H and L Visa Time Limits for Stays in the United States
An individual holding an H-1B nonimmigrant visa who has spent six years in the United States may not seek an extension or change of status, or be readmitted to the United States in either H or L work visa status, unless he or she has resided and been physically outside the United States, except for brief trips, for the immediate prior uninterrupted year. This is also true for the nonimmigrant H visa holder who has spent five years in the United States in a specialized knowledge capacity or seven years in the United States in a managerial or executive capacity.
There are other options available to H-1B visa holders who are nearing the expiration of the six year time limit. Please read more about your options here.
Can I regain time for H or L visa employment spent outside of the U.S. in the past 6 years?
You may have heard sayings or aphorisms such as “don’t try to stop time” or “you can’t turn back the clock,” encouraging people to live in the present and make the most of life. Unfortunately, this holds true for your H or L visa as well, but happily, there are ways to make the most of your time in the U.S. and in some ways, you can “stop the clock” running on your time here.
Depending on the type of employment category, certain H or L visa holders are not subjected to time limits in the U.S. at all. If you are in one of the below categories, you can remain in H or L status indefinitely, subject to no time limits in the United States. To qualify under these categories, you cannot “reside” in the U.S., so you will have to prove that you maintain a separate principal residence outside of the U.S. where you live when you are not employed in the United States.
- Seasonal Employee. For an H-2B visa holder, employment that is traditionally tied to a season of the year and a 'recurring nature' qualifies you as a seasonal employee, and in that capacity, you are not subject to time limits.
- Intermittent Employee. If you are an H or L visa holder, your employment in the United States is considered intermittent if you spend significant amounts of time outside of the United States working for the employer. Intermittent employment is not subject to time limits.
- Employed in the U.S. for six months or less per year. Any employment in the U.S. for six months or less is allowed, and does not count towards any time limit. Work that exceeds six months in time can often be counted as seasonal or intermittent.
- A noncitizen who resides abroad and regularly commutes to the United States to engage in part-time employment is not subject to the time limits otherwise imposed.
If you have questions about extending or regaining time on your H-1B or L-1 visa, please contact our immigration lawyers for a free consultation now.