I got selected in the US H1B visa pre-registration lottery and now we have to file the final H1B petition to the USCIS. Deadline for the same is June 29th 2021. My question is: Do I need to be present in the US when the final petition is being filed?

Please don't get confused that I want to travel after filling the final petition. I am saying that I will go out before filling the petition and file it when I am outside the US. Is this doable? Are there any other conditions or restrictions to it?

Please feel free to get back to me if you have some questions.

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    I don't understand. Why would your presence in the US be required to submit a petition whose purpose is to obtain authorization for you to travel to the US?
    – phoog
    Commented Apr 5, 2021 at 19:14
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    I don't understand either. If you were already in the US in an appropriate non-immigrant status your employer could request a change of status to H-1B when they filed the I-129 so you could stay in the US. Otherwise they can't and you'll need to visit a consulate for a visa to enter in H-1B status once the I-129 petition is approved.
    – Dennis
    Commented Apr 5, 2021 at 20:08

1 Answer 1


Disclaimer: My understanding may be incomplete. Posting this anyway until a better answer is added.

An initial H-1B petition has to specify either change of status or consular processing, so you need to coordinate this with your employer who files the petition. The two methods have different risks and benefits depending on your current status, travel plans, employment plans, and any anticipated delays in getting a visa.

  • For change of status, the petition should be filed when you're in the US in a valid status and you shouldn't travel out of the US until it's approved. The petition includes evidence of your current valid status. When it's approved by USCIS and you reach the requested start date, your prior status ends and your H-1B status begins. If you travel after it's approved, you have to get an H-1B visa at a US consulate abroad before you return.
  • For consular processing, there is no such travel restriction while USCIS processes the petition. You can be outside the US and/or travel in or out of the US on another status. The petition lists the US consulate where you will apply for an H-1B visa. When it's approved by USCIS, you then have to get the H-1B visa at the US consulate abroad and enter the US with that visa to begin the H-1B status.

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