H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa that permits a company to hire workers in specialty occupations. The beneficiary (the foreign worker) must have a Bachelor’s degree or higher. You can be granted H-1B status in the U.S. for a maximum of 6 years, L-1A status for up to 7 years, and L-1B status for up to 5 years. Only the time that you spend physically in the U.S. counts towards these maximum periods of stay. This means that the time you spend outside the U.S. while on H-1B or L-1A/L-1B status can be then recaptured. This is a great way to allow you to “extend” your H-1B or L-1A/L-1B status in case you have been travelling while holding the relevant status in the U.S. For example, if you have been outside the U.S. for 3 months every year you held the H-1B status, you could recapture a total of 18 months, meaning you could live and work in the U.S. for an additional 18 months past the 6 year deadline if your recapture petition gets approved.
What time can I recapture?
You can recapture any trip of at least 24-hours outside the U.S. You can only recapture full 24-hour periods you spend outside the U.S., so the day you leave the U.S. and the day you enter the U.S. cannot be recaptured.
Can the H-4 and L-2 dependents recapture the same time as the principal H-1B and L-1 applicants?
Your spouse or children holding either H-4/L-2 status can recapture the same time as you if they are seeking an extension of stay.
How do I recapture the time? What forms do I have to file?
The petitioner (the H-1B employer) will need to file Form I-129, certified Labor Condition Application, and Employment Letter along with other supporting documentation required for an H1B petition. In addition, you will have to submit evidence showing that you were outside the U.S. during the time you are recapturing. You should submit evidence such as your I-94 travel history, plane tickets, and entry/exit stamps.
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