After getting USCIS’s visa approval you ought to wait for the U.S. government to endorse your visa through stamp. To ensure you get a smooth entry into the U.S., going through the H-1B visa stamping process is mandatory, otherwise, you’ll be sent back from the airport itself if the officials at security checks discover the lack of H-1B visa stamp.
H-1B visa stamping is the final and inevitable step to guarantee entry into the U.S. This process involves certain procedures to get an H-1B visa stamp such as interview, forms, photos, and other relevant documents.
As you seek a valid authorization, in this blog, we’ll be guiding you through the step-by-step process to get H-1B visa stamp along with the necessary information relevant to the process. Let’s begin.
Table of contents
When to Apply for H-1B Visa Stamping?
Notably, the H-1B visa stamp application process has specific eligibility periods. Too early or too late application may lead you to a dark hole where you may not receive your visa stamp on time or at all. To confirm your application being done within the eligibility period, it’s advisable to consult with an immigration attorney. They can help you determine the exact dates you’re eligible to apply, based on your job start date.
You must apply for the visa stamp within 90 days of your employment start date, and you must consider the processing times at the US consulate or embassy in your home country, which can vary.
H-1B Visa Stamping Process
Comprehension of the H-1B visa stamping process is key to complete your application correctly and securing your employment in the United States.
The following is a four-step process to get stamp on your H-1B visa:
H-1B Visa Application Form DS-160
This is the first step through which you can start your visa stamping process:
Go to the U.S. Department of State website and complete the DS-160 form.
Provide personal credentials along with information about your employer and the job you gonna do in the U.S.
After submitting the form, you’ve to print out the confirmation page with the 10-digit barcode.
The confirmation page must be secured well as it’ll be required during the visa interview.
Submit the Application Fee and Schedule the H-1B Visa Appointment
The foreign professional, after the submission of the required payment, must schedule two interviews at least two days before the scheduled interview with the consulate/embassy: one with the Offsite Facilitation Center (OFC) and the other with the consulate or embassy for the visa interview.
The foreign professional must pay an H-1B application fee which is processed electronically by USCIS. To pay the fee, the foreign professional must create a user profile with the U.S. Visa Service website and select “Schedule Appointment.” He/She can select the best-fitted payment information on the payment confirmation page that appears on the screen. The payment is only valid for one year, so the foreign professional must schedule the H-1B visa appointment within that time.
Schedule Fingerprinting Appointment at a VAC
Here’s how a foreign professional can schedule a biometrics appointment:
The foreign professional must schedule a biometrics appointment at least one day before your visa interview (however, at max the time limit can be extended to three days but not beyond).
The foreign professional can attend the biometrics appointment at a Visa Application Center (VAC).
Attend your H-1B Visa Interview
The foreign professional is now eligible to go to the indicated consulate for the interview and carry the following documents:
Completed and signed DS-156 Form
Completed DS-157 Form
One passport-sized photo taken within the last six months
Must be a square photo
Dimensions: Minimum of 600 pixels by 600 pixels, maximum of 1200 pixels by 1200 pixels
Be in color
The size of the photo cannot be more than 240 kilobytes
USCIS approval through Form I-797
Original visa petition through Form I-129
Labor Condition Application (LCA) from the Department of Labor
Letter from US employer with details about job position, salary, and job description
Company information of US employer with photographs, address, prospectus, brochures, and annual report
Letters from previous employers to prove work experience
Diplomas and certificates of academic qualifications
Resume or curriculum vitae (CV)
Current address in the home country
Bank statements for the last three months
Receipts for payment of all applicable fees
Social Security Number (if you already have one)
Note: If one intends to take their spouse and children, the following documents will be sought:
Original notice of action form I-797 of the principal applicant
I-129 of the principal applicant, or a copy of the I-797 and I-129 if the I-797 is a blanket permit
Photocopy of the principal applicant’s valid visa if applying separately
Original marriage certificate and any evidence that can prove the marriage, such as a wedding photo album
Original birth certificate for each child
When can I enter the US with an H1B visa stamp?
The foreign professional is eligible to get the H-1B visa stamp only after submitting the above-mentioned documents.
As it’s already mentioned on the Form I-797 approval notice the foreign professional may enter the U.S. no earlier than ten days before their start date. The flight booking can be done accordingly.
H-1B visa re-stamping
H-1B visa re-stamping is done once your current visa expires or your renewal has been approved. Notably, you can’t get it re-stamped in the U.S., so you must go to a country outside the U.S. (preferably your hometown) to do the needful.
The procedure for re-stamping is similar to the process you have undergone for the first time. The only difference is that you might be asked to submit a few additional documents. Once your visa has been re-stamped, you can return to the US and continue working in your H-1B status.
How Can We Come in to Help You in H1B Visa Extension?
Those who have undergone the process of visa stamping know the visa appointment and stamping process is complex and can be daunting. You must ensure that you comply with all immigration laws and regulations, along with being well-prepared for the in-person interview.
For that matter, the wisest decision will be to contact a professional firm like ours. With us, H1Bvisajobs.com, you’ll get every possible assistance right from basic to advanced level advice and guidance to preparation for your interviews.
Willing to accelerate your chances of success and avoid all delays or complications? CONTACT US NOW
To be precise, if you make use of the information stated above, you’ll be able to have your H-1B visa stamped and start working in the United States with no difficulty at all.
Your H-1B visa stamping is typically valid for three years. You’re eligible for another three-year extension. If you’re closer to the end of your first three years, you should be prepared to renew your visa when it expires.
H-1B Visa Stamping Frequently Asked Questions
What is the maximum amount of time I can stay in the United States with an H-1B visa?
Ideally, the H-1B visa is valid for six years, however, with a few exceptions, you can stretch the time limit to stay in the U.S. for a longer duration. For instance, if you apply for a green card or if you’ve spent time outside the United States during your stay, you may be able to extend your visa. For that matter, you need to plea USCIS stating the valid reasons for your stay outside the U.S.
How Many Appointments Will You Have for Work Visa Stamping?
Offsite Facilitation Center (OFC): This is where you will provide your biometrics (fingerprints and photo).
Visa Application Center (VAC): This is where you will submit your visa application and supporting documents.
Embassy or Consulate: This is where you will have your visa interview.
Kindly note that the specific appointment scheduling process differs from one country to another along with the type of visa you are applying for. To be on the safer side, check with the U.S. embassy or consulate in your country for the most up-to-date information.
Can I Go to a Consular Officer for H-1B Stamping Now?
Positively yes, if you’re within the eligibility period which is determined by your work start date. Besides, you must be ready with the necessary list of documentation usually provided to the consular officer and required during the interview.
When can I enter the U.S. with my H-1B visa?
Before the start date of your job in the United States, you can enter there within ten days.
This is primarily due to the approval you ought to earn once you enter the U.S. from Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer who authorizes your H-1B visa status. When you enter, the CBP officer will stamp your passport with an I-94 arrival record, which will show your H-1B status and the start and end dates of your authorized stay.
Notably, you can’t begin working on your H-1B visa until the start date listed on your I-94 record. However, if you do so before your start date, you’ll violate your immigration status. Therefore, when booking your flight to the United States, be sure to choose a date that is at least ten (10) days before the start date of your employment. This will give you enough time to enter the country, get your passport stamped, and begin working on your H-1B visa.
My employer is petitioning for my H-1B visa, but I was previously a dependent H-4 visa holder. Does the time spent on the H-4 transfer to the time allotted on the new H-1B visa?
No. This is because H-4 visa and H-1B visa are two different subcategories of visas. The H-4 will not affect the time given for the new H-1B visa.
What if USCIS rejects my H-1B visa?
God forbids but if the USCIS rejects your H-1B visa at stamping, your desire to ensure a smooth entry into the United States will be at stake. There could be a number of reasons for USCIS to reject your H-1B application. This varies from issues related to fees, documentation to fraud suspicion. For the first two cases i.e., fee or documentation issues, you should make reattempt to apply and get an H-1B visa appointment all over again.
However, before you do this, it’s advisable that you attain adequate information from the U.S. embassy, and ensure that you’ve the additional documents they request for this time around. You should also consult with your attorney on proceeding with the application process to improve your chances of approval.
I had an H-1B petition in the past, but I did not go through the H-1B visa stamping process. Is my H-1B still legitimate?
For your H-1B visa petition to be legitimate, the I-797 and job offer must remain active. If the I-797 gets expired, your H-1B visa petition will be considered null and void. In that case, the employer can submit a request to withdraw your petition resulting in having your visa revoked.
Can my H-4 spouse work in the U.S.?
Definitely. As per the new rule given by the Department of Homeland Security in 2015, H-4 dependent spouses of H-1B nonimmigrants who have an approved I-140 immigrant petition are eligible to apply for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD), which allows them to work legally in the United States.
The H-4 EAD is valid for up to two years at a time, and H-4 dependent spouses may apply for an EAD at any time, even if they are not currently working. However, the H-4 dependent spouse’s H-4 status is only in force as long as the principal H-1B nonimmigrant’s status is valid, and if USCIS revokes the principal H-1B nonimmigrant’s I-140 petition, the H-4 dependent spouse will no longer be eligible for an EAD and will not be able to renew their existing EAD.