-94* cards that you obtain. Keep these documents in a safe place and part of your permanent records.

Starting in mid-May 2013, Customs & Border Protection phased out the issuance of physical I-94s at ports of entry in California (land border ports of entry will still issue physical I-94s). Scholars can access their I-94 print-out at https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov/I94. For more information and updates on I-94, please visit the CBP I-94 webpage.

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Carrying Your Documents at all Times

Immigration laws require you to carry at least your I-94* card with you at all times. If you choose not to carry the I-94 card on a daily basis, it is strongly recommended that you carry a copy of your I-94 card. For further protection, you should also carry copies of your passport, visa and the entire I-797 Approval Notice. When traveling outside the Santa Cruz area, you should carry the originals of these documents.

Starting in mid-May 2013, Customs & Border Protection phased out the issuance of physical I-94s at ports of entry in California (land border ports of entry will still issue physical I-94s). Scholars can access their I-94 print-out at https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov/I94. For more information and updates on I-94, please visit the CBP I-94 webpage.

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Leaving UCSC to Work for Another Employer

Please refer to the Transfers/Portability section.

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Taking Classes

You are permitted to enroll in individual classes while in H-1B status as long as you continue working in your H-1B position without change. Only part-time incidental study is allowed.

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Legal Representation

All employment-based immigration matters on behalf of UCSC are processed through ISSS. Only ISSS staff are authorized to sign the legal documents and forms required to sponsor international scholars. ISSS processes most nonimmigrant employment-based petitions in-house and the University works with a specific list of "vetted" immigration attorneys on applications for lawful permanent residence. Therefore, neither employees, nor university departments and divisions are authorized to retain outside immigration counsel to represent the international employment needs of the university.

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