USCIS Vermont Service Center clarified some student travel related issues

On September 20, 2010, CIS Vermont Service Center, through its stakeholder conference, clarified many issues, among which, with regard to the inquiry of F-1 students, if H-1B petition has been filed on his /her behalf, and during H-1B pending period, if the student travels outside the USA, whether pending or approved H-1B will result in the denial of reentry, VSC made the following clarifications:

  • In order to travel outside the United States and return, students need to be in possession of a valid student visa. For students participating in post-completion OPT the regulations at 8 CFR 214.2(f)(13)(ii) state that a student who has an unexpired EAD issued for post-completion OPT and who is otherwise admissible may return to the United States to resume employment after a temporary absence.
  • The EAD of an F-1 student covered under a cap-gap extension, however, is considered expired. Consequently, if a student granted a cap-gap extension elects to travel outside the United States during the cap-gap extension period, he or she will not be able to return in F-1 status. The student will need to apply for an H-1B visa at a consular post abroad prior to returning.
  • If it appears that the student is no longer working for the OPT employer, and wishes to enter to travel or vacation until the H1B job begins, the student will likely be denied entry as she or he is no longer in a valid student status.

    If the student is in a valid student status, and has the proper documents, a pending or approved I-129 H-1B petition should not affect his or her ability to travel