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My U.S. work visa is expiring soon, can I keep working if my employer files an extension for me?

Published: 08/02/2022

For certain work visa categories if your employer files an extension before your status expires, you can continue working for up to 240 days while you wait for a decision on the extension. We will discuss those categories and important extension considerations in more detail below
When should my employer file an extension?

As a first step, you should look at your I-94 as opposed to your U.S. visa to determine when an extension needs to be filed. Your U.S. visa is the entry document that you use to enter the United States. Once you have entered the U.S., your status is governed by your I-94. The I-94 is very important, as it is the proof of your legal status in the U.S. The I-94 will not always match the end date of your visa so it is important to check your I-94 every time you enter the U.S. You can check the I-94 at this website. Please note that if you previously received an approval through U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services your most recent I-94 may be found on your I-797A approval notice. The earliest you can file an extension is generally 180 days before your current status expires.

Which visas are eligible for the 240 days of work authorization based on the extension?

Depending on what type of work visa you have, you may be eligible for a 240-day extension of work authorization while you wait for USCIS to adjudicate the petition. Foreign nationals who are working on certain visas may continue to work for the same employer in the same position for up to 240 days while they wait for the extension to be approved.

Some of the visa categories eligible for the 240-day extension are listed below:
  •     E1 treaty trader and E2 treaty investor
  •     H1, H-2A, H-2B, H-3
  •     I visas for information media representatives
  •     J-1 exchange visitors
  •     L-1 intracompany transferees
  •     O-1 extraordinary ability & accompanying O-2 visa holders
  •     P-1, P-2, P3
  •     R religious visitors
  •     TN workers
  •     E-3 workers

What is the impact of filing an extension?

As long as the extension is filed by your employer before your current status expires, you can keep working for the same employer in the same role that was previously approved for up to 240 days while waiting for a decision on the extension. If the extension is denied prior to the 240 days, then the employment authorization automatically terminates on the date of the denial.

Can I travel while the extension is pending?

If your U.S. visa has expired, you will not be able to travel internationally until the petition is approved (Please note there may be some exceptions for brief travel to Canada or Mexico based on automatic revalidation). Once the petition is approved you can take the approval to get a new visa stamp at a U.S. Consulate abroad.  Even if you have a valid U.S. visa, it is generally recommended to avoid traveling internationally while the extension is pending.

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