travel visa number esta

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Visa Waiver Program and ESTA application

The Visa Waiver Program allows citizens of participating countries to travel to the U.S. for tourism or business for up to 90 days without a visa.

Find out the requirements for ESTA

If you are a citizen of a country participating in the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), you must meet the eligibility requirements to travel to the U.S. under the program. You will also need authorization through the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) before beginning your trip. Learn about the VWP and ESTA and if your country participates in the program.

How to request a travel authorization to the U.S. through ESTA

If you find out your country participates in the Visa Waiver Program:

Confirm that your passport meets the program requirements. You must have an  electronic passport or “e-Passport”  to participate in the VWP. This type of passport includes a chip.

Complete the  ESTA application  online.

Pay the fees: The total cost is $21. When you apply, you will pay a $4 processing fee. If you are approved to travel to the U.S., you must pay an additional $17 authorization fee.  Learn about the payment options available to pay ESTA fees.

When you complete and submit the form and processing fee, you will get an ESTA application number. Use that number to  check the status of your application . It may take up to 72 hours to find out if you are authorized to travel to the U.S. under the VWP.

Each approved ESTA application is generally valid for two years and allows multiple visits to the U.S. within that period without having to apply for another travel approval. If your passport expires in less than two years, you will receive an ESTA approval valid until the passport's expiration date.

When you travel to the U.S. for tourism or business under the VWP, you may stay up to 90 days per visit.

If you have questions about the ESTA and VWP application process, visit the  U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) FAQ page .

Other travel documents you will need to enter the U.S.

Even if you qualify for the VWP, you will need to bring a passport from your country of citizenship to enter the U.S. Generally, a visitor’s passport must not expire less than six months from the date they plan to exit the U.S. But some countries extend the validity of their passports for an additional six months after expiration. They are known as being part of the “Six Month Club.” Learn which countries are exempt from the six-month passport rule.

When you enter the U.S., officials at your port of entry will issue you a Form I-94W, an electronic record of your entry date. Learn more about I-94W and how to apply.

LAST UPDATED: July 19, 2024

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travel visa number esta

An official website of the United States government

Here’s how you know

travel visa number esta

Official websites use .gov A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS A lock ( Lock A locked padlock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

CBP Seal, U.S. Customs and Border Protection:  U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Links to CBP.gov homepage

  • For International Visitors
  • Electronic System For Travel Authorization
  • FAQs For (VWP) and (ESTA) Program

Frequently Asked Questions about the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) and the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA)

For more information and a larger selection of Frequently Asked Questions, please visit the ESTA website .

General Information on the Visa Waiver Program

What is the visa waiver program.

The Visa Waiver Program (VWP) is administered by DHS and enables eligible citizens or nationals of designated countries to travel to the United States for tourism or business for stays of 90 days or less without first obtaining a visa.

What are the passport requirements to travel under the Visa Waiver Program?

Travel under the VWP is restricted to travelers possessing passports with specified security features. Visa Waiver Program requirements are:

  • The passport must have a machine-readable zone on the biographic page.
  • The passport must be an electronic passport with a digital chip containing biometric information about the passport owner.

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General Information on ESTA

What is the electronic system for travel authorization.

The Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) is an automated system that assists in determining eligibility to travel to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) and whether such travel poses any law enforcement or security risk. Upon completion of an ESTA application, a traveler is notified of his or her eligibility to travel to the United States under the VWP.

Is an ESTA a visa?

No. An approved ESTA is not a visa. It does not meet the legal or regulatory requirements to serve in lieu of a U.S. visa when a visa is required under U.S. law. Individuals who possess a valid visa will still be able to travel to the United States on that visa for the purpose for which it was issued. Individuals traveling on valid visas are not required to apply for ESTA.

ESTA and Data Privacy

How does the u.s. government protect the privacy of esta data and who has access to it.

Information submitted by applicants through the ESTA website is subject to the same strict privacy provisions and controls that have been established for similar traveler screening programs. Access to such information is limited to those with a professional need to know. The website is operated by the U.S. government and employs technology to prevent unauthorized access to the information entered and viewed. Information is protected and governed by U.S. laws and regulations, including but not limited to the Federal Information Security Management Act.

Does DHS use application data for any purpose other than determining eligibility for an ESTA?

DHS uses the application data to screen the individual before granting authorization to travel to the United States under the VWP. As part of this screening process, information that identifies suspected or known violators of the law and other persons of concern will be provided to the appropriate law enforcement, national security and/or counterterrorism agency.

Who Needs to Apply for ESTA

Who is required to apply for esta.

All eligible nationals or citizens of VWP countries who plan to travel to the United States for temporary business or pleasure under VWP are required to receive an authorization through ESTA prior to boarding a U.S.-bound airplane or vessel or presenting themselves for admission  at a United States land border port of entry. The term "United States" refers to the continental United States, Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Guam, the Virgin Islands of the United States, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.

Accompanied and unaccompanied children, regardless of age, are also required to obtain an independent ESTA approval. A third party, such as a relative or travel agent, is permitted to submit an ESTA application on behalf of a VWP traveler.

Do nationals or citizens of countries that participate in the VWP require an ESTA if they are only transiting the United States en route to another country?

Yes. Eligible nationals or citizens of countries that participate in the VWP require either an ESTA or a visa to transit the United States. If a traveler is only planning to transit through the United States en route to another country, when he or she completes the ESTA application, the traveler should enter the words "In Transit" and his or her final destination in the address lines under the heading “Address While In The United States.”

ESTA Implementation Timeline

When can a traveler apply for travel authorization via esta.

At anytime, but preferably as soon as a VWP traveler begins to plan a trip to visit the United States. Travelers may file ESTA applications through the ESTA website.

What happens if a VWP participant travels to the United States after ESTA is mandatory, but somehow does not have an ESTA?

VWP travelers who have not received an ESTA approval may be denied boarding, experience delayed processing, or be denied admission at a U.S. port of entry.

Do VWP travelers arriving in the United States from a non-VWP country need an ESTA?

All VWP travelers arriving by U.S.-bound airplane or vessel, regardless of their country of origination or port of embarkation, require an approved ESTA.

How to Apply for an ESTA

Can a vwp traveler with more than one passport travel to the united states on the passport that was not used when applying for an esta.

No. Each VWP traveler must have an approved ESTA for the passport he or she plans to use for travel to the United States. If travelers acquire a new passport, they must submit a new ESTA application for their new passport.

I have seen other websites that are assisting travelers in applying for their ESTA application. Is there a benefit to using one of these other sites?

No. Use of a private service to apply for travel authorization via ESTA will not expedite approval. Third party websites that provide information about ESTA submit ESTA applications for VWP travelers are not endorsed by, associated with, or affiliated in any way with DHS or the U.S. government.

What information is needed in order to complete the ESTA application?

The traveler must provide, in English, biographical data including name, birth date and passport information. The traveler also must answer VWP eligibility questions regarding communicable diseases, arrests and convictions for certain crimes, past history of visa revocation or deportation and other questions. The traveler will also need their credit card information to pay the associated fees in order to complete the ESTA application.

Do VWP travelers need to bring a paper printout of their ESTA approval to the airport?

No. DHS communicates a traveler’s ESTA status to the carriers. However, DHS recommends that travelers print out the ESTA application response as a record of their ESTA application number to confirm their ESTA status.

Updating Your ESTA

Does a traveler ever need to reapply for travel authorization through esta.

Yes, a new travel authorization via ESTA is required when: (1) the traveler is issued a new passport; (2) the traveler changes his or her name; (3) the traveler changes his or her gender; (4) the traveler’s country of citizenship changes; or (5) the circumstances underlying the traveler’s previous responses to any of the ESTA application questions requiring a “yes” or “no” response have changed.

ESTA approvals are typically granted for a two–year period or until the applicant’s passport expires, whichever is sooner. ESTA provides validity dates upon approval of the application. Therefore, a traveler must apply for a new ESTA when the prior ESTA approval or passport expires. The associated fee will be charged for each new application submitted.

What should a traveler do if the information in his or her passport has changed?

If a traveler’s passport information changes, the individual is required to apply for a new travel authorization through ESTA. A new travel authorization is required if (1) the traveler is issued a new passport; (2) the traveler changes his or her name; (3) the traveler changes his or her gender; (4) the traveler’s country of citizenship changes; or (5) the circumstances underlying the traveler’s previous responses to any of the ESTA application questions requiring a “yes” or “no” response have changed. The associated fee will be charged for each new application submitted.

How can I see the data I entered? Can I print out the information I entered?

The ESTA website will prompt applicants to review the data submitted for the overall application prior to submission. The applicant will be able to print out the entire application and their ESTA status upon completion of the application. Once the browser is closed, the applicant will only be able to print out their ESTA status by retrieving their application. It will not be possible to print the entire application once the browser is closed. DHS recommends that travelers print out the ESTA application response to record their ESTA application number and to confirm their ESTA status.

ESTA Denials

What should a traveler do if he or she is not approved for travel through esta.

If an ESTA application is denied and the traveler wishes to continue with the trip, the traveler will be required to apply for a nonimmigrant visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate. Visit the  State Department  website for more about visa application procedures.

How can a traveler find out the reason an ESTA application was denied?

DHS has carefully developed the ESTA program to ensure that only those individuals who are ineligible to travel to the United States under the VWP or those whose travel would pose a law enforcement or security risk are refused an ESTA. While the ESTA website provides a link to the DHS Travel Redress Inquiry Program (TRIP) website, there are no guarantees that a request for redress through DHS TRIP will resolve the VWP ineligibility that caused an applicant’s ESTA application to be denied.

U.S. Embassies and Consulates are not able to provide details about ESTA denials or resolve the issue that caused the ESTA denial. Embassies and Consulates will process an application for a non-immigrant visa, which, if approved, will be the only way that a traveler whose ESTA application has been denied would be authorized to travel to the U.S.

Do I need to apply for ESTA if...?

I am a citizen (adult or minor) of a vwp country visiting the u.s., if i have a current, valid visa.

Individuals who possess a valid visa will still be able to travel to the United States on that visa for the purpose for which it was issued. Individuals traveling on valid visas are not required to apply for an ESTA authorization.

What to know about the US ESTA 'visa' — when to get it, how to apply and how much it costs

Jordan Waller

If you're traveling to the U.S. any time soon and you're a citizen of the United Kingdom or Europe, it's quite likely that you'll need to apply for an ESTA before you visit.

Short for Electronic System for Travel Authorization, applying for an ESTA might seem daunting if you've never done it before. Don't worry — we have you covered.

Below we break down everything you need to know about applying for an ESTA, from how much it will cost and approval times to when you should renew it and when you need to consider applying for one.

Related: What to know about the ETIAS 'visa' — when to get it, how to apply and how much it will cost

What is the ESTA 'visa'?

An ESTA is an automated part of the Visa Waiver Program that allows visitors from specific countries to visit the U.S. Visitors must be citizens of countries classed as part of the U.S. visa waiver list to be eligible for an ESTA application. Currently, 40 countries are included on the list, including the U.K. and much of Europe.

ESTA holders can visit the U.S. for a period of 90 days or less without the need to apply for a standard visa if their visit is either a vacation or a business trip.

ESTA was initially rolled out by the U.S. in 2008 to allow the Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Customs and Borders Protection to use authorized databases to pre-screen visitors to the country. It also allows the easier identification of terrorists, criminals and banned flyers, and is designed to help prevent such people from entering the country. It can also help identify those who may be a risk for overstaying their visits.

Is an ESTA a visa?

No, an ESTA is not a traditional visa and instead is classed as a visa waiver. As such, the application process is much more straightforward than applying for a traditional visa, and eligible travelers can do so by filling out a short online application on ESTA's official website.

The form requires applicants to share basic personal information, travel history and other simple security questions. Applications are usually processed within 72 hours.

Who needs to apply for an ESTA?

travel visa number esta

You'll need to apply for an ESTA if you are a citizen of a country classed as part of the U.S. visa waiver program, which includes the U.K., Ireland, France, Germany, Italy and Spain, among others. You can view the full list of the 40 eligible countries on the DHS website .

If you are visiting the U.S. from one of these countries as part of a vacation or business trip that is set to last for 90 days or less — and you are arriving by either plane or cruise ship — you can apply for an ESTA.

If you already hold a visa for visiting the U.S., you do not need to also apply for an ESTA. Additionally, if you are only briefly stopping in the U.S. to catch a connecting flight or ship before moving on to your final destination, know that you will still be required to apply for an ESTA, regardless of how brief your stay is.

How much does an ESTA cost?

travel visa number esta

The ESTA application fee is $21; you can pay this fee online after filling out your application form. The fee was increased from $14 in May 2023, and its current pricing will remain in effect until September 2027.

Valid payment methods include:

  • American Express
  • Discover (JCB or Diners Club only)

Your application will not be submitted for approval until your payment has been received.

How do you apply for an ESTA?

travel visa number esta

You can only apply for an ESTA online. Find the official site here .

You will be asked to accept various terms and upload an image of your passport during your application. After uploading an image of your passport, you will also be asked to share your passport information, valid email address and other standard personal details, along with information regarding your upcoming and previous travel history.

If applicable, you may also be required to share details about your employment; aliases or other names; a national ID or personal ID number; your Global Entry, Nexus or Sentri ID number; and the name, addresses or phone number for any U.S. points of contact.

When do I need to apply for an ESTA?

Your ESTA application can be submitted at any time before you travel to the U.S. However, the DHS advises you to apply at least 72 hours before travel to allow time for processing ahead of departure.

How long does an ESTA application take to be approved?

In TPG's experience, an ESTA application can often be approved on the same day you apply, though it can sometimes take up to 72 hours to be processed. We recommend applying at least a week or two before traveling to allow time for the application to be approved.

How long is an ESTA valid for, and will I need to apply for each trip to the US?

Once approved, your ESTA will be valid for two years from the date it was authorized or until the date your passport expires — depending on which comes first. You will not be required to apply for a new ESTA for each subsequent visit to the U.S. as long as any trips fall within the two-year validity period.

If you acquire a new passport or change your name, sex or citizenship after having your ESTA approved, you must submit a new application for approval.

How can I check my ESTA status?

travel visa number esta

If you have applied for an ESTA and want to check its status, you can do so by visiting the ESTA website and selecting "Check ESTA Status."

If you are checking your own application, click "Check Individual Status." You will then be asked to supply either your passport number, date of birth and application number or your country of citizenship and passport issue and expiration dates.

To check the status of a group application, click "Check Group Status." From here, you will be asked to supply your group ID, family name, first (given) name, email and date of birth of your group's point of contact.

You will then be able to see the current status of your ESTA, which will fall into one of three categories:

  • Authorization Approved — meaning your application was successful, and you are authorized to travel to the U.S. under the Visa Waiver Program
  • Travel Not Authorized — meaning your application was unsuccessful, and you're not authorized to travel to the U.S. under the Visa Waiver Program
  • Authorization Pending — Your travel authorization is still under review and should usually be determined within 72 hours

Note that while in most cases you will be fine entering the U.S. once your application is approved, having an ESTA alone does not guarantee admission. Your final entry will be at the discretion of the CBP officer at your destination.

Bottom line

If you are traveling to the U.S. from the U.K. or other countries eligible for the Visa Waiver Program, you must apply for an ESTA at least 72 hours before your departure if you are not already approved.

Your ESTA will cost $21 and will be valid for two years from its authorization date. If you already have an ESTA, it's wise to check its status before any trips to the U.S. to ensure it's still valid.

Related reading:

  • What to know about the ETIAS 'visa' — when to get it, how to apply and how much it will cost
  • Key travel tips you need to know — whether you're a beginner or an expert traveler
  • The best travel credit cards
  • The 18 best places to travel in 2023
  • 6 real-life strategies you can use when your flight is canceled or delayed
  • 8 of the best credit cards for general travel purchases

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DHS/CBP/PIA-007 Electronic System for Travel Authorization

The Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) is an application and screening system used to determine whether citizens and nationals from countries participating in the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) are eligible to travel to the United States. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is publishing this Privacy Impact Assessment (PIA) update for ESTA to provide notice and assess the privacy risks associated with recent enhancements to ESTA, including (1) sharing national identifier numbers received from ESTA applicants with the country that issued the identification numbers, to obtain information about the ESTA applicant as part of the International Biometric Information Sharing (IBIS) Program; and (2) updates to the ESTA mobile application. Recent enhancements to ESTA also include the expanded collection of an applicant’s photograph.  July 2024

DHS/CBP-009 - Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA)

  • Privacy Impact Assessments (PIA)
  • Privacy Impact Assessment (PIA)

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USA ESTA

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What is an ESTA Application Number?

Updated: Aug 24, 2023  | Tags: ESTA Application Number , ESTA Submission

Introduction

An ESTA application number is generated once an application is submitted to Customs and Border Protection (CBP). The application number is a unique identifier used by CBP to identify traveler profiles. The ESTA application number is an alphanumeric string of 16 characters. The sequence of characters is random and does not represent any attributes of an applicant. The application number itself cannot be used to obtain applicant information, however, alongside a passport number and date of birth, it can be used to obtain the status of an existing ESTA application .

What is an ESTA Application Number?

What is the purpose of an ESTA authorization number?

The number digitally links an applicant’s profile, including their passport, personal, travel and other information. The ESTA application number is also used as a traveler’s authorization number when the application is approved. Thus, for approved ESTA applications, the application number and authorization number are same. However in cases where an ESTA is denied, an ESTA application number will not be linked to a successfully authorized ESTA application, instead it will remain in the status of ‘Travel Not Authorized’. The status of an existing ESTA application can only be checked online.

Why is an ESTA Application Number important?

Status Check: You can use this number to check the status of your ESTA application .

Updates: If you need to update non-critical information on your application, such as an address of stay in the U.S., the application number is essential.

Record Keeping: The application number is important for your records, especially if you need to refer back to an approved application when planning future travel to the U.S.

Travel Reference: Airlines and border control agencies may require you to provide this number as part of their procedures to verify your travel authorization.

Applying for a New ESTA: If your ESTA is nearing expiration and you plan to apply again, having the previous application number handy can be helpful to reference, although usually, you'll need to start a new application as the previous submission may no longer be available.

Where can I find the ESTA Application Number?

Your ESTA Application Number can be found in one of three ways:

[1] Initial Confirmation Page: The ESTA Application Number is typically displayed on the confirmation screen immediately after you submit your application.

[2] Email Confirmation: It is also sent to the email address provided during the application process.

[3] PDF Copy: You may have received or saved a digital PDF copy of the confirmation page or email for your records. This page should contain your ESTA Application Number

What to do if you lose your ESTA Application Number

If you lose or forget your ESTA Application Number, you can usually retrieve it by going to the ESTA website and using the "Check Existing Application" or "Retrieve Application Number" feature. You'll need to provide identifying information such as your passport number and birth date.

Always keep your ESTA Application Number confidential and secure to protect your personal information. Keep in mind that guidelines and features can change, so it's good to check the most recent regulations and procedures.

What are the ESTA status’?

There are multiple ESTA status’ which applicants may come across when checking if their ESTA is still valid . If the status is ‘Payment Pending’ this means an application has not yet been submitted to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for processing. Thus, the applicant will need to complete payment for their application to be processed. If an ESTA application is not paid within seven days it will expire and will no longer be accessible and a new application will need to be submitted.

How do I know if my ESTA authorization number is genuine?

You can verify the status of any ESTA authorization received by visiting the check ESTA application status page . If the application status returns as ‘No Application Found’ then no application exists and you will need to apply for ESTA.

An ESTA application number is an important link between your application to enter the U.S. under the Visa Waiver Program, your passport, personal and travel details. Applicants are advised to make a note of their ESTA application numbers to check the status of their authorizations before traveling to the United States.

If you hold a passport from a visa waiver eligible country and wish to obtain an ESTA for tourist, business, medical or transit purposes, get started on your application, otherwise,  visit the FAQ  to learn more about the ESTA

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  • Critical differences between ESTA application and Visa

Visiting the US requires some travel authorization. There are only five countries in the world whose citizens can travel freely to the US. In all other instances, you will need US Visa, or for some travellers, ESTA. There are few similarities and a couple of crucial difference between esta application and Visa. This article will go through the electronic system for travel authorization steps, and we'll look into who needs and how to get US Visitor Visa. Then, we'll show the difference between ESTA applications and Visa.

Who needs Visa, and who needs ESTA to enter the US

Travellers that come to the US require some travel documents. Nationalities of Canada, Israel, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, and Palau can visit the US without an entry permit. But, if the travel by air whey must ask for OK board authorization and pay a fee of $20.

Bahamas, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Canada, Cayman Islands, Tuks, and Caicos Islands, and some Mexicans can travel to the US without a Visa. Most other countries need US Visitor Visa, and 39 countries in Visa Waiver Program can get ESTA travel permits. How long can you stay in the US without a Visa? Travellers that have ESTA travel permits can stay up to 90 days in the US. But let's explore in more detail: What is ESTA?

TRAVELING TO THE UNITED STATES?

Do You Have U.S. ESTA VISA Travel Authorization? If You Have ESTA Application, Check if it is Still Valid!

Electronic system for travel authorization and Visa Waiver Program

The main criterium when we look at the difference between esta application and Visa is security. Countries in Visa Waiver Program are regarded as safer and travellers as less of a threat. That said, other visitors are not automatically perceived as a threat. There are currently 39 countries in Visa Waiver Program.

Who needs ESTA? People who visit the US from that country by air or ship need ESTA. While most world countries require a valid Visa to enter the US, chosen 39 US partners in VWP can get easy and quick online travel authorization. In case you're travelling by air or sea, you must have travel authorization. It would be best to get it in advance because it is valid for two years, and you can easily plan your trip after getting ESTA.

The process itself is relatively straightforward. An online procedure requires you to fill in personal information and answer a series of qualifying questions. You should also give your social media accounts if you had any in the last five years. This information was optional, but from 2020 they are mandatory for ESTA applicants.

When you submit ESTA online , there is a fee that you must pay. If you fill out applications for more people like your entire family, every member requires a fee. All the ESTA application information must be submitted in English. The American administration needs around 72 hours to process the application.

Besides your info like age, gender, address, and social accounts for Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram, there are a couple of other obligatory pieces of information. First, there is a field in the online questionnaire about a point of contact. If you don't have one, you can leave that field as unknown, but you should write down all about the first overnight stay with the address and phone number of a hotel, Airbnb other accommodation. The field you must fill out is an emergency contact. It could be the same as the point of contact, or it could be a person in your home country.

When do I need ESTA? You need it for any travel by air or ship from VWP countries, and you need it on time. However, if you had an emergency and have to fly immediately to the US, you can buy plane tickets, but it is uncertain whether you will get ESTA on time. There is a possibility administration could handle your request quickly. The ESTA status online is always available for you. You will need your unique ESTA application number, your passport number, and the personal information you've used for the application.

With ESTA, you can visit the US an unlimited number of times in two years, but you can be in the country for 90 days in one go. So, let's further explore the difference between esta application and Visa.

Who needs US Visa

Outside of the Visa Waiver Program, pretty much all other countries in the world need a US Visa. Getting a Visa is a lengthy process that includes a visit to the US embassy and an interview with the American administration personnel.

When we talk about US Visa as a travel document, the topic is nonimmigrant Visas. There are broadly three types of US Visa: Visitor Visa, Student or Exchange Visitor Visa, and all other Nonimmigrant Visas. Visa authorities have cited 34 possible reasons and codes for nonimmigrant Visas.

The purpose of your travel determines the type of Visa you will need. Unlike an ESTA permit, Visa doesn't expire with the passport, and you can still travel to the US with a valid Visa and your expired and a new passport.

The significant difference between ESTA and nonimmigrant US Visa is in the process length. While travellers eligible for ESTA permits can get their travel authorization within three days, administrative processing for US Visa takes around 180 days only to get an interview appointment with the consular officer. Also, a one-time fee for the online ESTA procedure is $89.00, while most nonimmigrant visa types have a cost of $160.

There are, however, some advantages for US Visa over ESTA travel authorization. The validity of a nonimmigrant visa can be from one month to a maximum of 10 years. You can visit the US in that period multiple times and with a maximum duration of 6 months in one stay.

How US immigration laws changed over time

Throughout American history, acts and laws changed to tackle immigration issues. The first law was introduced in 1790, and it stated that you could become a US citizen if you were white with good moral character and lived in the US for at least two years.

Some 80 years later, people of African origins got the right to citizenship. The first restrictions came in 1875, banning immigration for criminals, polygamists, prostitutes, and other inappropriate profiles. Among unwanted immigrants, the administration limited migration from China and most Asian countries.

At the turn of the century, most immigrants in the US were not from northern and western Europe. In the 1920s, the US government passed the laws trying to restore favourable immigration patterns favouring north and western Europeans.

The significant change came in 1965 amidst the Civil Rights movement when many factors contributed to the Immigration and Nationality Act. The new law favoured reuniting the family and focus on the skilled workers instead of the country quota system. After the introduction of this act, immigration was dominated by people from Latin America and Asia. Some other changes like the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act legalized millions of illegal immigrants. In the wake of various terrorist threats, new laws focused on tightening admission eligibility.

ESTA eligibility

A thorough background check will uncover all about the applicant's history. People who are not eligible to get ESTA include travellers who were arrested. They don't have to be persecuted or convicted. Travellers with criminal records, contagious diseases, or infectious illnesses are excluded. If you have been deported or overstayed on previous travel authorization, you will also be removed from the ESTA option, and you can try with US Visa.

There are a couple of things to be mindful of. First, ESTA permit travellers must have holding or transit tickets. If you have electronic tickets, you must present a copy of the itinerary when entering the US. Second, for the final destination in Mexico, Canada, Bermuda, or Caribbean Islands, you can proceed only if you are a permanent resident of the goal on the ticket.

Another requirement for an ESTA travel permit states travellers must have a passport valid for at least six months after the planned end of the trip.

Important notes

  • Do not overstay the planned period of stay. ESTA authorization lets travellers stay for up to 90 days in one visit. If you stay even one day over the top, you will be banned for life from Electronic System for Travel Authorization.
  • Things are a bit different and somewhat more forgiving for travellers and holders of US Visa. If you overstay up to 180 days, you will have the opportunity to apply again for Visa, but you will still be ineligible for Visa Waiver Program.
  • For longer overstays in the US, there are different policies. People who overstayed for more than 180 days but less than a year can't re-enter the US for another three years. If you stayed over a year, you would not get the chance to return in the next ten years. There is no time limit for immigrants removed by immigration services and will be banned for life from re-entry.
  • There are some exemptions from the strict immigration rules. For example, people who seek asylum, underaged people, beneficiaries of the Family Unity Program, victims of trafficking, and domestic abuse can be exempt from the bans caused by overstay in the US under the Visa.

How long is ESTA valid?

ESTA permit is valid for two years, and you can come to the US multiple time. However, the maximum length of a single stay is 90 days.

How long is Visa valid?

That depends on the type of Visa you're applying to, but most have a duration between one month and ten years. So, for example, with US Visa, you can visit the US multiple time, and the maximum length of one visit is six months.

What are the critical differences in the application process between ESTA and US Visa?

ESTA is a fast online procedure consisting of a detailed questionnaire, and you can get results within three days. On the other hand, US Visa requires an appointment in the local US embassy, and you can wait for that meeting for almost half a year. Another significant difference is in the fee. ESTA has a one-time $89.00 and US Visa $180 fee.

Can someone else fill out my application?

You can have a third party submit your ESTA and Visa application. However, you should know all the information and have credentials, and for the Visa, you will have to come to the embassy for a meeting in person.

Electronic systems for travel authorization and US Visa have more differences than similarities. ESTA is a speedy and convenient way to get a US entry permit, while the US Visa application process is much lengthier and demanding. It includes a personalized interview with a US embassy officer.

Another significant difference is in the validity and length of stay. You can travel to the US with ESTA for two years and stay up to 90 days at once. With US Visa (depending on the type), you can stay from one month to ten years. If you don't respect the time of stay, you will be banned for life from the ESTA program. The US Visa is, in that case, more forgiving.

Lastly, if you don't get ESTA, you can apply for American Visa. However, this is not the case on the flip side, and only eligible people from Visa Waiver Program can use it.

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What are ESTA Application Numbers?

What are ESTA Authorization Numbers

Once you have submitted your ESTA application form to CBP (Customs and Border Protection) an ESTA application number will be generated. ESTA application numbers are unique and tied to an individual application. They are used by CBP to identify a particular applicant’s profile.

What is the application number comprised of?

The application number generated by the ESTA system consists of a 16-character alphanumeric string. Characters are in a completely random sequence that does not correspond to any specific attributes of the applicant. Having access to the application number will not enable anyone to get access to the applicant’s private information. However, the application number plus that person’s date of birth and his or her passport number can be used to check the status of that particular ESTA application.

How do I get an ESTA application number?

Once you’ve submitted the ESTA application form, you will get an application number. The application number will be sent via email. If your application is approved, this application number will then become your ESTA authorization number.

What is the use of the application number issued to applicants by ESTA?

Once someone’s application has been approved, the application number will become that applicant’s authorization number. The authorization number provides a digital link to the profile of the applicant, including their travel, personal, passport, and other information. For ESTA applications that have been approved, therefore, the authorization and application numbers are exactly the same.

Should an ESTA application be denied though, there will be no link from the application number to an approved ESTA application. It will, instead, stay in the system with the ‘Travel Not Authorized’ status. The only way to check the status of a currently active ESTA application is online.

How many different types of ESTA statuses are there?

When you check whether your ESTA application has been approved or not, you may encounter many different status ‘. If your application status shows as ‘Payment Pending’ it means that no payment has been received yet and that the application has therefore not been forwarded to DHS (Department of Homeland Security) to be processed. You will have to pay the full amount before the application can be processed. If you do not make full payment within a 7-day period after submitting the form, the application will expire. You will no longer be able to access it on the system and you will have to submit a new application.

How can I know whether or not the ESTA authorization number I received is genuine?

This is fairly easy to check. Visit the ESTA application status web page . There you will be able to check the status of the ESTA authorization number you received. If you try to check the application status for that number and the system returns a ‘No Application Found’ message, then there is no such application and you will have to submit a new ESTA application.

For how long is an ESTA application valid?

Once an ESTA application has been approved, it is typically valid for a 2-year period. During this time you are allowed to visit the United States multiple times without the need to apply for a new ESTA. If your ESTA expires while you are in the U.S., it will have no effect on your admissibility or the time duration you will be permitted to stay in the United States. If an ESTA application is not paid for, it will expire within 7 days of the last edit to the application.

The application number generated by the ESTA system when you submit the application form is a vital link between that application to travel to the United States under the VWP (Visa Waiver Program) and your travel, personal, and passport details. It is highly recommended that you make reference of this number so you can later check the status of your ESTA application before boarding a flight or boat to the United States.

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New York City Not just a city – the full American experience. Home to such landmarks as the Statue of Liberty, and Central Park, it’s a melting pot of the cultures that make up each of its boroughs. Cultural richness is seen everywhere, from the architecture that makes up the skyline, to the museum-like subway experience, to the multitude of culinary delights at world-class restaurants. So why visit New York? Because here, in the city that never sleeps, every moment is an adventure waiting to unfold.
Miami Grand Prix Feel the Speed: Formula 1 Crypto.com Miami Grand Prix is Back! For the third consecutive year, adrenaline junkies and racing enthusiasts alike will converge on Miami Gardens for the Formula 1 Grand Prix – a thrilling spectacle set against the backdrop of the iconic Hard Rock Stadium. Hear the roar of the engines and the rush of adrenaline as they race by so close, you'll almost feel the excitement in your bones.
US Open Don’t miss the opportunity to see the greatest tennis stars and starlets in the world. Since its inception in 1881, the US Open has been a beacon of excellence, captivating audiences with thrilling matches and unforgettable moments. As the fourth and final Grand Slam event of the year, it brings together the best players from around the globe for two weeks of heart-pounding action.
Comic-Con International The San Diego pop culture phenomenon: Comic-Con International is unmissable if you’re a cosplay aficionado! Imagination knows no bounds here. From the latest comic books and graphic novels to blockbuster films, hit television shows, and cutting-edge video games, Comic-Con offers something for everyone. Be a part of the action as top creators, artists, and industry professionals converge in San Diego to showcase their latest projects and share insights into the world of pop culture.
Skiing in Colorado If you love winter sports, the picturesque slopes of Colorado are where you want to be. From Vail to Breckenridge to Aspen, every descent is pure exhilaration. With top-notch resorts, world-class amenities, and endless terrain to explore, Colorado promises an unforgettable skiing experience. Start planning your ultimate ski vacation today!
Las Vegas What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas! Come discover this city (another one that never sleeps), that sprung up in the middle of the Mojave desert. Known as the "Entertainment Capital of the World," Las Vegas boasts a kaleidoscope of experiences that cater to every taste and preference. From the iconic Las Vegas Strip and its towering resorts, to the bustling Fremont Street Experience, pulsating with live music and electrifying performances, the city is the ultimate adult playground. 
Disneyland It’s every child’s dream, and the experience of a lifetime! As the brainchild of Walt Disney himself, Disneyland opened its gates on July 17, 1955, marking the dawn of a new era in entertainment. With meticulous attention to detail and boundless creativity, Walt Disney handpicked a team of visionaries to bring his dream to life. With over 757 million visits since its inception, Disneyland stands as the most beloved and iconic theme park in the world. Come see the magic and sparkle of Disneyland for yourself!
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Hawaii is not just gorgeous beaches and peaceful luaus. As a volcanic island territory, it’s the perfect place to immerse yourself in the awe-inspiring wonder of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, a captivating testament to the Earth's dynamic forces located on the Big Island of Hawaii. Established in 1916, this iconic park showcases the raw power and breathtaking beauty of volcanic landscapes unlike anywhere else on the planet.

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Top Democratic donors and operatives say Joe Biden is near exit

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James Fontanella-Khan and Andrew Edgecliffe-Johnson in New York, Alex Rogers , Lauren Fedor and James Politi in Milwaukee and Christopher Grimes in Los Angeles

The stories that matter on money and politics in the race for the White House

Democratic megadonors believe Joe Biden is close to exiting the White House race after they threatened to halt funding for his campaign and party grandees indicated they considered his candidacy untenable.

Donors from Wall Street to Hollywood have in the past three days heaped greater pressure on high-ranking Democrats such as Chuck Schumer, Hakeem Jeffries and Nancy Pelosi to try and persuade Biden to drop out.

One megadonor close to Schumer, who has spoken with people close to the Senate majority leader in recent days, said: “I think it’s going to end very shortly.”

“The pressure is insurmountable,” said a senior Democrat in Washington, predicting that Biden would be “out by Monday”. Other people close to the party leadership said it could happen earlier.

“Biden’s gotten the message that there’s not another dollar of fundraising,” said one Wall Street bundler — a donor tasked with raising money from other backers. “Members of Congress are getting more aggressive . . . He’s just not going to be able to withstand it.”

The moves gained momentum as a damaging split-screen for the president unfolded on national television. Republicans were shown rallying around Donald Trump after an assassination attempt, while Biden defied calls to quit and on Thursday and was seen struggling to climb aboard Air Force One after testing positive for Covid-19.

“Everybody’s looking at the numbers and polls and they’re concerned,” said a person who has held talks with business leaders, donors and senior Democrats, including Jeffries.

But a top Biden adviser on Friday morning insisted the president was staying in the race. “Absolutely the president is in this race,” Jen O’Malley Dillon, chair of Biden’s re-election campaign, told MSNBC.

“Joe Biden is more committed than ever to beat Donald Trump, and we believe on this campaign we are built for the close election that we are in, and we see the path forward,” she said.

Trump’s national lead on Biden has widened since the shooting, according to a new poll from CBS-YouGov , putting the former president five points ahead. Biden has also fallen further behind in most other polls conducted since his disastrous debate performance against Trump last month.

“You simply cannot lead a major party ticket when nearly the entire congressional delegation, most of the donors, and a large majority of base voters believe you should step aside. Especially if the problem is not something that can or will get better,” said the senior Washington Democrat.

Several donors said a campaign to force the president off the Democratic ticket, which seemed to lose some steam as Biden hosted other Nato leaders in Washington last week, was gaining speed. Jon Tester from Montana, who is facing a tough re-election bid, on Thursday became the second Democratic senator to urge Biden to quit the race, while two more House Democrats — Jim Costa from California and Sean Casten from Illinois — have also joined calls for the president to bow out.

“I think it’s happening and it’s largely irreversible,” said Mohsin Meghji, a Democratic donor and head of the restructuring advisory firm M3 Partners.

“There is momentum again,” said one tech industry donor who recently stopped contributing to Biden in favour of Democratic House and Senate candidates.

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Other donors, bundlers and operatives who have spoken to close Biden advisers also said they believed the pressure on the president to end his campaign was now irresistible.

“The walls are closing in on them. I don’t think he can sustain this,” said one veteran Democratic operative. “Even the true believers in the bunker with Biden have to understand that . . . Not one person that I have spoken to since the debate, not one, thinks he can win.”

A West Coast Democratic fundraiser who last week was adamantly opposed to efforts to force out Biden said on Thursday he was now convinced another candidate would have a better chance to beat Trump.

“If it goes the right way it could be the single greatest thing that happens to keep Trump out of the White House.”

A donor said they were among about 20 top Democratic contributors who had received a message from a senior party staffer on Thursday urging the group to go public with new calls for Biden to step down.

“Today is the day” to get Biden to drop out of the race, said the message, which was seen by the Financial Times.

George Krupp, a Boston real estate investor and major Democratic donor who recently came out against Biden’s re-election, said he did not think Biden could hold on. “There is a huge amount of private pressure being exerted by key Democratic politicians, operatives and donors.”

At a press conference in Milwaukee on the sidelines of the Republican National Convention on Thursday, Biden campaign spokesperson Quentin Fulks said Biden was “staying in this race . . . the president is in this race”.

John Lawrence, a former chief of staff to Pelosi, said threats by the donors in the party might be counterproductive in getting Biden to step down. “I know that there’s been a lot of agitation coming from them for the president to drop out and my advice to those groups has been to keep it inside the family.”

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BEIJING, July 15 -- China's National Immigration Administration (NIA) announced on Monday that the country's 144-hour visa-free transit policy has been expanded to three more entry ports, taking the number of ports covered by the policy to 37.

The three new ports are Zhengzhou Xinzheng International Airport in central China's Henan Province, Lijiang Sanyi International Airport in southwest China's Yunnan Province, and the Mohan railway port in Yunnan, the administration said in a statement.

Starting from Monday, eligible foreign nationals can enter China through Zhengzhou aviation port visa-free, with the stay limited within Henan Province. Also, people entering Yunnan visa-free are allowed to stay in more areas of the province. Previously, they could only stay in Kunming whereas now, they can visit nine city or prefecture-level areas including Kunming, Lijiang, Dali and Xishuangbanna, according to the NIA.

The two provinces both boast rich tourist resources.

Henan, where many ancient dynasties had established their capitals, is home to sites of great historical interest including the Shaolin Temple and the Longmen Grottoes.

Yunnan boasts multiple UNESCO World Heritage sites, such as the Old Town of Lijiang and the Hani rice terraces. It is also home to over 20 ethnic groups.

At present, foreign nationals from 54 countries such as the United States, Canada, and Britain are eligible for the 144-hour visa-free policy for purpose of short-term activities such as travel and business visits.

The NIA statement said the expansion of the visa-free policy is expected to provide more choices for foreign nationals traveling and doing business in China.

It said the 72/144-hour visa-free transit policy has played an important role in the country's high-level opening-up, facilitating the exchange of people between China and other countries, and promoting exchanges and cooperation. It pledged to continue to improve and optimize the policy and welcome foreign visitors with a more open mind.

The NIA said earlier this month that China had recorded 14.64 million inbound trips made by foreigners in the first half of this year, up 152.7 percent year on year. Among them, 8.54 million entered China visa-free, accounting for 52 percent of the inbound trips and representing a year-on-year surge of 190.1 percent.

In addition to the expanded visa-free policies, China has also launched a series of other measures to facilitate the entry of foreign nationals and their stay in China, including relaxed visa application requirements and simplified procedures, exemption of border checks for certain transit passengers and more convenient mobile payment for foreigners.

The NIA expects the number of foreigners visiting China to continue to rise in the second half of this year.

As measures are making visits to China increasingly easier, the country has become a popular destination for overseas tourists. With more people posting their travel experiences in China on social media, "China Travel" has become a top trending search term on multiple global social media platforms.

China will continue to embrace the world with open arms, inject new dynamism into the world through its development and create more energy and enthusiasm for people-to-people exchanges, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lin Jian said last week.

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FAQs for Individuals in H-1B Nonimmigrant Status

The following information addresses common questions by individuals in H-1B nonimmigrant status, particularly related to applying for lawful permanent resident (LPR) status, job changes or terminations, international travel, and dependent family members.

For example, did you know:

  • An eligible H-1B worker can change employers as soon as the new employer’s nonfrivolous H-1B petition is properly filed with USCIS.
  • We will not revoke a Form I-140 petition approval solely due to the termination of the petitioner’s business or the employer’s withdrawal, as long as the petition has been approved for at least 180 days or the associated adjustment of status application has been pending for at least 180 days, and the petition approval is not revoked on other grounds. In this scenario, the H-1B worker will retain their priority date.
  • When an H-1B worker’s employment is terminated (either voluntarily or involuntarily), they typically may take one of several actions to remain in a period of authorized stay in the United States beyond 60 days.

The chart below summarizes some common scenarios for H-1B workers. The information in this chart is general and does not capture all relevant details or considerations. Please review the FAQs further below and accompanying links for more specific information.

Q. I am currently in the United States in another nonimmigrant status. Do I have to depart the United States to obtain H-1B nonimmigrant status?

A. Nonimmigrants in the United States who wish to obtain a different nonimmigrant status generally either apply for a change of status with USCIS or, after USCIS approves their benefit request, consular process by applying for a visa in the new classification at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad and then requesting admission to the United States in the new classification.

In general, you may change to H-1B nonimmigrant status without departing the United States. An employer who files an H-1B petition on your behalf can request a change of status on the  Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker . To be eligible to change your status, you must have been lawfully admitted to the United States as a nonimmigrant, your nonimmigrant status must remain valid, you must not have violated the conditions of your status, and you must not have committed any act that would make you ineligible to receive a nonimmigrant benefit. Also, certain nonimmigrant categories are ineligible for a change of status (see  Change My Nonimmigrant Status  for a list).

If you need to depart the United States – for example, if your current nonimmigrant status expires before your employer is able to file Form I-129 requesting a change of status to H-1B classification – you would generally need to apply for and obtain an H-1B visa stamp from a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad and present yourself at a port of entry for admission in H-1B status with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) after the approval of the H-1B petition filed on your behalf. See Requirements to Timely File a Request to Extend Stay or Change Status in the  USCIS Policy Manual .

Q. How long may I remain in the United States in H-1B status?

A. The maximum period of admission for H-1B workers is generally 6 years. However, as detailed below, there are some common exceptions to this limit.

Q. When and how long can I extend my H-1B status beyond 6 years?

A. Your employer may submit  Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker , on your behalf, requesting an H-1B extension beyond 6 years in certain scenarios. For example, your employer may request to extend your H-1B status beyond 6 years if at least 365 days have passed since a  permanent labor certification was filed on your behalf with the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) or since an immigrant visa petition (typically Form I-140), enabling you to apply for lawful permanent residence once a visa is available, was filed on your behalf with USCIS under one of the  employment-based immigrant visa categories . We may grant extensions on this basis in up to 1-year increments.

More commonly, your employer may also request to extend H-1B status beyond 6 years if you are the beneficiary of an approved   Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Workers , in the  first, second, or third preference category and are eligible to be granted lawful permanent resident status, except for the fact that an immigrant visa is not available, as reflected in the  U.S. Department of State Visa Bulletin . Your petitioning employer must demonstrate that the visa is not available as of the date the H-1B extension petition is filed with USCIS, a s determined by your Form I-140 priority date and the relevant visa bulletin chart from the time of filing the H-1B extension request. See the  USCIS Policy Manual for additional information on visa availability. We may grant extensions on this basis in up to 3-year increments.

Additional information about extending H-1B status beyond 6 years, including specific requirements and points at which you are no longer eligible for such extensions, is available on our  H-1B Specialty Occupations page under “Period of Stay.”

Q. Must I presently hold H-1B status to request H-1B status beyond 6 years?

A. You do not have to hold H-1B status at the time you request H-1B status beyond the sixth year. Regulations authorizing H-1B status beyond 6 years apply to individuals who are currently in or previously held H-1B status.

For example, imagine you previously held H-1B status for 6 years but had no basis to timely extend beyond 6 years before your 6 years in H-1B status were reached. You then changed to O-1 status. While in O-1 status, a Form I-140 petition in the first, second, or third preference category was approved on your behalf, but an immigrant visa is not available in the category under which you are adjusting status based on your priority date. Your employer may then file a petition requesting a 3-year period of H-1B status on your behalf. This petition could either request a change of status to H-1B while still in the United States, assuming you are otherwise eligible for a change of status, or consular notification. H-1B petitions approved by USCIS for consular processing are forwarded to the Department of State for review. After review, a U.S. Consulate or Embassy may issue a visa for travel to a United States’ port of entry.

Q. Does my time outside of the United States count towards my 6-year maximum in H-1B status?

A. Only time spent in the United States as an H-1B beneficiary counts towards the 6-year maximum. Time spent outside the United States exceeding 24 hours, commonly referred to as “recapture time” or “remainder time,” does not count towards your 6-year limit, and you are eligible to recapture those periods of time. The burden is on your petitioning employer to request and establish eligibility for recapture time. Documentation of time outside of the United States may include passport stamps, Form I-94 Arrival/Departure Records and travel history from U.S. Customs and Border Protection, airline tickets, and boarding passes, along with an accompanying chart indicating dates outside of the United States. Your petitioning employer may include such documentation to establish your eligibility for recapturing time when they submit an H-1B petition on your behalf.

Q. I only work in H-1B status for short periods of time throughout the year. Does the 6-year maximum duration still apply to me?

There is not a limitation of stay if your employment in the United States is seasonal or intermittent or for a total of 6 months or less per year, or if you do not reside continually in the United States. Your petitioning employer must provide clear and convincing proof that you qualify for such an exception of the 6-year maximum duration. This proof must consist of evidence such as arrival and departure records, copies of tax returns, and records of employment abroad.

Q. When can I begin a new 6-year period of H-1B status?

A. You may be eligible to begin a new period of 6 years in H-1B status if you have been outside of the United States for 1 continuous year, with the exception of brief trips to the United States for business or pleasure.  If you start a new 6-year period of H-1B status you are subject to  H-1B cap limitations  if your employment is cap-subject.

Q. My H-1B status is about to expire. Do I have to leave the United States to extend my H-1B status?

A. In general, you do not have to leave the United States to extend your H-1B status. Your employer can submit an H-1B petition with a request to extend your H-1B status. To be eligible to extend your status, you must have been lawfully admitted to the United States as a nonimmigrant, your nonimmigrant status must remain valid, you must not have violated the conditions of your status, and you must not have committed any act that would make you ineligible to receive a nonimmigrant benefit. See  How Do I Extend My Nonimmigrant Stay in the United States (PDF, 121.18 KB) ?

If the H-1B petition requesting an extension of status on your behalf is filed after the end of your H-1B status period – in other words, if it was not “timely filed” -- then we, in our discretion and under certain conditions, may excuse the failure to timely file if the delay was due to extraordinary circumstances beyond your control. If we approve the late-filed petition to extend status, the approval is effective as of the date of the expiration of your prior H-1B admission period. See the  USCIS Policy Manual .

If we deny the extension of status request, whether it was filed on time or not, you will be considered to have been out of valid status as of the expiration date of your H-1B status that you sought to extend (in other words, your I-94 expiration date). Please see the  USCIS Policy Manual  for more information.

Q. My H-1B status is about to expire but a petition requesting an H-1B extension on my behalf is pending at USCIS. What is my status once my H-1B expires? May I continue to work while the extension request is pending?

If your H-1B expires and a timely-filed non-frivolous H-1B extension request is pending on your behalf, you are in a period of authorized stay – even after your H-1B status expires. Note, however, that an authorized period of stay is not the same as a status. If the petition is seeking extension of the same employment for the same employer, you are authorized to continue employment for a period not to exceed 240 days from the date your H-1B status expired. If we deny the extension request before the 240-day period expires, your employment authorization will automatically terminate when USCIS notifies your petitioning employer of the denial. If the petition is requesting a change in employment or change in employer under H-1B portability, you are authorized to work in the new employment for the entire time the petition is pending at USCIS. If we deny the request, your employment authorization based on portability will automatically terminate when USCIS notifies your petitioning employer of the denial. See “Changing Employers or Employment Terms with the Same Employer (Portability)” in our  H-1B Specialty Occupation webpage.

Q. What happens if my H-1B status expires while I have a pending application to change to another nonimmigrant status?

A. A pending application to change status ( Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker , or  Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status ) does not provide lawful immigration status. However, you may be in an authorized period of stay during the period when a timely filed nonfrivolous application to change status is pending with USCIS. If we approve your timely-filed application to change status, the start date for your new nonimmigrant status is effective on the date of approval. If there is a gap of time between the expiration date of your H-1B status and the start date of your new status, we consider you to have continued to maintain a lawful status as long as you timely filed the change of status (COS) application, we granted the request to change status, and you did not violate any terms and conditions of your H-1B status.

If your request to change status was not filed on time – in other words, if it was not filed before the end of your H-1B status -- then we, in our discretion and under certain conditions, may excuse the failure to timely file if the delay was due to extraordinary circumstances beyond your control. If we approve the late filed change of status application, the change of status takes effect on the approval date. In this scenario, we will consider you to have maintained lawful status during the excused period. See the  USCIS Policy Manual .

If we deny the application to change status, whether it was filed on time or not, you will be considered to have been out of valid status as of the expiration date of your H-1B status (your I-94 expiration date).

Q. What happens if my H-1B status expires and I have an approved compelling circumstances Employment Authorization Document (EAD)?

A. If your H-1B status expires and you have a compelling circumstances EAD, you will be in a period of authorized stay, but you will no longer be maintaining a nonimmigrant status. You generally will not accrue unlawful presence in the United States while the EAD is valid or, if you filed a non-frivolous application for the EAD before the expiration of your H-1B status, while your application was pending.

If you are working in the United States under a compelling circumstances EAD and a nonimmigrant or immigrant petition is filed on your behalf, you would not be eligible to change status, extend status, or adjust status to lawful permanent resident from within the United States. After the petition is approved, you would need to apply for a visa and/or admission from outside the United States to begin working in accordance with that petition.

See additional information at  Employment Authorization in Compelling Circumstances .

Q. I have a controlling interest in a company. Can this company qualify as my petitioning employer to sponsor my H-1B status?

A. A company in which you have a controlling interest – meaning, you own more than 50% or have majority rights – may qualify as your employer and may petition for H-1B status on your behalf. In this scenario you would be both an owner of the petitioning employer and a beneficiary of the petition (a “beneficiary owner”).

Previously, more restrictive requirements on employer-employee relationships between H-1B petitioners and beneficiaries may have resulted in H-1B beneficiary owners being ineligible. However, in 2020 we rescinded the 2010 policy memorandum, “Determining Employer-Employee Relationship for Adjudication of H-1B Petitions, Including Third-Party Site Placements,” which impacted such eligibility. See the  USCIS Policy Memorandum (PDF, 379.71 KB) .

The Oct. 23, 2023, Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM), Modernizing H-1B Requirements, Providing Flexibility in the F-1 Program, and Program Improvements Affecting Other Nonimmigrant Workers,  proposed to codify the ability of beneficiary owners to obtain H-1B status. We continue to consider comments in response to this NPRM. However, beneficiary owners may already be eligible for H-1B status under existing regulations and policies. You must still be coming temporarily to the United States to perform services in a specialty occupation. Additionally, Department of Labor requirements related to labor condition applications, including requirements concerning the appropriate prevailing wage and wage level, still apply.

The United States remains a destination for top talent around the world. Our ability to attract and retain entrepreneurs is essential for spurring innovation, job creation, and new industries and opportunities for all Americans. We encourage entrepreneurs to use the H-1B program, or other appropriate pathways, to live and work in the United States. See  Options for Noncitizen Entrepreneurs to Work in the United States .

Q. I hold H-1B status and have a pending adjustment of status application. If my H-1B expires, will my adjustment of status application be denied?

A. A pending adjustment of status application does not provide lawful status or cure any violation of nonimmigrant visa status. If you file Form I-485 while you are in H-1B status, however, the expiration of that H-1B status while the Form I-485 is pending generally will not make you ineligible for adjustment of status, as long as you do not engage in unauthorized employment or otherwise become inadmissible. See the  USCIS Policy Manual .

Q. I hold H-1B status and have a pending adjustment of status application. If my H-1B expires, may I continue to work and travel?

A. A pending  Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status , does not automatically confer employment authorization and does not serve as a basis for readmission to the United States. However, you may submit applications for employment authorization and advance parole with your Form I-485. If you file  Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization , based on your pending Form I-485, and receive an Employment Authorization Document (EAD), you may use this EAD to work. EADs based on a pending adjustment of status application are unrestricted as to employment type and location. If you file Form I-131, Application for Travel Document , and receive an Advance Parole Document based on your pending Form I-485, you may present your valid Advance Parole Document at a port of entry for reentry to the United States.

The validity period for your EAD will generally be  5 years . If you file both Form I-131 and Form I-765 and USCIS approves both applications, we will generally issue one document which serves as both your EAD and Advance Parole Document (known as a combination card, or combo card). The combo card will be an EAD with the notation “SERVES AS I-512 ADVANCE PAROLE.” (See  Information About Your Immigration Document .) If you do not file the Form I-131 and I-765 together, and/or if we cannot adjudicate both applications together, you will receive separate employment authorization and Advance Parole Documents. In this case, your EAD will indicate “NOT VALID FOR REENTRY TO U.S.” and your Advance Parole Document will be issued separately.

Q. I am an international student on an F-1 visa, currently in a period of optional practical training (OPT). Do I need to obtain H-1B status for my employer to file an immigrant petition on my behalf?

A. As an F-1 student on OPT, you do not have to obtain H-1B status before an immigrant petition is filed on your behalf. In general, nonimmigrants are admitted for a specific temporary period of time and, at the time of admission or extension of stay, must intend to depart the United States at the expiration of their authorized period of admission or extension of stay. See the  USCIS Policy Manual . To be eligible for F-1 classification, a student must intend to depart the United States after their temporary period of stay and have a foreign residence they do not intend to abandon. However, as a student you may be the beneficiary of a pending or approved immigrant petition and still be able to demonstrate an intent to depart. See the  USCIS Policy Manual .

Q. I have an approved immigrant petition and am waiting for a visa number to be available. Why is there such a long wait for a visa number to be available to me?

A. Availability of immigrant visas is subject to statutory limits, and demand for these visas is generally much higher than the limits can accommodate. Statutory constraints on immigrant visa numbers can only be changed by Congress. See  Employment-Based Adjustment of Status FAQs  for additional information.

Q. I have now become a lawful permanent resident. Do any employment restrictions apply to me? What guidance is available?

A. As a lawful permanent resident you are authorized to work for any employer. You may use your Permanent Resident Card (Green Card) for readmission to the United States after travel abroad, though if you are outside of the country for a long duration – generally 1 year or more – you may need to apply for a reentry permit. Note that, depending on the length and circumstances of the trip abroad, the trip may lead to a determination that you have abandoned your lawful permanent resident status. (See the  USCIS Policy Manual ). Additional conditions and requirements apply to those granted conditional permanent resident status, usually granted to those who applied for lawful permanent residence based on marriage or investment. See  After We Grant Your Green Card for more detailed information and resources. 

Q. What is “porting”?

A. There are two kinds of job portability, or “porting,” available based on two different kinds of employer petitions:

H-1B petition portability : Eligible H-1B nonimmigrants may begin working for a new employer as soon as the employer properly files a new H-1B petition (Form I-129) requesting to amend or extend H-1B status with USCIS, without waiting for the petition to be approved. More information about H-1B portability can be found on our  H-1B Specialty Occupations  page.

Immigrant worker petition portability : A worker with an adjustment of status application (Form I-485) that has been pending for at least 180 days with an underlying valid immigrant visa petition (Form I-140) can transfer the underlying immigrant visa petition to a qualifying new offer of employment in the same or similar occupational classification with the same or a new employer. For example, if you move from a software developer position to an information systems manager position, this may be considered a same or similar occupation. More information about this kind of porting (sometimes known as “ INA 204(j)  portability”) can be found in the  USCIS Policy Manual .

If you seek to port to a new offer of employment under INA 204(j), you must submit  Form I-485 Supplement J, Confirmation of Bona Fide Job Offer or Request for Job Portability Under INA Section 204(j) , to document your new job offer and transfer your Form I-140 to the new job offer.

If the Form I-140 is in an employment-based immigrant visa category which does not require a job offer – namely, individuals seeking a  national interest waiver of the job offer requirement or individuals seeking classification as a person of  extraordinary ability – you do not need to request job portability under INA 204(j).

Eligibility for immigrant visa classifications and specific requirements are described in the  USCIS Policy Manual and in the  Employment-Based Adjustment of Status FAQs .

Q. How do I leave my current employer to start working for a new employer while remaining in H-1B status?

A. Under H-1B portability provisions, you may begin working for a new employer as soon as they properly file a non-frivolous H-1B petition on your behalf, or as of the requested start date on the petition, whichever is later. You are not required to wait for the new employer’s H-1B petition to be approved before beginning to work for the new employer, assuming certain conditions are met. For more details about H-1B portability, see our  H-1B Specialty Occupations  page, under “Changing Employers or Employment Terms with the Same Employer (Portability).”

Q. What are my options if my H-1B employment is terminated?

A. When nonimmigrant workers are laid off, they may not be aware of their options and may, in some instances, wrongly assume that they have no option but to leave the country within 60 days.

If your employment is terminated, either voluntarily or involuntarily, you typically may take one of the following actions, if you are eligible, to remain in a period of authorized stay in the United States:

  • File an application for a change of nonimmigrant status;
  • File an application for adjustment of status;
  • File an application for a compelling circumstances Employment Authorization Document; or
  • Be the beneficiary of a nonfrivolous petition to change employer.

If one of these actions occurs within the up to 60-day grace period, your period of authorized stay in the United States can exceed 60 days, even if you lose your previous nonimmigrant status. If you take no action within the grace period, you and your dependents may then need to depart the United States within 60 days, or when your authorized validity period ends, whichever is shorter.

For more detailed information, see our page on  Options for Nonimmigrant Workers Following Termination of Employment .

Q. My employer filed a Form I-140 immigrant worker petition on my behalf. What happens if I leave my job, or if my employer withdraws the Form I-140? Will I retain my priority date? Am I still eligible to adjust status?

A. First, let’s assume that your priority date is not yet current (meaning it is not earlier than the applicable cutoff date in the Visa Bulletin).

Starting from the moment that the Form I-140 filed on your behalf is approved:

  • Your priority date is generally locked in for use in subsequently filed Form I-140 petitions (also known as priority date retention). The only way you can lose your priority date is if the I-140 approval is revoked on certain grounds such as agency error, fraud, or willful misrepresentation of a material fact.
  • If you are otherwise eligible for H-1B status, this I-140 approval may be the basis to extend your H-1B status beyond the general 6-year period of admission limitation, in up to 3-year increments.
  • Your spouse, if in H-4 nonimmigrant status or seeking a change of status to H-4 nonimmigrant status, would be eligible to apply for an Employment Authorization Document.

Within 180 days of the Form I-140 approval, if your employer withdraws the I-140 petition approval that was filed on your behalf, USCIS is obligated to automatically revoke the I-140 approval. You would not lose your priority date , but you would need a new basis in order to extend your H-1B status beyond the general 6-year limitation and ultimately adjust status.

After the Form I-140 filed on your behalf has been approved for at least 180 days, however:

  • Even if your employer withdraws the Form I-140 approval, USCIS would not revoke the I-140 approval for that reason alone. You would continue to have an approved I-140, and would continue to be eligible for H-1B extensions beyond the general 6-year limitation if you are otherwise eligible for H-1B status. USCIS would only revoke the I-140 approval on certain grounds such as agency error, fraud, or misrepresentation of a material fact. You would, however, need a new basis on which to seek adjustment of status.

Next, let’s assume that your priority date becomes current, you have an approved I-140, and you properly file  Form I-485 (the application to adjust status).

  • Once your Form I-485 has been pending for 180 days, you can “port” the offer of employment in the Form I-140 approval to a new job offer (same or different employer) as long as the new job offer is in a “same or similar” occupational classification when compared to the job offer in the Form I-140 petition. The new employer does not have to submit a new I-140 on your behalf, although you would need to file a “ Supplement J ” to request this job portability. (Technically, you can submit a Supplement J to port a pending I-140 even before it’s approved, but this scenario is less common. See the relevant  form instructions (PDF, 323.82 KB) on when you must submit a Supplement J.)

Finally, let’s consider one alternative scenario: More than 365 days have passed since the filing of a  PERM labor certification application or a Form I-140 petition on your behalf:

  • You are eligible to extend your H-1B status beyond the general 6-year limitation, in up to 1-year increments. (As described above, the 3-year increments are only possible with an approved I-140 and a priority date that is not current.)  Thus, even if you are not eligible for the up to 3-year extension because your priority date is current, you may still be eligible for extensions in increments of up to 1 year if at least 365 days have passed since the filing of the PERM labor certification application or Form I-140 petition (or other employment-based immigrant petition, such as Form I-360) on your behalf.
  • Your spouse, if in H-4 nonimmigrant status or seeking a change of status to H-4 nonimmigrant status, would be eligible to apply for an Employment Authorization Document if you have been granted an extension beyond the end of the general 6-year limitation on this basis.

Q. I have an approved Form I-140 but I know I will be waiting a long time for an immigrant visa to become available. Do I need to be the beneficiary of a valid, approved Form I-140 for the whole time I’m waiting?

A. You are not required to be the beneficiary of a valid, approved Form I-140 for the entire time you are waiting for an immigrant visa to become available. Generally, your first approved Form I-140 establishes your priority date. You do need a valid Form I-140 once an immigrant visa becomes available and you file your Form I-485, but it does not need to be the same I-140 that you used to establish your priority date.

In other words, an H-1B worker could establish their priority date with an approved I-140 from Employer A, then use H-1B petition portability to work for a number of other employers who do not file an I-140, and ultimately apply to adjust status based on a second approved I-140 from Employer Z (or use the approved I-140 from Employer A to “port” to a same or similar job offer from Employer Z, if eligible).

Please see the previous Q&A for more details about these scenarios.

Q. I believe my employer has retaliated against me. What protections are available to me?

A. You have a right to be protected from retaliation regardless of your immigration status. Immigration law may provide certain protections to you as an H-1B worker if you report suspected fraud or abuse. Normally, H‑1B workers are not eligible to extend or change their status if they have lost or failed to maintain their H-1B status. However, if they can demonstrate “extraordinary circumstances,” we may use our discretion to excuse this requirement on a case-by-case basis. We may consider a situation to be an instance of “extraordinary circumstances” if you:

  • apply to extend your H-1B status or change your nonimmigrant status,
  • indicate that you faced retaliatory action from your employer because you reported a Labor Condition Application violation,
  • provide credible documentary evidence of such a report and retaliation, and
  • lost or failed to maintain your H-1B status.

For more details, see  Combating Fraud and Abuse in the H-1B Visa Program .

For more general information on worker protections, visit  Worker.gov .

For additional information about protection for noncitizen workers who are involved in labor agency investigations, see  DHS Support of the Enforcement of Labor and Employment Laws .

Q. My employer filed an H-1B petition on my behalf, and it is pending at USCIS. If I travel internationally, will the H-1B petition be affected?

A. Only a beneficiary who is continuing to maintain nonimmigrant status may apply for a change of status. If you depart the United States while a petition requesting a change of status to H-1B is pending, we will consider the change of status request abandoned. If we approve the petition, the approval notice will be issued as a consular notification and will not confer H-1B status. In this scenario, you would generally need to apply for and obtain an H-1B visa stamp from a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad and present yourself for admission to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to obtain H-1B status. See the  U.S. Department of State website for information on the visa application process and the  CBP website for information on travel to the United States.

You must be physically present in the United States at the time your employer files a petition requesting an extension of stay on your behalf. However, departure from the United States while an H-1B petition requesting an extension of stay is pending will generally not serve as a basis to deny the extension request. Your employer may request that USCIS send notification of the H-1B extension approval to the consular office abroad where you will apply for a visa.

Q. I am in the process of applying for lawful permanent resident status while holding H-1B status. Will international travel affect my adjustment of status application?

A. For most adjustment of status applicants, if you depart the United States with a pending  Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status , without first obtaining an advance parole document, we will deny Form I-485 for abandonment. Exceptions to this rule exist for a narrow set of nonimmigrants, including those holding valid H-1B status. An individual in H-1B status who is not under exclusion, deportation, or removal proceedings may travel while Form I-485 is pending without first obtaining an advance parole document if:

  • Upon returning to the United States they remain eligible for H-1B status;
  • They are returning to the United States to resume employment with the same employer for which their H-1B is authorized; and
  • They are in possession of a valid H-1B visa.

Alternatively, an individual in H-1B status who has a pending Form I-485 and who has been granted an Advance Parole Document based on an approved  Form I-131, Application for Travel Document may depart the United States without abandoning their Form I-485 application, so long as they depart and return during the advance parole document’s validity period.

Q. I filed Form I-131 requesting advance parole and Form I-765 requesting employment authorization with my Form I-485. If I leave the United States before the advance parole and employment authorization are issued, will the applications be denied?

A. Departure from the United States generally will not on its own serve as a basis of denial of  Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization . However, if you file Form I-131, Application for Travel Document , requesting an Advance Parole Document and depart the United States without already having an Advance Parole Document that is valid for the entire time you are outside the United States, we will consider your Form I-131 abandoned and will deny that application.

You may be eligible for expedited processing of your applications. We consider expedited processing of Form I-131 if you have a pressing or critical need to travel for an unexpected event, such as the need to obtain medical treatment in a limited time or the death or grave illness of a family member or close friend. Expedited processing of a travel document may also be warranted if you have a pressing or critical need to travel outside the United States for a planned event, such as a work or professional commitment, academic commitment, or personal commitment, but processing times prevent USCIS from issuing the travel document by the planned date of departure. When the need to expedite issuance of a travel document is related to a planned event, we consider whether you timely filed the Form I-131 or timely responded to a request for evidence. A desire to travel solely for vacation generally does not meet the definition of a pressing or critical need to travel. See additional information in the  USCIS Policy Manual and our webpage on  Expedite Requests .

Q. I have an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) based on compelling circumstances and am no longer maintaining H-1B status. Can I travel abroad?

A. An EAD based on compelling circumstances does not serve as a travel document or otherwise provide eligibility for readmission into the United States. However, having an EAD based on compelling circumstances does not prevent you from applying for a nonimmigrant or immigrant visa at a consular post abroad to return to the United States, assuming you are otherwise eligible.

We consider an applicant with a valid EAD based on compelling circumstances to be in a period of authorized stay. In addition, we consider the time during which the EAD application was pending to be a period of authorized stay. Therefore, you generally do not accrue unlawful presence during the validity period of the EAD or during the time that a timely filed non-frivolous application is pending. Departing the United States to apply for a nonimmigrant or immigrant visa at a consular post abroad while working using the compelling circumstances-based EAD will not trigger the unlawful presence grounds of inadmissibility, as long as you are not subject to those grounds of inadmissibility from other circumstances. See additional information at  Employment Authorization in Compelling Circumstances .

Q. Can my H-4 dependent family members work?

A. H-4 dependents are not automatically employment authorized on the basis of their nonimmigrant status. Only H-4 dependents who affirmatively apply for and receive employment authorization from USCIS are authorized to work, and only certain H-4s are eligible for employment authorization. H-4 spouses may file  Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization , if the H-1B worker is the beneficiary of an approved  Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Workers , or has been granted H-1B status beyond 6 years based on 365 days having passed since a labor certification was filed with the Department of Labor or an immigrant visa petition was filed with USCIS on the H-1B worker’s behalf. See Employment Authorization for Certain H-4 Dependent Spouses .

Q. Are my H-4 dependent family members also subject to the 6-year maximum period of stay?

A. Dependent family members’ time in H-4 status is generally limited to the duration of the H-1B worker’s status. If an individual obtains H-1B extensions beyond 6 years, then their H-4 dependent family members are also eligible for extension of H-4 status for that same duration. Time spent in H-4 status does not count towards the 6-year maximum for H-1B status, so an individual who has spent 6 years in H-4 status my still obtain their own H-1B status for a period of 6 years.

Q. I am seeking lawful permanent resident status with my dependent family members, including my H-4 child. What happens when my H-4 child turns 21? Are they still eligible for LPR status?

A. Once your child turns 21 or gets married, they no longer meet the definition of a child under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) and therefore will no longer be eligible for H-4 status.  At this point, to maintain nonimmigrant status your child would need to change to another nonimmigrant status – for example, F-1 or H-1B – for which they independently qualify.

Additionally, they may still be eligible to adjust status or apply for an immigrant visa under the Child Status Protection Act (CSPA), which protects certain beneficiaries from losing eligibility for adjustment of status and immigrant visas due to aging during the immigration process. If your child benefits from the CSPA, they will still lose their H-4 status after turning 21, but they will remain eligible to adjust status as a derivative beneficiary of your own adjustment of status application and immigrant worker petition despite being age 21 or over, assuming otherwise eligible. See the  USCIS Policy Manual for detailed information about CSPA, as well as  Employment-Based Adjustment of Status FAQs (Family Members).

Q. What actions has USCIS taken to support H-1B nonimmigrants seeking to adjust or change status in the United States?

Congress sets the  annual immigrant visa limits . Historically, demand for these visas, regardless of country of origin, is much higher than the annual limits can accommodate.

USCIS has taken several actions to help those who will be waiting a long time for an “immediately available” immigrant visa number, including a 2015 rule that allows certain  spouses of H-1B nonimmigrants  to apply for employment authorization, and a 2016 rule that has  improved job flexibility for H-1B workers and their families.

More recent improvements since 2021 include the following:

Operational improvements

  • Issuing an unprecedented number of  employment-based green cards  in fiscal years 2022 and 2023.
  • Increasing the maximum validity period of Employment Authorization Documents (EADs) to 5 years for adjustment of status applicants and bringing back “combo cards” that provide evidence of both employment authorization and advance parole.
  • Expanding  premium processing to all filers of Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Noncitizen Workers, as well as certain filers of Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, and Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status.
  • Updating policy guidance on  expedite requests , including when USCIS may expedite adjudication of an Application for Travel Document (Form I-131) when an applicant demonstrates a pressing or critical need to leave the United States, whether the need to travel relates to a planned or unplanned event. In addition, the guidance clarifies  expedite requests supported by a government agency .
  • Removing the biometrics fee and appointment requirement for  applicants for a change or extension of nonimmigrant status (Form I-539). When legally permitted or when resources and operational efficiency allow, USCIS may “bundle” the adjudication of derivative applications that are filed together with the associated principal petition. For example, USCIS is currently “bundling” forms I-129 and I-539 for certain classifications, which provides near-contemporaneous adjudication of the derivative form I-539 with the principal Form I-129.
  • Announcing process enhancements for  deferred action requests by workers , including H-1B workers, to support labor and employment agency investigations.
  • Making progress on  reducing processing times (PDF) .

Policy improvements

  • Strengthening the integrity of the H-1B program with a  final rule that created a new beneficiary-centric selection process for the FY 2025 H-1B registration period. This new rule has resulted in dramatically fewer attempts to game the system, as evidenced by  H-1B registration data . In addition, under the new beneficiary-centric selection process, if a worker has multiple legitimate job offers and any of these registrations are selected, then the worker may choose which employer to work for.
  • Updating   policy guidance for international students , including clarification that F and M students must have a foreign residence that they do not intend to abandon, but that such students may be the beneficiary of a permanent labor certification application or immigrant visa petition and may still be able to demonstrate their intention to depart after a temporary period of stay. In addition, the guidance specifies how F students seeking an extension of optional practical training (OPT) based on their degree in a STEM field may be employed by startup companies, as long as the employer adheres to the training plan requirements, remains in good standing with E-Verify, and provides compensation commensurate to that provided to similarly situated U.S. workers, among other requirements.
  • Updating the agency’s interpretation of the Child Status Protection Act to provide  additional protection for child beneficiaries of noncitizen workers from “aging out” of child status and allowing them to seek permanent residence along status with their parents, including clarification of the  “sought to acquire” requirement .
  • Publishing  updated guidance on when a Form I-140 beneficiary may transfer, or “port,” to a new job, providing  clarity to those seeking to change employers during the lengthy process of becoming a lawful permanent resident.

Greater clarity

  • Publishing resources for  nonimmigrant workers following termination of employment , to ensure that nonimmigrant workers who are laid off are aware of options that may permit them to remain in the country past the regular 60 day grace period.
  • Issuing guidance on the eligibility criteria for  compelling circumstances Employment Authorization Documents (EADs). For example, a principal applicant with an approved immigrant visa petition in an oversubscribed visa category or chargeability area, who has lived in the United States for a significant amount of time, could submit evidence such as school or higher education enrollment records, mortgage records, or long-term lease records to support a potential finding of compelling circumstances. Compelling circumstances could include, if, due to job loss, the family may otherwise be forced to sell their home for a loss, pull their children out of school, and relocate to their home country.
  • Individuals of extraordinary ability ( O-1 )
  • Individuals of extraordinary ability and outstanding professors and researchers ( EB-1 )
  • Individuals with advanced degrees or exceptional ability who can self-petition with a National Interest Waiver ( EB-2 NIW )
  • Start-up founders growing their companies in the United States under the  International Entrepreneur Rule .

Meanwhile, the Department of State has launched an  Early Career STEM Research Initiative as part of the J-1 visa program, as well as a  domestic visa renewal pilot program.

We will keep working within our legal authority to provide as much flexibility, predictability, and dignity as possible for all those waiting for their chance to become a lawful permanent resident and ultimately a U.S. citizen.

  • H-1B Specialty Occupations
  • Employment-Based Adjustment of Status FAQs
  • Employment Authorization for Certain H-4 Dependent Spouses .
  • Employment Authorization in Compelling Circumstances
  • Options for Nonimmigrant Workers Following Termination of Employment
  • Options for Noncitizen STEM Professionals to Work in the United States
  • Options for Noncitizen Entrepreneurs to Work in the United States

What we know about CrowdStrike’s update fail that’s causing global outages and travel chaos

Person looking at monitors with overlaid Crowdstrike and Microsoft Windows logos (Image Credits: Bryce Durbin / TechCrunch)

A faulty software update issued by security giant CrowdStrike has resulted in a massive overnight outage that’s affected Windows computers around the world , disrupting businesses, airports, train stations, banks, broadcasters and the healthcare sector.

CrowdStrike said the outage was not caused by a cyberattack, but was the result of a “defect” in a software update for its flagship security product, Falcon Sensor. The defect caused any Windows computers that Falcon is installed on to crash without fully loading.

“The issue has been identified, isolated and a fix has been deployed,” said CrowdStrike in a statement on Friday . Some businesses and organizations are beginning to recover, but many expect the outages to drag on into the weekend or next week given the complexity of the fix. CrowdStrike CEO George Kurtz told NBC News that it may take “some time for some systems that just automatically won’t recover.” In a later tweet , Kurtz apologized for the disruption.

Here’s everything you need to know about the outages.

What happened?

Late Thursday into Friday, reports began to emerge of IT problems wherein Windows computers were getting stuck with the infamous “blue screen of death” — a bright blue error screen with a message that displays when Windows encounters a critical failure, crashes or cannot load.

The outages were first noticed in Australia early on Friday, and reports quickly came in from the rest of Asia and Europe as the regions began their day, as well as the United States.

Within a short time, CrowdStrike confirmed that a software update for Falcon had malfunctioned and was causing Windows computers that had the software installed to crash. Falcon lets CrowdStrike remotely analyze and check for malicious threats and malware on installed computers.

At around the same time, Microsoft reported a significant outage at one of its most used Azure cloud regions covering much of the central United States. A spokesperson for Microsoft told TechCrunch that its outage was unrelated to CrowdStrike’s incident .

Around Friday noon (Eastern time), Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella posted on X saying the company is aware of the CrowdStrike botched update and is “working closely with CrowdStrike and across the industry to provide customers technical guidance and support to safely bring their systems back online.”

What is CrowdStrike and what does Falcon Sensor do?

CrowdStrike, founded in 2011, has quickly grown into a cybersecurity giant. Today the company provides software and services to 29,000 corporate customers, including around half of Fortune 500 companies, 43 out of 50 U.S. states and eight out of the top 10 tech firms, according to its website .

The company’s cybersecurity software, Falcon, is used by enterprises to manage security on millions of computers around the world. These businesses include large corporations, hospitals, transportation hubs and government departments. Most consumer devices do not run Falcon and are unaffected by this outage.

One of the company’s biggest recent claims to fame was when it caught a group of Russian government hackers breaking into the Democratic National Committee ahead of the 2016 U.S. presidential election. CrowdStrike is also known for using memorable animal-themed names for the hacking groups it tracks based on their nationality, such as: Fancy Bear , believed to be part of Russia’s General Staff Main Intelligence Directorate, or GRU; Cozy Bear , believed to be part of Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service, or SVR; Gothic Panda , believed to be a Chinese government group; and Charming Kitten , believed to be an Iranian state-backed group. The company even makes action figures to represent these groups, which it sells as swag .

CrowdStrike is so big it’s one of the sponsors of the Mercedes F1 team , and this year even aired a Super Bowl ad — a first for a cybersecurity company. 

Who are the outages affecting?

Practically anyone who during their everyday life interacts with a computer system running software from CrowdStrike is affected, even if the computer isn’t theirs. 

These devices include the cash registers at grocery stores, departure boards at airports and train stations, school computers, your work-issued laptops and desktops, airport check-in systems, airlines’ own ticketing and scheduling platforms, healthcare networks and many more. Because CrowdStrike’s software is so ubiquitous, the outages are causing chaos around the world in a variety of ways. A single affected Windows computer in a fleet of systems could be enough to disrupt the network. 

TechCrunch reporters around the world are seeing and experiencing outages, including at points of travel, doctors’ offices and online. Early on Friday, the Federal Aviation Administration put in effect a ground stop, effectively grounding flights across the United States, citing the disruption. It looks like so far the national Amtrak rail network is functioning as normal. 

What is the U.S. government doing so far?

Given that the problem stems from a company, there isn’t much that the U.S. federal government can do. According to a pool report, President Biden was briefed on the CrowdStrike outage, and “his team is in touch with CrowdStrike and impacted entities.” That’s in large part because the federal government is a customer of CrowdStrike and also affected.

Several federal agencies are affected by the incident, including the Department of Education , and Social Security Administration, which said Friday that it closed its offices as a result of the outage.

The pool report said Biden’s team is “engaged across the interagency to get sector by sector updates throughout the day and is standing by to provide assistance as needed.” 

In a separate tweet, Homeland Security said it was working with its U.S. cybersecurity agency CISA, CrowdStrike and Microsoft — as well as its federal, state, local and critical infrastructure partners — to “fully assess and address system outages.”

There will no doubt be questions for CrowdStrike (and to some extent Microsoft, whose unrelated outage also caused disruption overnight for its customers) from government and congressional investigators. 

For now, the immediate focus will be on the recovery of affected systems.

How do affected customers fix their Windows computers?

The major problem here is that CrowdStrike’s Falcon Sensor software malfunctioned, causing Windows machines to crash, and there’s no easy way to fix that. 

So far, CrowdStrike has issued a patch, and it has also detailed a workaround that could help affected systems function normally until it has a permanent solution. One option is for users to “reboot the [affected computer] to give it an opportunity to download the reverted channel file,” referring to the fixed file.

In a message to users , CrowdStrike detailed a few steps customers can take, one of which requires physical access to an affected system to remove the defective file. CrowdStrike says users should boot the computer into Safe Mode or Windows Recovery Environment, navigate to the CrowdStrike directory, and delete the faulty file “C-00000291*.sys.”

The wider problem with having to fix the file manually could be a major headache for companies and organizations with large numbers of computers, or Windows-powered servers in datacenters or locations that might be in another region, or an entirely different country.

CISA warns that malicious actors are ‘taking advantage’ of the outage

In a statement on Friday, CISA attributed the outages to the faulty CrowdStrike update and that the issue was not due to a cyberattack. CISA said that it was “working closely with CrowdStrike and federal, state, local, tribal and territorial partners, as well as critical infrastructure and international partners to assess impacts and support remediation efforts.”

CISA did note, however, that it has “observed threat actors taking advantage of this incident for phishing and other malicious activity.” The cybersecurity agency did not provide more specifics, but warned organizations to stay vigilant.

Malicious actors can and will exploit confusion and chaos to carry out cyberattacks on their own. Rachel Tobac, a social engineering expert and founder of cybersecurity firm SocialProof Security, said in a series of posts on X to “verify people are who they say they are before taking sensitive actions.”

“Criminals will attempt to use this IT outage to pretend to be IT to you or you to IT to steal access, passwords, codes, etc.,” Tobac said.

What do we know about misinformation so far?

It’s easy to understand why some might have thought that this outage was a cyberattack. Sudden outages, blue screens at airports, office computers filled with error messages, and chaos and confusion. As you might expect, a fair amount of misinformation is already flying around , even as social media sites incorrectly flag trending topics like “cyberattack.”

Remember to check official sources of news and information, and if something seems too good to be true, it might just well be.

TechCrunch will keep this report updated throughout the day.

TechCrunch’s Ram Iyer contributed reporting.

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