Extend H-1B Stay by Recapturing Time Spent Outside the U.S.

Extend H-1B Stay by Recapturing Time Spent Outside the U.S.
July 12, 2023

According to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), H-1B visa holders may initially stay in the U.S. for up to three years. They may also include one three-year extension. As a result, these visa holders may stay in the U.S. for six years.

However, they could extend this stay using the H-1B visa recapture rule. This recapture rule allows H-1B visa holders to spend time outside the U.S. and extend their maximum stay. According to the USCIS, the six-year maximum only counts the time spent in the United States. 

As such, individuals who spent time outside the U.S. within the six years could reclaim that time to extend their visa. Furthermore, the rule does not require visa holders to explain why they left. The time will not count toward the six-year limit as long as the individual spends at least 24 hours outside the United States. 

This rule also allows the visa holder’s spouse and children to extend their status by the same time spent outside of the United States. As a result, families can leave the U.S. without worrying about leaving someone behind or getting separated. This permission also means the USCIS does not require an explanation from spouses and children.

However, this recaptured time does not automatically apply. Any individuals using this rule must request to reclaim the time on their visa. As such, they must prepare the following documentation when applying for the recapture:

  • Copies of Passport Stamps from the Port of Entry;
  • Copies of Passport Stamps related to the country of residence;
  • I-94 Cards (Arrival/Departure Records), either physical or electronic;
  • A chart showing the time spent outside of the United States, along with documentation for evidence; and
  • Boarding passes and/or Airline Tickets

Individuals hoping to use this rule must document their time outside the United States. They cannot recapture the time without it, allowing the USCIS to count it to the visa’s stay. The USCIS will notify individuals of times recaptured and times that need more information. 

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