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I am an H1B visa holder. My visa stamping is done till this September 2023. My visa extension is already approved and I have my hard copy of the approval. My question is can I travel within USA like I want to travel from Texas to New York for vacation?

I know that if I leave US then upon entry I need to get my visa stamped but to travel within USA in flight, do I need to follow same?

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  • How are you travelling from Texas to New York? Plane, train, bus, automobile, something else?
    – gerrit
    May 5, 2023 at 12:10
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    As noted in the answers,there's no requirement to show evidence of valid status to travel domestically, it would seem the same risks of being within 100 miles of a border apply, Even if you are on the domestic side of an international airport. It's easier to carry evidence of status to a harassing officer than try prove status after you are arrested.
    – Ian W
    May 7, 2023 at 0:59

4 Answers 4

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I believe the existing answer and comment are slightly confused by the terminology used in the question; there is a slightly idiosyncratic vocabulary in common use by H-1B workers in the US. Rather than try to correct this through comments, it seems more efficient to post an answer. Here is a translation of the question, with the modifications in boldface:

I am an H-1B visa holder. My visa is valid until September 2023. My visa extension is already approved and I have my hard copy of the approval. My question is can I travel within USA like I want to travel from Texas to New York for vacation?

I know that if I leave the US then in order to return I need to get a new visa in my passport, but to travel within USA in flight, do I need to follow same?

As noted in the existing answer, you do not. You do not need to maintain a valid visa while you are in the US.

You do, however, need to maintain valid status, as you seem to be aware. Since you're flying from Texas, I have to mention the US Border Patrol internal checkpoints. Border Patrol can check your immigration status at these checkpoints, which are allowed within 100 miles of US borders, so they occur fairly regularly in southern Texas, including at McAllen and Brownsville airports. If you are flying from one of those airports, you should make a point of bringing the hard copy of your approval with you. You should also bring it whenever you travel by road to any point that is within 100 miles of the US-Mexico border.

If you're flying from another airport, it's unlikely that you would be asked about your immigration status, but you might want to bring a copy of the approval for peace of mind.

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    so important -- what law enforcement actually does need not be what we think they ought to do. You should protect yourself as much as possible and avoid being correct while also detained or deported.
    – Mike M
    May 5, 2023 at 10:39
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    Is it better for people with darker skin to simply avoid these airports?
    – user253751
    May 5, 2023 at 18:41
  • @user253751 I don't think skin color matters one bit here. The US has people of every possible color. Yes, there are racial issues, and skin color can be a factor in that (it shouldn't but it is). But when it comes to travel, I don't see how skin color will have anything to do with it. On the other hand, an accent + skin color is an indication (but not a guarantee) that someone may be from another country. Though in the case of the southern border, while the rules (100 miles) and warning are 100% valid, I would expect someone of Hispanic descent (and more importantly, accent) to have far May 5, 2023 at 20:10
  • more to be concerned about than someone from Asia or other parts of the world. But the advice is good (+1) - bring a copy of the relevant documentation with you when traveling. May 5, 2023 at 20:11
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    I want to mention that, legally (INA 264(e)), aliens over 18 in the US are required to have evidence of alien registration with them at all times, even if they are not within 100 miles of the border. Under 8 CFR 264.1(b), for nonimmigrants, the normal evidence of alien registration is an I-94, EAD, or entry stamp on a passport. (In the OP's case, they don't have EAD, and since they did Extension of Stay inside the US, entry stamp would not prove their status, so the I-94 they got as part of the extension approval would be the only document that applies.)
    – user102008
    May 6, 2023 at 22:11
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Internal flights within the US do not involve visa checks or passport stamping. Just bring a valid passport or US driver's license to show TSA.

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    To clarify, you will need your passport for identification. TSA will not look at your immigration status. However, there is a very small possibility that CBP may be checking the citizenship or immigration status of people getting on or off a plane. If that happens, the most you will need to do is show your passport (and extension paperwork, if relevant). You do not need to obtain any new stamps and you will not receive any during an internal trip. May 5, 2023 at 1:45
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    It might be worthwhile to reiterate that there is no requirement for the visa to be valid. Even if OP is checked by an immigration officer in October 2023 without having received a new visa, there is no violation. It is possible to travel within the US by any means, including by air.
    – phoog
    May 5, 2023 at 7:05
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    @phoog without a valid visa you may however be detained and expelled, you're breaking the law.
    – jwenting
    May 5, 2023 at 8:22
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    @xLeitix doesn't prevent police and especially DHS from detaining you without trial for as long as it takes them to be satisfied... Foreigners in the US have notoriously few protections against law enforcement overreach, and foreigners without valid papers (even if temporary) even less so.
    – jwenting
    May 5, 2023 at 10:48
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    @jwenting "without a valid visa you may however be detained and expelled, you're breaking the law": that is purely and simply incorrect. It is not against the law to be in the US with an expired visa. US visas are only for entry. The period of admission granted to an arriving foreigner has nothing to do with the visa's expiration date. For example, you can arrive on the last day of a tourist visa's validity and you will normally be admitted for six months. See e.g. travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/us-visas/…
    – phoog
    May 5, 2023 at 21:15
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You will encounter 3 checks on an internal USA flight:

  • TSA gun/bomb/ "you have a ticket"* check.
  • Boarding pass check by gate agent.
  • Uber driver at destination checking that you are you.

The several States which united to form the USA already agreed on freedom of movement and commerce, so they also agreed on a sort of "super Schengen area" among them. The states entirely defer immigration to the Federal government, and take no role in immigration. Since the USA is also a trade union, there are no customs controls either, except for very minimal health inspections, e.g. California will not allow some seeds, animals and foods, to stop infestations nd invasive species. (Some nitwit seeded a Sierra reservoir with Northern Pike; had that reservoir spilled before this was discovered, it would have wiped out California salmon.)

So, the facilities simply don't exist to check and stamp your passport. There's not a "line" for that in airport layouts.

You will enter via TSA security (gun/knife/bomb check) into the domestic "sterile area" (sterile of guns, knives and bombs) intended for departures, with the wide selection of overpriced restaurants and shops. When your flight lands, you will exit the plane into that exact same domestic sterile area intended for departures. Feel free to stay inside the sterile area for a bit and overpay at a restaurant or shop :)

Notice how that differs from an international arrival, where you are pushed into an austere area with little but immigration.

You exit the sterile area, typically toward baggage claim. It will be a hallway that has a TSA agent posted, but their only job is to make sure nobody tries to enter the sterile area that way. They will ignore you. Their job could be replaced by a mechanical gate/turnstile, but that would confuse travelers and create a jam-up.

Once you go down that hallway, that's it. Welcome to New York, enjoy your stay.

* As such, they check your ID, but mainly to assure the ticket you have is yours. In the 80s, TSA didn't care if you had a ticket. In exploring cities with good public transit to their airport, I would often enter the sterile area and enjoy some of the more exotic restaurants there. I hope we are able to return to that someday.

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  • TSA checks boarding passes and identification documents before admitting travelers to the "gun/bomb" check. Many US airports do not have the facilities to segregate international departures from domestic departures.
    – phoog
    May 7, 2023 at 15:31
  • @phoog Good point about all. Edited. May 7, 2023 at 18:56
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    "Prior to 2001-09-11, TSA didn't care if you had a ticket": prior to 2001-09-11, TSA didn't exist (2001-11-19, in fact). But the sterile area was already limited by then to people with boarding passes and gate passes, at least in some airports. I don't know when that happened, but at some point between 1992 and 1994 I was refused permission to accompany someone to the gate. I don't remember which airport it was.
    – phoog
    May 7, 2023 at 19:06
  • @phoog Oh, I assumed it was 9/11. I was doing that in the 80s and early 90s. May 7, 2023 at 19:17
  • I don't recall any issues with limited access (i.e., must have a ticket) in domestic airports until 9/11. It used to be normal (a) to accompany people when dropping them off, (b) meet them at the gate when picking them up and (c) go deep into the airport for other reasons - public area, no charge (except parking, unless you want to eat at the overpriced restaurants - in which case you might as well just go to a restaurant someplace closer to home), great views of watching planes take off and land, etc. Pretty sure this was all normal until at least 1998, though of course some airports may May 7, 2023 at 19:35
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It's sufficient to have state driver's license or state ID card to travel inside US, which means that visas are not part of TSA job on internal flights.

I have been traveling within US while on expired F1 visa (still legally allowed to stay but visa expired). Not once have I been questioned about visa status on internal flights.

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