This question isn't about flying/travelling with an expiring passport but about applying for a H1B visa when the applicant's passport has only 4 more months of validity. Will this cause a problem?

The applicant is already in the US with a Master's degree from a US University and a sponsor all lined up. Unfortunately we've realized this problem with the expiration a little too close to the April 1 visa application deadline to get the passport renewed in time. We are already doing all we can to get the passport renewed but it's not likely to happen by April 1 so what's the best line of action here? The applicant is Nigerian.

  • This belongs in Expatriates. I suppose that they might consider the application and grant the new H-1B status until the passport date, whereafter the applicant could file a second application to extend status once the new passport is available. I have no idea whether that's likely to succeed or not. – phoog Mar 12 '18 at 22:23

It's not clear to me what you are asking about. You ask about applying for "visa" but you also say "This question isn't about flying/travelling". But a US visa is solely for entering the US. You would only need a "visa" if you are entering the US. You don't need a valid visa or a valid passport to stay in the US. Your ability to stay in the US is governed by your status. Since you say that the applicant is already in the US, they wouldn't need a visa unless they left the US and needed to re-enter.

Maybe you are using the terminology loosely and what you really mean is the person is applying for Change of Status to H1b (from another nonimmigrant status) or Extension of Status for H1b (from an existing H1b status with another employer) in the US without leaving the US. From what I know, USCIS does not limit the validity of the I-94 granted for Change of Status or Extension of Status to the expiration date of the passport -- if USCIS approves the Change of Status or Extension of Status, they always grant an I-94 up to the usual period of admission for the status (for H1b, up to the expiration of the H1b petition), even if your passport expires soon.

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  • With regard to your second paragraph, the relevant USCIS guide says "Please note: Your passport must be valid for your entire requested period of stay in the new nonimmigrant classification in the United States." Is the guide incorrect, or, perhaps more likely, insufficiently precise? – phoog Mar 13 '18 at 0:10
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    @phoog: Well the guide doesn't say that the passport must be valid for the entire period at the time of application :) , so it can be read as just needing to make sure to maintain a valid passport later during the period of stay. Though I wouldn't give much weight to these guides. – user102008 Mar 13 '18 at 18:01
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    @phoog: The AFM chapters on Change of Status and Extension of Status do say that "The applicant must hold a valid passport at the time of application and is required to maintain validity during the entire period of his or her stay in the United States." which supports the view that the passport only has to be valid, and not for a particular length, at the time of application. – user102008 Mar 13 '18 at 18:01
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    @phoog: In any case, in practice, I have seen many reports of people getting COS/EOS I-94s that match the petition expiration even when their passports were expiring sooner, and I have never heard of someone getting COS/EOS I-94s that are limited by the passport expiration, so at least that's how USCIS handles it in practice. In fact, many times people are surprised that they get COS/EOS I-94s that match petition expiration, but when they leave and re-enter the US, they get I-94 at entry that expires earlier due to passport expiration, because CBP is required to limit I-94 by passport expiry. – user102008 Mar 13 '18 at 18:05
  • Thanks for clarifying. I have a related question which I have asked here: US nonimmigrant: passport expiration while in the US. – phoog Mar 13 '18 at 18:59

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