General Extension Information
H-1B Temporary Workers are eligible for an initial period of up to three years and extensions up to three years duration, for a total of six years of H-1B status. The six years begin when the foreign national scientist acquires H-1B status within the U.S.
There are a few circumstances where H-1B status can be extended beyond 6 years – please
contact DIS if you will be reaching the end of your 6th year in H-1B status and intend to remain at NIH.
- To start the H-1B extension process, your Institute/Center (IC) submits a
renewal case to DIS. The renewal case includes the requested duration of extension and other required documentation for the H-1B petition. All items on the DIS renewal checklist are necessary, even those previously submitted to DIS for a prior H-1B petition.
- After a renewal case is submitted to DIS, it is assigned to an Immigration Specialist. The Immigration Specialist prepares the H-1B petition and provides specific guidance to you and the IC regarding additional documentation, filing fees, international travel, dependent family members, and other related issues. Refer to our
Case Preparation guidance for more information.
- DIS must submit a complete H-1B petition to United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for each extension request.
DIS processing time from the receipt of a complete renewal case to submission to USCIS is 45 business days. USCIS processing times may vary widely. Refer to the
USCIS website for current USCIS processing times. H-1B petitions filed by NIH usually may be submitted with Premium Processing for adjudication in 15 days. See the
USCIS website for additional information. The Immigration Specialist assigned to the case will work with you and the IC on this option as needed.
Renewals should be discussed within the IC
at least eight months before the current H-1B status end date. This allows time for IC approval process and case submission to DIS, DIS processing, and H-1B petition submission to USCIS.
Extensions can be submitted to USCIS as early as six months before the current status expires. Extensions must be submitted to USCIS before the expiration of the most recent I-94 record, so timely case submission to DIS is essential. As expanded on below, final USCIS approval of the extension may occur after your current H-1B expiration date.
240 Day Work Authorization
After DIS submits the H-1B extension petition to USCIS, as an H-1B employee, you may continue to work up to 240 days beyond the current H-1B status end date while the extension is pending at USCIS. DIS issues a Notice of Action for the 240-day period.
If international travel is required while the H-1B extension petition is pending at USCIS, contact your assigned Immigration Specialist for guidance.
In rare cases, the extension petition may not be adjudicated by USCIS before the end of the 240-day period. If this occurs, the assigned Immigration Specialist will advise on options available to maintain work authorization.
Final Approval by USCIS
Following H-1B petition approval by USCIS, DIS issues a new NOA for the full approved extension period. DIS will issue the original USCIS approval notice reflecting the new H-1B status end date to you. Refer to our
Maintaining H-1B Status webpage for more information.