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I am going to be going through the H1B Visa application process, for the next valid date (April 2015). I have heard that it is not advisable to travel to the US for holidays before the visa is actually obtained, as it can hinder the application. As this process isn't going to start for a while, is it likely to cause issues if I was to book a holiday to the US for August/September?

  • What if I've the same situation? I'll have a J1 visa in January, and I want to enter the US with a travel visa (which I already have) just 8 days before the work visa J1 is valid. But I'd like to go to the same state and near my work, just to settle down, get a phone number etc. I've a place to stay. Please see my question: expatriates.stackexchange.com/questions/7462/… – Mathmath Dec 9 '15 at 7:30
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The impression you want to avoid at all cost is that you're starting to work illegally while on a tourist visa, with the intention to use a new H1-B visa to "launder" the operation later on.

In many countries including the USA, a violation of immigration laws (like working on a tourist visa) can throw out any pending visa applications. Sometimes the applicant can even receive a ban from entering new visa applications (typically for a few years).

Obviously, working before receiving the proper the visa is not your intention. Plus, visiting your new country as a tourist in the years leading up to your move is probably not a rare ocurrance. It would be advisable to follow a few guidelines:

  • let the holiday preferably not be in the same state or county as your new job.
  • keep a clear separation in the timeline (summer 2014 -> spring 2015). do not plan more holidays in the months inbetween.
  • keep records of your holidays. bills from hotels and restaurants, car rentals, even Disneyland admission tickets ;) If you ever get in trouble with Immigrations, little things like those may underpin that the purpose of your first trip was indeed touristic.
  • Thanks Freek, that certainly makes clear the reasons, and some good suggestions too. – user14034 May 27 '14 at 13:27
  • What if I've the same situation? I'll have a J1 visa in January, and I want to enter the US with a travel visa (which I already have) just 8 days before the work visa J1 is valid. But I'd like to go to the same state and near my work, just to settle down, get a phone number etc. I've a place to stay. Please see my question: expatriates.stackexchange.com/questions/7462/… – Mathmath Dec 9 '15 at 7:31
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When entering the US always make sure that you can proof that you are entering for a legal reason, e.g. a holiday. Especially on most visas you are not allowed to have an "immigration intent" (exceptions: H1B, L1, O1, ...) . The border officers are required by law to assume that you are (illegally) immigrating and you have to convince them that you are not. For a holiday, having booked a hotel/rental care in advance is good for example. Having a return flight ticket that matches the hotels is good. Having relatives at home is good. Not having giving up on an apartment/house at home is good. But there is not fixed set of factors.

In the end, it comes down to can you convince the officer that you are indeed doing holiday. If you can convince the officer, you are fine. If you cannot do that, you are "out".

An H1B itself, should not be a big factor if at all as it is not an immigration visa. Thus, it is not a signal for an immigration intent. A LPR (Green card) application beyond a certain point is a huge issue because that shows a clear immigration intent.

If you are really doing holiday and can present good evidence to support that, it should be possible to do the holiday.

(IANAL)

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This is not an issue. Moreover, most people applying to H1b next April will visit the US beforehand - for interviews.

Once you got the job offer, you probably don't want to travel to the US until your visa is approved, for the reasons @Freek explained. However, if you're traveling in August/September'14 for a week or two, and only applying in April'15 for H1b to start in October'15 - I don't think anyone would care.

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