EXTENDING THE H1B VISA BEYOND SIX YEARS
- Typically, the H1B visa is valid for up to six years (maximum 3-year issuance at any given time, with extensions up to six-year limit)
- For physicians and scientists from countries with visa queues (typically India, China, Philippines, Mexico), it is often necessary to hold the H1B visa beyond six years, as Green Card issuance is often delayed due to per-country limits
- For individuals who do not qualify to extend H1B visa beyond six years, they will need to depart the USA for a period of one year prior to being eligible for another six-year period of stay on H1B visa.
- Fortunately, there are a number of methods to extending the H1B visa beyond the six year limit as noted below (invoking AC21)
AC21 - H1B Extension Beyond Six-Year Limitation
American Competitiveness in the 21st Century Act (AC21) provides two important provisions which provide for the extension of H-1B visas status beyond the 6-year initial limit,
Who is Eligible for H1B Extension Using AC21?
The following individuals are eligible for extension of H1B visa beyond six years for renewable ONE-YEAR time periods (AC 21 106(a))
- Individuals who have filed for PERM labor certification more than ONE YEAR prior to reaching the six year limit
- Individuals who have filed for I-140 Immigrant Visa more than ONE YEAR prior to reaching the six year limit
Please note that extension under this provision may be denied, if any of the following has occurred: the PERM application has been denied or its approval revoked; the I-140 has been denied or approval revoked; and the adjustment of status has been granted or denied.
The following individuals are eligible for extension of H1B visa beyond six years for a THREE-YEAR time period (AC 21 104 (c))
- Individuals with approved I-140 Immigrant Visa Petitions who are presently unable to file for Adjustment of Status due to per country limits
How Many Times May I Use AC21 to Extend My H1B
As long as you remain eligible, you may extend your H1B status unlimited times until green card approval/denial. We presently have a few clients on the 10th or 11th year of H1B visa status.
Can I recapture time periods outside the USA for purposes of H1B visa extension beyond six year initial limit?