The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has streamlined the readmission process for H and L visa holders who have pending adjustment of status applications. The rule removes the requirement that such individuals present a receipt notice for their adjustment of status applications when returning to the U.S. from travel abroad.
The following classifications benefit from this rule:
- H-1 nonimmigrants, including the H-1B classification for "specialty occupation" workers and the H-1C classification for certain registered nurses. H-4 dependents are also eligible.
- L-1 nonimmigrants, including the L-1A classification for certain intracompany transferees who are managers or executives, and the L-1B classification for "specialized knowledge" workers. L-2 dependents are also eligible.
Background - Under old regulations, adjustment of status applicants maintaining H or L status who depart the U.S. would not be considered to have abandoned their applications if they did not obtain advance parole prior to departure. However, upon returning to the U.S., they had to demonstrate to the immigration officer at the port of entry that a) they were still eligible for their particular immigration status and that b) they would resume employment with the same employer for which they had previously been authorized to work as an H-1 or L-1 nonimmigrant. The entering immigrant also had to c) be in possession of a valid nonimmigrant visa and d) the original receipt notice for the application to adjust status, Form I-797, Notice of Action. This last requirement (d) is no longer required, although the other three are.
Reasoning - Recently, the USCIS has experienced a high workload and acknowledges its occasional inability to ensure immediate issuance and mailing of receipt notices. This situation has placed undue burden on certain H and L visa holders who are awaiting receipt notices in order to travel outside of the U.S. while their applications to adjust status are pending. In certain instances, the receipt notices have arrived after immigrants' planned departure date for travel. In such cases, individuals have had to chose between canceling travel plans or risking the denial of their adjustment application upon reentry to the U.S. because they were without a receipt notice. The USCIS removed the receipt notice requirement in order to save certain H and L visa holders from having to make such a difficult decision.
If you're a U.S. visa holder with questions about travel abroad, the attorneys at Harrison Alo, Attorneys at Law, are available to discuss your concerns.