F1 or H4 travels while H1 pending, return before H1 start date of Oct. 1

Question: I am currently on an H4 and have applied for an H1 to start October 1. If I travel outside the U.S. and return before October 1, will I be on my H4 ? What happens if I return on my H4 after October 1? Will I have H1 or H4 status?

Answer: Assoc. Director Efren Hernandez wrote a Memorandum clarifying visa options while traveling when a person has applied for a change of status. This is called the “leapfrog principle.”

  • If you remain in the U.S. – your status changes to H1 on October 1.
  • If your H1 is approved before you travel and you return before H1 start date – status changes to H1 on October 1.
  • If you do not want to change status to a H1, you can return after October 1 on your H4.


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