I have a question that I haven’t been able to find the answer to. I am currently on OPT, which ends in August, and my petition was chosen in the lottery. If it gets approved, I’d change my status from F-1 to H-1b on October 1st. The visa in the my passport, however, is still the F-1. Is it true that I have to go for visa stamping in my home country before I can travel abroad to other countries? Let’s say that I want to go to Mexico in November. Would I be able to re-enter the U.S. or do I have to go back to Germany (my home country) for my visa interview before?
(Note: I am not a lawyer. Preferably ask the lawyer who filed your H1B before travelling.)
If you specifically want to visit Mexico (or Canada) for less than thirty days, you don't need a visa stamp to return to the US. Source: [http://www.internationalcenter.umich.edu/immig/h1bvisa/h1b_travel.html](http://www.internationalcenter.umich.edu/immig/h1bvisa/h1b_travel.html) The “automatic extension of validity” provision allows most H-1B workers to reenter to the U.S. without a valid H-1B visa stamp after a trip to either Canada or Mexico that lasts no more than 30 days. Automatic revalidation is not applicable to nationals of countries identified by the U.S. as state sponsors of terrorism. For a list of these countries, go to [http://www.state.gov/j/ct/list/c14151.htm](http://www.state.gov/j/ct/list/c14151.htm). While F and J nonimmigrants can use automatic revalidation to re-enter the United States after trips to the Caribbean, H-1B workers cannot. H-1B travel under this provision is limited to Canada and Mexico. To take advantage of this provision, the following must be true: The visit to Canada or Mexico is for 30 days or less. Your passport must be valid for at least six months from your date of re-entry to the U.S. You must possess your I-94 card, which shows an unexpired period of initial admission or extension of stay. You must possess your H-1B approval notice (bottom left side of I-797). You must apply for readmission within the authorized period of initial admission/extension of stay. You must have maintained and intend to resume your nonimmigrant status. You did not apply for a new visa stamp while in Canada or Mexico. Please remember when exiting the U.S. that you should not surrender your I-94 card; you will need it to re-enter under the provisions of automatic revalidation. Note that automatic revalidation applies only when re-entering the United States. You may need to obtain a Canadian or Mexican visa stamp to enter Canada or Mexico. [b]NOTE:[/b] Any non-immigrant who applies for a new H-1B visa in Canada or Mexico and is refused a new H-1B visa, or has an application for a new H-1B visa [b]pending[/b], will [b]not[/b] be able to re-enter the United States. When applying for a visa stamp in any country, there is always a risk of being delayed for security clearance. Source: 22 CFR 41.112 (d); Amended and revised 67FR 10322; adopted as final rule, 68 FR 49351 (8/18/03)
Note if you leave the US before your H1-B is approved, your change of status will be abandoned and you’ll have to get a visa stamp.
You become eligible for cap-gap. This allows you to stay and work in US until Oct 1 (which is when H-1 COS will go into effect) or H-1 denial date, whichever is earlier.
Just let your DSO know about the selection in the cap, and he will update the SEVIS record accordingly (it should have automatically got update).