Immigration Issues/H1 to H4 to H1

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Question
I already have a H1 visa stamped (currently valid and unexpired) but have never traveled on that visa. Now, I am planning to get a H4 stamping based on my spouse's H1b. From my understanding, this means that
--My H1 visa is no longer valid once I get the H4 stamped. Is this right?
--Do I need to get a letter from my employer that I will not be using his H1 when I go for the H4 stamping? Will the visa officer question why I need a H4 instead of using my old H1? Will USCIS revoke the existing H1 petition?
--On reaching US, to change from H4 to H1, I need to apply for a COS. Only after approval, I can start working (unlike normal H1 transfer cases where the employee can make use of the H1 portability rule). Is this right?
--After H4-H1 approval do I need to go abroad, get a visa stamp and re-enter? Or if I get the I797 with the I94 is it enough?
--Is there any time gap required before I can change my status from H4 to H1 again?

Appreciate your guidance!

Answer
Hi Ananth,

Since you can hold only one status at a time in the U.S., your H-1 will no longer be valid if you depart the U.S. and enter on H-4 visa stamp.

The Consulate may write "cancelled" on your existing H-1 visa when you are issued the H-4 visa. You may be asked to provide evidence that you maintained H-1 status in the U.S. earlier (such as pay stubs or W-2) but you do not need a letter from your employer. You can explain to the Consulate that you understand that you will no longer be able to work for your H-1 employer when you enter the U.S. on H-4 visa stamp.

If you want to change status from H-4 to H-1 again, you should request change of status (COS) so that the new H-1 approval notice will have a new I-94 attached granting you change of status to H-1. When you are granted COS, you do not need to go abroad. The H-1 petition must be approved before you can work for the H-1 employer, since the portability rule will not apply.

I recommend waiting for at least 60 days after your entry in H-4 visa status before H-1 petition is filed for you.

Regards,
Ajay K. Arora, Esq.
www.h1b1.com

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Ajay K. Arora

Expertise

I can answer your questions on employment and family-based U.S. Immigration Law. Expertise in various immigration categories includes the following: H-1B, L-1, O-1, PERM (labor certification), EB-1 to EB-3 I-140 employment-based immigrant petitions, family or fiance(e) or spousal sponsorship, visa extension or change of status, adjustment of status, naturalization (citizenship), etc.

Experience

Ajay K. Arora attended Pennsylvania State University and the University of Wales at Swansea (United Kingdom), and earned his law degree at Temple University School of Law, Philadelphia, in 1993. Mr. Arora has practiced Immigration Law since graduation and is a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association since 1995.

Organizations
American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) full member since 1995.

Education/Credentials
Ajay K. Arora attended Pennsylvania State University and the University of Wales at Swansea (United Kingdom), and earned his law degree at Temple University School of Law, Philadelphia, in 1993. Mr. Arora has practiced Immigration Law since graduation and is a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association since 1995.

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