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H1B Visa Stamping Process Explained

The H1B stamping process is a key part of being granted a visa to work in the United States and is an important step towards becoming a US citizen.

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    When Can You Apply for a H-1B Visa Stamp?

    There are set periods of when you are able to apply for a H1B Visa and it is important you don’t apply at the wrong time otherwise you may be refused the stamp.

    You are only able to apply within three months of the date you are set to start working in the US and you should start your application as soon as this period starts, especially as any backlogs at your local US embassy or consulate will impact on the timescale for getting the stamp.

    If you are in doubt of whether it is too early or late to apply then you may wish to seek advice from an immigration attorney to ensure your application gets approved without any delays or problems.

    The Steps Towards HB1 Visa Stamping

    In order to obtain the HB1 Visa Stamp you will need to ensure you complete a DS-160 nonimmigrant visa application form. This can be completed online and you will need to pay the applicable fees. You should also keep a copy of the payment confirmation and the confirmation form as you will need to show this at your H1B visa stamping.

    The next step is to arrange a visa interview appointment. The scheduled interview must be arranged at least two days before you wish to have the visa appointment. You will also have to provide your biometric information to the visa application center.

    What Documents are Needed to Have your H1B Visa Stamped?

    You will need to travel to your local US embassy or consular office for the visa stamping. It is important that you have all the relevant documents needed when attending your stamping interview.

    Immigration services requires you are able to show the following personal documents:

    • A copy of the labor condition application
    • Your original form I-797 approval notice
    • A copy of the signed I-129 petition which you are to obtain from USCIS
    • A valid passport must not expire until six months after your H1B Visa expiration.
    • Medical examination documents

    If you attend your appointment and do not have these personal documents the visa stamping will not be possible.

    Attending the H1B Visa Interview

    Part of the stamping process and being granted a H1B Visa involves attending an interview with a consular officer – this will be at your nearest US embassy or consulate. In most cases, all first-time H1B applicants are required to attend this interview and if they fail to do so then a visa will not be issued.

    You should check ahead where the embassy is and if they have any specific rules in place for visitors – they may require you to attend alone or without a mobile phone. You will need to bring your documents with you for inspection.

    It can be daunting attending the interview but you should try to answer all the questions comprehensively and accurately.

    The officer will talk to you about your planned job in the US, your sponsoring employer, your skills and qualifications as well as your immigration history.

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      Will be H1B Visa Expire?

      When you attend your visa appointment it will be explained that your visa stamp will have an expiration date. In most cases, the visa is initially issues for three years for most foreign nationals and H1B Visas can only be issued for a maximum of six years. It is important to ensure you do not stay in the US without a valid visa stamp and you should either switch to a different nonimmigrant status or renew your H1B Visa.

      Having your H1B Visa Re-stamped

      If your H1B Visa has expired and your renewed one has been approved you will need to ensure you have your passport re-stamped. A H1B stamp can not be given in the United States so you will need to travel overseas to complete the extension process.

      You can opt to have your stamp issued at most US embassies or consulates outside of the US – it does not need to be the one you first attended to have your visa stamping or the one in your home country.

      The visa stamping process is the same as when applying for the first time. However, you may need to provide all your documents as well as an additional documents to ensure the visa stamping goes ahead without any issues.

       

      Travelling to the US after HB1 Visa Stamping

      Once you have attended your visa interview and had your visa stamped, you may need to wait until you travel to the US.

      The US consulate will advise you that you H1B Visa holders can only travel to the US ten days before they are due to start their new employment. This is the date that your sponsoring employer will have provided on your visa application and on the employment verification letter.

      If you attempt to travel before this date then you find yourself being denied entry by the US immigration services.

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