In October of 2005, the USCIS released a memo titled “Procedures for Calculating Maximum Period of Stay Regarding the Limitations on Admission for H-1B and L-1 Nonimmigrants” that addressed the issue of recapturing time spent outside the United States while on H-1B or L-1 status. According to the memo, “any days spent outside of the United States during the validity period of an H-1B or L-1 petition will not be counted toward the maximum period of stay in the United States in H-1B or L-1 status, provided that the alien is able to submit independent documentary evidence establishing that he or she was in fact physically outside of the United States during the day(s) for which the alien is seeking to“recapture.” In addition, any L-2 dependents of L-1 nonimmigrants are also eligible to recapture any time that the principle alien recaptures.
The maximum period of time an alien can remain in the United States on L-1A or L-1B status is seven years and five years, respectively. Following the expiration of their L-1 status, an alien may not be re-admitted to the United States on another L-1 visa or some other kind of visa unless they have lived outside of the United States for at least one year. However, the law provides that during this time period, only time spent physically in the United States counts towards that maximum. Thus, when an alien requests an extension of their L-1 status, they can also “request that full days spent outside the U.S. during the period of petition validity be recaptured and added back to his or her total maximum period of stay.” A full day in this case is defined as 24 hours and the reason for travel is not relevant to the extension petition. Any trip of at least one 24-hour day outside of the country, for any purpose whether it be business or pleasure, is eligible to be recaptured.
In order to recapture time, the L-1 petitioner and/or beneficiary is required to submit evidence documenting the period of physical presence outside the United States to the USCIS. This is submitted along with an L-1A or L-1B extension petition. An alien will not be granted an extension of stay for periods of time that are not supported by documentary evidence and the USCIS will not send a Request for Evidence (RFE) for any claimed periods unsupported by evidence.
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