In a significant development, the USCIS has ruled that time spent in H-4 or L-2 classification does not count against the maximum allowable period of stay in H-1B and L-1 status.

USCIS Memo of Admission H_L

This memorandum provides guidance in three areas regarding how adjudicators should determine periods of admissions for an alien. Specifically, this memorandum:


  • It clarifies that time spent as an H-4 and L-2 dependent does not count against the maximum allowable periods of stay available to principals in H-1B and L-1 status.
  • Clarifies that H-1B aliens, who qualify under American Competitiveness in the Twenty-First Century Act of 2000 (AC21) (Pub.L.106-313) section 106(a) and (c), need not be in H-1B status when requesting an additional period of stay beyond the six year maximum.
  • Clarifies how to determine the maximum period of admission in H-1B status for a beneficiary who was in the United States in valid H-1B status for less than the six-yea maximum period of admission, but who has since been outside the United States for more than one year.

An alien seeking H-1B or L-1 status (or corresponding derivative status) in light of these clarifications still must meet all of the substantive requirements for those classifications and is subject to the normal rules concerning maintenance of status.