H1B Visa Extension

HomeUS Visa & ImmigrationH1B Visa Extension

Typically, a foreign national is initially granted a 3 year stay on an H-1B visa in the United States. Towards the end of this initial 3-year period, you can apply for an extension of another 3 years. For some H-1B holders, the period of stay can even be extended beyond 6 years under certain circumstances.

Extending Period of Stay Beyond 6 Years on H1B Visa

In specific circumstances, you can apply to extend your valid H-1B visa stay beyond 6 years.
American Competitiveness in the 21st Century Act of 2000 (AC21) and the 21st Century Department of Justice Appropriations Act of 2001 (DOJ Act) allow an H-1B holder’s employer to file incremental one-year extensions annually after the completion of the initial six years on H-1B status.

These conditions include:

  • The applicant’s labor application for an employment-based green card is pending for more than 365 days
  • The applicant’s petition for an I-140 is approved under employment-based green card and AOS/I-485 is pending

Extension in one year increments can continue until a final decision is made in regards to your employment-based green card application.

What Happens to the Status of Dependents in H4 Visa Status?

All dependent family members are also eligible for H-4 visa extension beyond six years along with the primary applicant’s extension. All the applications should be filed together for the family.

It is important to note that maintaining H-4 status continues to be tied to the principal applicant’s H-1B status. This means that your spouse or children (in the H4 status) may only maintain such status as long as you hold an H-1B status.

When to Apply for H-1B Status Extension

It is permissible for an employer to file H-1B extensions after 6 years on H-1B status, even before the Labor Certification Application or I-140 petition has been pending for at least 365 days. The start date requested on an H-1B visa extension must be after the time when the Labor Certification Application or I-140 petition has been pending for over 365 days.


This extension can only be applied for by the employer and not by the individual H-1B holder.

In sections 106 and 104(c) of AC21, Congress provided exemptions to the six-year maximum period of stay rules for certain H-1B aliens. This applies to aliens who were being sponsored by employers for the green card and are facing delays due to backlogs and extended processing times.

Staying in the U.S. After Extension

Even if you are granted extension of your H-1B status, you do not have to stay in the United States. However, it is likely that you will be working in the U.S. when your employer files for such an extension.

Required Documents for H-1B Visa Extension

When applying for an extension of your H-1B status, you’ll want to prepare and file the following documents to support your case:

  • Copy of your passport with original H-1B visa
  • I-797 approval notice
  • Valid I-94 arrival/departure form
  • Resume or CV
  • Evidence of employment (paystubs, letter from employer)
  • University degree and transcripts
  • Letters of recommendations from previous employers

Additionally, your employer will need to file the following:

  • Job offer letter showing your position title, salary, and duties
  • Job description
  • Company’s financial statements, annual report, or business plan
  • Company brochure/information
  • Copy of the Articles of Incorporation, if available

An alternative to extending your H-1B visa status would be to change your status to permanent resident. Learn more about how to change your H-1B status to a green card.



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