Immigration and border authorities around the world are suddenly and rapidly eliminating the use of admission and departure stamps into passports of foreign nationals visiting their countries, including the United States. The United States, in particular, has recently implemented a program, starting this year, whereby border officials will no longer stamp the passport of foreign nationals when they enter the country. This seemingly small change has significant implications for individuals on work visas, particularly those on H-1, L-1, and R-1 visas, who often need these stamps as primary evidence to maximize their visa validity.
Admission Stamps as Primary Evidence
When applications are submitted to maximize an individual’s H, L, or R visa status in the United States, the stamps placed on their passports are considered “primary evidence” to support the times they have left and returned to the United States.
Under U.S. law, H-1, L-1, and R-1 visa holders have a maximum limit for the time they can spend in the U.S. However, if they travel outside of the U.S. during the validity of their visa, the time spent outside of the country is extended by the duration of their absence.
Understanding Recapture to Extend Visa Validity
So, how does this recapture process work? Consider the example of an H-1B visa, which grants visa holders a maximum of six years in the United States. If an H-1B holder leaves the country for work or personal reasons, say for six months, then six months are added to the end date of their visa status as long as the proper applications and evidence are submitted.
Unfortunately, the thinning out of the stamp system is making it increasingly challenging for individuals to provide concrete evidence of their time spent outside of the United States. We must look to alternative methods of verifying time in and out of the country.
Alternative Evidence of Time Outside of the United States
In light of this change, we find ourselves in a situation where primary evidence to document when a person leaves the U.S. and arrives in another country is no longer available or as consistent. As a result, we work with our clients to take proactive measures.
We are advising clients to download copies of their I-94s whenever they enter the United States, as well as your travel record from the same website to show departures from the U.S. Additionally, it is important to keep copies of all boarding passes as evidence of travel in and out of the country. This information is essential when completing both nonimmigrant visa applications (Form DS-160) and immigrant visa applications (Form DS-260).
Contact Valvo & Associates to Get the Most Out of Your Visa
Navigating these simple yet unfortunate changes to the U.S. immigration system is a daunting task, especially with recent changes affecting the availability of admission and departure stamps. At Valvo & Associates, we understand the complexities of the immigration system and work diligently with our clients to maximize the benefits of their visas.
Our experienced team is here to help you adapt to these changes and ensure your visa is maximized as it should be despite the lack of a consistent stamping system. Contact us today to explore your options to establish and extend your status within the United States.