Change of Status or first time H1B visa stamping Canada or Mexico? H4 to H1B, F1 to H1B etc ? Go to Home Country for visa Stamping?

First time H1B visa stamping Canad Mexico Bahamas

This article was written in 2010. Please check the respective websites of US consulates for current information.

With the Latest New H1B visa petition rules of 2011 quota, getting H1B approval notice from USCIS is one hurdle and then getting H1B visa stamping is another big hurdle. This article explains few scenarios and helps you throw some information about visa stamping in Canada, Mexico, Bahamas or your Home country. This article assumes you are in US on a visa and did a change of status to H1B visa and worked in US or plan to work in US after re-entering US.

Info on Change of Status(COS) from F1 to H1B , H4 to H1B, L1 to H1B, etc.

If you are in US on F1 visa, L1 Visa, H4 visa or any other visa and apply for H1B visa through a H1B visa sponsoring employer and get H1B approval notice and if you start working or you intend to start working after you leave US and re-enter US, you will need to get your H1B visa stamping done. The sentence seems confusing; bottom-line if you leave USA without any H1B visa stamping and re-enter US on H1B status then you need to have H1B visa stamped to work in US.  You can keep working in US  and do a Change of status without getting visa stamping done as long as you do not leave the country and try to re-enter.  If you are in US you have few options either get visa stamping in a neighboring country like Canada or Bahamas.

Why Cannot you go for First time H1B visa stamping to Mexico ?

You cannot go to Mexico for first time H1B visa stamping or any kind of Change of Status. You can only go to Mexico for renewals only. People used to be able to get change of visa stamped before( I got my first H1B in Mexico too), but NOT now.     The Mexican Immigration website of Tijuana and Matamoros clearly says that Third Country nationals(TCNs) cannot apply for change of status visa stamping.

Here is exactly what it says in immigration website of Tijuana

“ Who Can Apply in Mexico

  • TCN Applicants residing in the United States, seeking to renew their visa in any category except B1/2 (tourist/business) or H-2 (temporary or seasonal workers). A spouse or dependent children may apply with the principal visa holder if the principal meets the criteria above.  A renewal is a case where an applicant for the same type of visa is made and does not include persons who seek to change from one visa category to another or who are seeking any other type of “change of status” even if that change has been authorized by the Department of Homeland Security.”

Please read “Who can Apply in Mexico” Section in the immigration websites below.

Can you go to First time H1B visa stamping in Canada ?

This is a very confusing question for everyone, can we go to Canada then for first time H1B visa stamping. The reality is, there is no rule or any condition written anywhere just like on US Mexico Consulate website on US Canadian Consulate general website. The consulate general website mentions that H1B visa holder required documents and puts in a clause at the end : “Consular officers in Canada may refuse to issue a visa to H-1Bapplicants if their education and /or work experience is solely or predominantly from a country other than the U.S. or Canada”

What they are trying to say is it can create issues if you have full education or experience in your Home country. This is a typical case for L1 to H1B conversion or H4 to H1B visa conversion people. It is a caution to someone who did not study in US or work in US to avoid if you can.

Please read the below

Can you go to First time H1B Visa stamping in Bahamas ?

Yes you can. There is no rules as of now like Mexico.  I know few of my friends who went to Bahamas for Visa stamping last year. One went for F1 to H1B visa and other for L1 to H1B visa. They had to get Bahamas visa to go there too.  You should call the Bahamas Embassy under the new rules they mention on their site before you book an appointment.  You can read the details below


Summary: Where to go Canada, Mexico, Bahamas or Home Country for first time H1B visa stamping or Change of status?

As you cannot go to Mexico, it is out of picture. Next option is for Canada, see it is risky in Canada if you do not have US education or experience in US as they clearly mention on consulate site of Canada. Personally, Bahamas seems promising as I have not heard any issues. Bahamas is something to consider. You will have to defend your visa interview though with full documentation and any questions though.  What my understanding after reading many blogs and other info in many forums is : it is recommended to go to Home country for change of status or First time H1B visa stamping. The reason is, it is much easy to verify your education certificates, work related certificates etc if you have from your home country.

Important: These are all my personal thoughts based on readings on blogs, Forums and US Consulate website. You need to contact the US consulate for up to date information or to find any changes in rules.

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717 comments… add one

  • Vij Oct 29, 2015 Reply


    I am yet to book slot for H1B interview. We moved to Canada recently three months ago as Permanent Residents. Can I go to Toronto consulate for stamping? We filed H1B from India, I have never traveled to US before; All my work experience and studies are in India. My attorney said I can go for stamping in Canada as I am a permanent resident here. I do not want to go to India, as I may get stuck up in India with 221G or administrative processing!! Please share your experience/advice.

  • Pratyush Prasoon Sep 18, 2015 Reply

    Need urgent input.
    My Wife’s H4 visa interview was conducted in Hong Kong on 17th September. The officer at the counter said Your visa is approved and kept her passport.
    But in the evening she got an email asking for a scanned copy of Marriage Certificate. She was NOT handed any slips in visa interview. but now the status is being shown as Administrative Processing.
    How much time will this processing take. She is supposed to fly coming Friday on 25th September. Even her passport is stuck there now.
    Can you please shed some light on this?

    Thanks & Regards,

    • Kumar Sep 19, 2015 Reply

      Pratyush, It is a generic status, when the consulate is working on your case and verifying something. There is no timeline as such for the response…Not to scare you, but it can take few days to months depending on the case complexity. As it is H4, it may not be that long…I suggest you call the consulate or check with them in couple of days, indicating your situation.

  • Achillies Sep 16, 2015 Reply

    Hi Guys,
    I am planning to go to stamping in Mid December this year to Mumbai consulate. and after that I plan to Maldives next week. My question is if I get 221G just in case, will the embassy keeps my passport until it gets clear. few of my friends got back their passport and few of them didn’t. One of my friend told me that I can ask embassy to give back to me. Please let me know which one it true or where can i find a definite answer.
    Thank you.

  • Ankita Srivastava Sep 8, 2015 Reply

    I am enrolled in a masters program on H-4 (never worked or studied in USA before) This is my first semester and I got accepted for assistantship. I, therefore, want to get a Change of Status to F-1.
    My school officials have told me that getting a change of status while being in USA will take 8-9 months. And the best option is to go out of USA and enter with a new stamp. Based on this article I understand that Mexico and Canada are not the rt option for me. I am considering Bahamas or India (home country)

    Please share your experiences with stamping at Bahamas or any other details anyone know!!
    I need to make this decision asap.


  • Sonny Aug 28, 2015 Reply

    Hi All, I came to US on L2 visa 7 years ago, worked on EAD for a couple of years, my company sponsored H1B as a consular processing and a year later change of status, I have been working on H1B since then. Never went outside US for H1B stamping, recently i took a fulltime job with a large sized global company, thinking of going to India for stamping now, how shud i prepare? has anyone had a similar case?

  • Arul Jul 31, 2015 Reply

    Hi, I got my H1b 2016 picked in lottery and approved now. I am in Canada right now and my company is Indian MNC have offices in Canada and US. I have not been to US so far and this is first time.

    I am hearing people saying that I need to go India to do stamping as I did education there. Should I go to India to get H1b stamping done or Can I do it in Canada itself? Please let me know.

    • AV Aug 1, 2015 Reply

      No need to go to India. I am from Canada too and you can go for stamping in Canada.

      • AD Aug 3, 2015 Reply

        Arul/AV : Have either of you got it stamped recently? Or got any confirmation on this from your attorneys? My attorney says that it is a risk to go or stamping in Canada.
        FYI : I got a similar case here too. First time H1B with Indian MNC and currently in Canada. However, I am a PR holder and also have worked previously in US for more than 5 years.

        • AV Aug 3, 2015 Reply

          If you are Permanent/Temporary resident of Canada, you are still resident of Canada and you can go for stamping at your country of residence(Canada) or home country. There is no risk involved if you go for stamping in Canada since you are a PR holder.

        • AV Aug 3, 2015 Reply

          I am still waiting for my approval , but I have seen my friends who got stamped successfully in Canada being the resident.

          • Murali Aug 11, 2015

            Dear Friends,

            During 2012, I was working in Singapore and I went for H1B visa interview at US Embassy, Singapore. They have revoked and sent my petition to USCIS and they told that they cannot process my application since am foreign national. Again my employer filed a new petition with cap excemp quoto and attended my Visa interview at Mumbai. Now I have got my stamping and entering to USA on 1st week of September. So, you guys plan accordingly.

          • AD Aug 17, 2015

            Thanks AV for your inputs. Sorry couldn’t reply earlier.
            Have you got any confirmation yet ? I am going for stamping tommorrow as I dont have option to go to India now. Hope I can get it through :)

          • AD Aug 18, 2015

            Ok, got it approved today. There was no specific question related to current status in Canada and only at before the finger-printing they asked to for the current status and saw my PR card. However, there was another person in front of me from India and she also had first H1 whereas she also was travelling from US for stamping ( i guess from OPT/F1/H4/L1) and she got it approved as well.

      • Vij Oct 29, 2015 Reply

        Hi AV,

        We recently moved to Canada as PRs. Can I go for H1B stamping in Canada. I am not working in Canada as of now, and would be joining my US employer once stamping is done. Fresh H1, never traveled to US before; Did masters in India, and all my work ex is in India.

  • Asha May 31, 2015 Reply

    Hi all,
    I came to us on l2 , working for xyz with valid EAD from 2 years. Staying in usa with valid i94 as visa is expired.
    Now my company has sponsored l1b visa blanket petition.
    I wanted to go to canada for stamping. I do have valid canada visa. But no interview slots are available till next 6 months.
    My next option is mexico. Can I travel to mexico with my business visa to get l1b stamped? Please advice .
    My company says mine is l2 to l1 conversion.

  • Supriya Apr 15, 2015 Reply

    Hi All,

    I came to the US on H4 in December and my company applied for change of status (L1B Individual) and it got approved in February. I am presently working here in the US. I have one rejection in the L1B Blanket category from India in August 2014. If i travel to India, I will need to go for stamping. Are there any chances of my visa getting rejected ? Are there any other options available ?

  • Raj Mar 28, 2015 Reply

    Hi All,

    I am currently in US persuing masters (1st Semester). Got an opportunity to file H1b on 1st April 2015. I’m going to apply for H1b this year. In case if my application got selected would it be any problem for me to leave the country and come back after H1b stamping. What are the possibilities of Visa approval.

    Thank you

  • Vibhu Feb 27, 2015 Reply

    Hi Saurabh,

    I am on H1B extension which was recently approved. My wife and daughter are in H4. I got recent extension from the new Employer which I joined in Nov 2014. My Visa Stamping got expired in Month of December with my Wife and Daughter as same. I already was in approved H1B earlier which was approved till July 2016 but never went to stamp / out of USA.

    Now we are thinking to get stamping done. Please suggest where to go? also is it advisable to go with family or alone for Re stamping of H1B? My relatives are in Toronto and in Vancouver. My all education is from India and having 3 years of US experience and 7 years of Indian Experience.

    Please suggest Place to go for stamping and time duration if any implies on the stamping process. Also to note, I am not going to India as of now. so Didn’t want to spend much to go to India only for stamping..


  • Aakash Jan 27, 2015 Reply

    Hi saurabh ,

    I got my H1B ext. in oct 2014 valid till 2017and my wife (H4 ) is going for stamping in india in feb . I also want to get my stamping done but I am not looking for going india at this moment ..can you suggest me any other places(Countries ) where I can get my stamping done ?

  • H1H4interview Nov 13, 2014 Reply

    I attended stamping interview@KL,malaysia..VO issued yellow slip..wait for us to contact interview required..
    He asked no documents needed from your side..

    What went wrong…i don’t know…I’m reading same to same situation happened to who applied and interview by him.

    Even i noticed he gave yellow slip to next applicant next to me…

    Whether anybody got approved after this VO(Bald Head & Left Eye Blind(white puple) gave yellow slips from KL, Malaysia…

    “your application is refused pending the provision of missing documentation”..what is this meaning..

    i provided 797,129 and all offer,client letters..and filled form given at interview..returned only passports to me…
    Status: Administrative Processing..
    May I know what is this means..advice me how to proceed further..
    Kindly help me…

  • Srini Nov 3, 2014 Reply

    My Wife came to US with H4 visa.later she got H1 visa while staying in US itself and started woking and switched to different companies with same employer who initiated visa.we are planning for vaccation trip to india ,is Amendment mandatory to get Visa stamping

    • Abiraami Nov 4, 2014 Reply

      Hi srini,

      I am on H4 visa just like your wife. Could you please help me as to how u managed to get your H1B status for your wife. Ur help is greatly valued.


  • San Ch Aug 26, 2014 Reply

    I am currently on H4
    but got H1 approved with I-797B (this is my first H1B, never worked in US in the past)
    so I need to apply for change of status before I can start work
    Do I need to go out of US for change of status or it can be done by being in US?
    Can I go to Jamaica for stamping (would it be ok for first time H1B?) as going to India is time consuming and also very expensive
    Any set of documents I can take to make my case stronger?

    • Mano Aug 29, 2014 Reply

      I got little confused over your status.
      I assume you are already in US while applying your new H1B? If so you would have got your new I94 with your H1B approval that is your I797 petition if not then you need to apply for Change of Status(CoS).

      You don’t need to go out of country as per my experience but if the approval requested to do so then it is as per the I797.

      As you mentioned I797B, you have approval but you need Cos which can be done while you are in USA.

      This is my opinion and experience and legal advice.

      • San Ch Sep 8, 2014 Reply

        Thanks for the response!
        Do you know apart from Jamaica for first time H1B stamping, if its better to go to Mumbai or Delhi consulate ?

  • dakau Apr 30, 2014 Reply


    Thanks for posting such details. I’ve a bit complicated case and wish to know what you think:

    1) Came to US on L1B in 2004
    2) COS from L1B to H1B in 2007 and been working in EVC model since
    3) Got H1B stamped in Mexico in 2008
    4) 2 Extensions applied and approved till Sep-2013 (needless to say, I140 approved and I485 applied)
    5) Applied extension prior to Sep-2013, but changed client in Nov-2013
    6) RFE in Jan-2014, responded by Apr-2014 and simultaneously applied for new petition in Apr-2014 for consular processing (all due to client change)
    7) In a period of authorized stay since Sep-2013

    Would I be eligible to apply for visa stamping in Canada, Mexico or Jamaica?

    FYI, I’ve a non-US master’s degree.


  • Rajesh Mar 10, 2014 Reply

    Bhamas US consulate now stopped accepting request for first time visa stamping

  • SCP Nov 17, 2013 Reply

    Hi Saurabh,
    I have attended H1b interview at Singapore consulate,VO issued 221(g)-pink slip with requesting more documents from employer but VO kept my original experience letters and said that my case will be re-opend once i produce the requested docs,am more worried about my original docs,How do i get it back?it may take some more time for my employer to provide the necessary docs,can i request for my original docs?

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