The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) published a rule in yesterday’s Federal Register that eases travel documentation requirements for H and L nonimmigrants with pending adjustment of status (I-485) applications. The new rule eliminates the previous requirement that applicants for adjustment of status to permanent residence be in possession of their I-485 receipt upon re-entering the United States in H-1, H-4, L-1, or L-2 status. The amended rule went into effect November 1, 2007.

Prior to yesterday’s amendment, H-1 and L-1 nonimmigrants with pending I-485 adjustment of status applications could travel if they (1) remained eligible for H or L status, (2) were re-entering the U.S. to resume employment with the same H or L employer, and were in possession of a (3) valid H or L visa stamp, (4) a valid passport and (5) their original I-485 receipt.

The amended rule eliminates the last requirement. The new rule allows H-1 and L-1 nonimmigrants with pending adjustment of status applications to travel outside the United States if (1) they remain eligible for H or L status, (2) are re-entering the U.S. to resume employment with the same H or L employer, and are (3) in possession of a valid H or L visa stamp (Canadian Citizen H or L nonimmigrants are not required to possess a visa stamp) and (4) a valid passport. This rule does not apply to persons under exclusion, deportation, or removal proceedings.

H-4 and L-2 dependents may engage in international travel if the spouse or parent H or L visa holder meets the above requirements and the H4 or L2 dependent 1) remains eligible for H-4 or L-2 status and 2) possesses a H-4 or L-2 visa and 3) a valid passport. Please note that H-4 visa holders that obtained an employment authorization card through an I-485 adjustment filing and utilized that card to work would not remain eligible for H-4 status.