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Can I Use the Unused Portion of My H1B (Also Known as "H1B Recapture")?

Concept of H1b Visa for foreign workers showing wooden letters with US or United states flag as background

Generally, an H1B visa has a limit of six years. The original visa is usually for three years and then an H1B visa holder can apply for an extension to an additional three years. Beyond that, a person must enter the H1B lottery again or find an alternative visa category allowing the person to remain in the United States. However, there is another option if you have not utilized the entire six years of H1B stay. If that is the case, then it is possible to file a petition to "recapture" the unused portion of that six years. Generally, this is called "H1B recapture."

What is the Process?

The form to file is Form I-129 requesting an extension on your stay in the United States. Form I-129 is filed by the H1B employer. Essentially, any time during your six years that was NOT spent in the United States can be recaptured. This can apply to whole blocks of time. So, if you left the United States with two years remaining of your six years, it is possible to file Form I-129 to recapture those "lost" two years. The other conditions for an H1B visa approval must be met.

H1B recapture can also apply to small increments of time. For example, H1B recapture can be used for single days and trips made outside of the United States. The trip must have lasted at least one 24-hour period of time and could have been for any valid reason including business, medical, social, family, or personal reasons. You do not have to document or explain why you were outside of the United States. Recapture in this manner is a particularly useful option for H1B visa holders that were required by their employer to engage in extensive travel outside of the United States.

Documentation is Key

The key to H1B recapture is documentation. To succeed, you MUST be able to document your absences from the United States. If you are seeking to extend your H1B visa stay, call us here at Yekrangi & Associates. We can help make sure the petition is properly filed and sufficiently documented. Contact us at (949) 478-4963 to schedule a consultation. We are located in Irvine, California. Some examples of documentation that you should be keeping and have available include:

  • Pages from your passport showing entry or exit stamps placed there by an official at a port of entry
  • Copies of stamped I-94 cards or print-offs from an electronic I-94
  • Plane ticket stubs
  • Trip itinerary confirmations

The more documentation you can present, the better chance you have of having your H1B recapture approved.

What is the Time Limit for Filing Form I-129 to recapture H1B time?

Under current USCIS regulations, there is no time limit for filing Form I-129 to recapture unused H1B time.

Contact Yekrangi & Associates Today

For more information, contact the Orange County Immigration Attorneys at Yekrangi & Associates today. You are not alone and we will fight for you. Yekrangi & Associates works to meet a higher standard. Our first goal is your satisfaction. Contact us at (949) 478-4963 to schedule a consultation or complete our convenient “Get Your Consultation” form here. We are located in Irvine, California.

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