When entering the U.S. you are required to fill out a customs declaration. It requires you to select if you are a resident or visitor. Is an H-1B visa holder that is intending to stay in the U.S. and work for several years classified as a resident or a visitor?

There is additionally a question about country of residence on the customs declaration form. Should this be the U.S. or the country that you are coming from (although you are no longer living there for any practical purposes or matters)?

The confusion comes from the fact that H-1B visa holders apparently are not permanent residents at least. But it is not clear if there are other types of "residents", such as "temporary residents" perhaps? The length of the stay, several years, is associated with someone who is a resident.

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    Are you asking about traveling from the US and returning, after having moved to the US previously, our are you asking about moving to the US for the first time in H-1B status? If the latter, your question is off topic and better suited to Expatriates. – phoog Sep 21 '16 at 16:47
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    In any event it seems that the resident exemption is for "returning residents," so the answer is the first time you enter you must enter as a non-resident; on subsequent entries you will enter as a resident. – phoog Sep 21 '16 at 16:55

When I was on H1B I was explicitly told by a border agent that I should consider myself a USA resident for the purposes of customs declarations. Which makes sense, under any reasonable definition of "residence". This of course applies only to a situation in which you physically live in the US while on the H1B.

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  • Suppose you don't actually live in the US though? When I had an H-1B, I didn't... – Berwyn Sep 21 '16 at 15:33
  • Edited. In my case I had a 1-year apartment lease in the USA and was living there. – Eugene O Sep 21 '16 at 15:35

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