First of all thank you for all your blogs and videos on immigration. They are very informative and knowledgeable. I follow your views and suggestions on all my immigration work. I also recommend your suggestions to lot of my friends and colleagues. I appreciate your help towards the community.
I have a situation:
I am in my 3rd year of my H-1B status, my I-140 is approved and need to file for my spouse H-4EAD on May 26, but she needs to travel to India for family reasons in August this year.
1) Will that be a Ok for her to travel to India while her H-4 EAD petition is pending?
2) How long will the petition will take to come to a decision (~estimate)?
3) What happens if her H-4 EAD petition gets approved and she is in India? Does she have to go to the US Embassy again?
4) (Being positive but need to think the other sides of a same coin) what happens if her H-4 EAD petition gets denied? Will she be able to retain her H-4 status? Will she able to enter US without any issues?
5) What would you suggest? Will that be ok for her to visit (or) to wait till the decision is made on her H-4 EAD petition?
See clip from Attorney Rajiv S. Khanna's conference call video that addresses this question.
Answer 1. There are two possible situations. If you are already in H-4 status USCIS says you can travel, of course you will need a visa to enter. And if you’re I-765, EAD is approved while you are outside USA no problem but we advice is not to travel is because this can cause you delay. The reason they give for delays is what if they issue an RFE. That is not a problem if you have a lawyer or somebody else helping you they can take care of the RFE or the notice of intent to deny. Or if they schedule you for fingerprinting etc., in an application support center you can always be informed and you can come back. So it looks like if you are already in H-4 status traveling while the I-765 is pending is not a problem. However if you are applying for H-4 status the old law was and still remains if you travel when your change of status application is pending then you are out of luck. Your application is deemed to be abandoned and they will also deny the I-765.
Answer 2. There can be no estimate. What the government has said is if you file for H-4 and EAD at the same time we have by regulations 90 days to adjudicate the I-765 but we will begin the time to run until the H-4 is decided. That’s probably the approach they will take.
Answer 3. That’s not a problem. Visa has nothing to do with the H-4 EAD. She need not go to the embassy.
Answer 4. Absolutely. If the H-4 for some reason is violated or denied EAD has no way of existing. The status can stand by itself or the visa can stand by itself and the EAD denial does not affect it.
Answer 5. I think it is ok to travel. It is up to you if you can avoid travel avoid it by all means if you must travel go ahead and travel.