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How far in advance can I file an H-1B extension?

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The maximum amount of time you can spend in the U.S. on H-1B status is 6 years and you can request an approval for 3 years at a time. This blog post will go over how long in advance your employer should file the H-1B extension, given the current long USCIS processing timelines.

What is an H-1B visa?

H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa that permits a company to hire workers in specialty occupations.  This visa category requires that the beneficiary (the foreign worker) have a bachelor’s degree, and the petitioner (the U.S. company) can employ the worker for up to six years

Example

It’s October 2021 and your H1b status is expiring on August 1, 2022 and you are wondering when you and the employer should start the H-1B renewal process and how long in advance the employer can file the H-B petition given the current processing times.

Your H-1B employer can generally file the renewal petition 6 months before your new start date. In the scenario above, the new start date would generally be August 2, 2022 so the earliest filing date would be February 2, 2022. The regulations indicate that the H-1B petition “may not be filed or earlier than six months before the date of actual need for the beneficiary’s services or training.” In this scenario, you could request the approval dates as August 2, 2022 – August 1, 2025.

The question then arises: could you request an earlier start date in your renewal petition (e.g. June 1, 2022) so you could submit the petition earlier? The answer is yes, but there is a little to no benefit of doing so. By requesting an earlier start date, your end date will also be limited to an earlier date (May 31, 2022), so you would loose some time in your H-1B status.

Therefore, we do generally recommend to request a start date immediately after your current H-1B status expires and file the extension petition 6 months before that date.

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