When to apply for H1B visa stamping and Enter US before 10 days

H1B Approved – When to apply for Visa Stamping ? When can you enter USA?

In Apply H1B Visa by Kumar480 Comments

When to apply for H1B visa stamping and Enter US before 10 daysAs soon as you get H1B approval, most of you are curious to know: “when  can I  apply for visa stamping and when can I enter US” . I have seen many people ask this question and the reality is, people on internet just give their own version of answers.  Personally, I think it is hard to believe for me those statements by someone unless I see the references or I know them that they are professional. Anyways, I did some research on this and here are the answers with references.

How early can you apply for H1B visa stamping after petition approval ?
As per USTravelDocs Agency Working Visa FAQ, which provides online  visa appointment bookings in India for US embassies, they say you should apply at least 2 to 3 months before.

Q.8 My H1B Employment Petition (USCIS Form I-797) shows an employment start date. How early can I apply for an H1B visa at the Consulate?

Ans You can apply for an H1B visa up to 90 days in advance beginning of employment status as noted on the form I-797, Notice of Action, however your entry to the US is restricted to 10 days prior to the start date as noted in the Form I-797 unless you are already working on an H1B visa for the same employer. 

Summary: When to apply for H1B visa stamping after approval ?
USTravelDocs website is the official source and  is the primary source for any information on booking  appointments and one should follow their recommendation. As per their recommendation, you can apply for H1B visa stamping only 90 days prior to your H1B employment start date.  So, if your start date is October 1st for H1B visa status, you can apply for visa stamping anytime after July 1st . To avoid last minute delays, start your visa stamping process in early July.

It is recommended that you always check the official website for correct and current information. You may call up or write to US Consulate or visa service provider customer service and ask them for clarification and confirmation… because, rules keep changing and  it may vary slightly depending on state and country.

When can you enter US on H1B visa after Visa stamping ?

Luckily, there are not many variations of answers here and no need to debate. You can enter US only 10 days before the start date on your I-797 petition. i.e., say if your start date is October 1st, you can only enter US on or after September 20th on H1B visa.  You can read the above VFS Agency FAQ, also below…

Check out all the work visa related Visa FAQs on USTravelDocs.com Website

You may not enter the United States more than 10 days prior to the petition validity date.

Hopefully you are clear now as the answers are from US Govt websites.

How did you handle your Visa Stamping after H1B Approval ?  Any tips to share with readers ?

Image Credit : http://www.hotfrog.in/Uploads/PressReleases/Saudi-Residence-Visa-Stamping-Quick-Safe-Bangalore-agent-Trawellday-Tours-13287_image.jpg

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Comments ( 480 )

  1. PK Gopalakrishnan

    My son is on L1 visa and the same employer applied for H1B and got it approved.
    Pl clarify the following:
    1. Is it necessary for him to leave the country to get H1B stamped? Since the employer is same can it be done in USA.
    2. If not then for getting it done should he go back to home country or to Canada ?
    3. Is there any time limit within which he needs to get it stamped? If so how many months he has ?
    4. Since H1B has been approved what happens to L1 till he gets H1B stamped
    Pl advise

  2. Rishoo Singh


    My H1B petition got cleared in 2014 but my employer applied for the stamping only recently. I’ve not changed the employer since then. As per the stamping my Visa validity ends in May 2017. I need to know what will be the actual validity of my Visa as per I-94 in ideal conditions at the time of PoE. I understand it will depend on the immigration officer but what will the best and worst case scenario. What should be the latest date before which I should travel.

    Thanks for your help.


    1. administrator

      Rishoo Singh,

      Visa stamp and I-94 would be issued until petition expiration date. I would suggest traveling at least 1 month prior to petition expiration date so that employer has enough time to apply for extension.

  3. Samarth Hegde


    Can I book an appointment for H-1B VISA in any USA embassy in India? Because there are no open slots in my home city in December and I desperately have to get visa stamp and return to the US soon?



    1. administrator

      Samarth Hegde,

      Yes, you can go to any consulate in India. BTW, there is only 1 US embassy in India (New Delhi); all others are consulates.

      1. Samarth

        Hi Saurabh. Thanks a lot! Haha I meant to say consulates, my bad!
        I had one more query, probably this is first time ever in history to happen I guess. I was really stressed out to get an interview slot in November end-December, so I totally forgot that DS-160 is the first step before scheduling interview and I went on to book one without filling a DS-160 at all. And when I was scheduling the appointment, there was a default DS-160 confirmation number in the form, and I thought may be I’ll be guided to a DS-160 form with that same number once I finish scheduling interview. But I was totally wrong.

        So essentially I have filled my DS-160 form AFTER I booked the interview.

        Am I still good?

        Thanks in advance.

        1. administrator


          It doesn’t matter if DS form was completed and submitted after scheduling the appointment or prior to that.

          Just make sure that the DS# in your appointment is the same one that you have submitted.

  4. Sunny

    Hi my H1b petition end date is sep30th, and I am planning to go for visa interview on sep22nd. Note I never traveled to US, Will I face any issues in the interview.

    Please suggest.

  5. Sandeep


    I got my H1B visa stamped but one of my friends say that I have to travel and join by the date mentioned in the Petition and Offer letter which is 1st of October. But, I have lot of things to wind up here and also spend some time with family. Can anyone suggest me if I will have any problem at PoE if I travel after 15th October? I can get the date updated on offer letter though.

    Thanks in Advance. Quick suggestions please.

    1. administrator


      That is not true. You can travel anytime to US during the petition and visa stamp validity period. Whenever you enter US, make sure you have recently dated documents like offer letter, project/client letter etc.

  6. Suresh Kumar

    Hello Friends,
    My H1B petition was approved in 2015 and its validity is till Dec 31 2016 , till now I haven’t received any Projects from my employer yet, what will happen to my Petition , will it be expired by this year Ending, Do I need to apply for new H1B next year or what ? Is there any way to extend my petition validity by paying fine or following some extension process?
    Please clarify my doubts.
    Thanks to one and all

    T& R

    1. administrator

      Suresh Kumar,

      As you have already been counted in the cap, same/different employer can file a cap-exempt petition for you. No need to go through the cap again. The employer will have to pay the fees for this cap-exempt petition.

  7. H1b Question

    I would like to know if there is a time limit to enter the US once my H1b is approved? How much time do I have to get the visa stamping? Is there a time limit? I will not be able to leave my home country before several months, but I want to make sure this will not affect my h1B visa. Thank you!

    1. administrator

      H1b Question,

      You can appear for stamping anytime within the petition validity period. Same holds true for the entry to US.

      Whenever you go for stamping or enter US, make sure you have recently dated supporting documents like employment letter, project documents etc.

  8. Carrie


    My job starting date is October 26th. My law firm informed me that in order for me to remain in compliance and not accrue unlawful status, I must depart the US before October 1, and can only return up to 10 days prior to my actual start date with PwC US – with my approval notice and H-1B visa stamp in my passport. (For anyone with a start date after October 10, whose H-1B petition was approved as change of status must depart the US before October 1 and can only return within 10 days prior to their official start date).

    I never heard this H1B rule from other people before. Therefore, I want to confirm with you that what my law firm said is correct. Thank you and I look forward to hearing back from you.

  9. Khaled

    Hi all,

    It is mentioned up that I can enter the US up to 10 days before the start day of my visa (Oct 1st), so I can basically enter the country after Sept 20th.

    I just couldn’t find this information on the USCIS website, how can I make sure of it so the airport back home let me leave to the US with a Visa that isn’t theoretically valid?

  10. Ivan

    I just received my passport with the H1B Visa stamp. The Visa Stamp indicates Issue Date – July 28th 2016. My I-797 Approval Notice indicates that I am valid to work after October 1st, 2016. I see statements that I can enter 10 days before October 1st, but if my Visa Stamp indicates Issue Date July 28th, can I arrive earlier than September 20th? I hope this question makes sense.

    Thank you for answering in advance. Your website is AMAZING!


      1. Ivan Pandulev

        Ok. But my lawyer says that I could enter the US with the Visa, but I would not be able to work till Oct 1st since it will not be compliant. So, right now your answer might not be correct? I mean, if the Visa is ISSUED and valid from July 28th, I don’t understand why I would not be able to enter the US?

        1. administrator

          Ivan Pandulev,

          Your lawyer is wrong. If you want, go ahead and try to enter US. You will be returned from PoE.

          Notice it is called Issue Date and not Effective Date. It is the date on which it was issued/approved and may or may not be the date when it becomes effective.

          If you look at your 797 approval document, you would notice there is a notice date (like issue date) and valid from dates. The 797 doesn’t go into effect until it is within valid dates.

          Ask the lawyer where it says that you can enter on such a visa when the petition hasn’t become effective and that too more than 10 days in advance.

  11. sarveswarudu

    JULY 20, 2016 03:48:31 CDTREPLY

    1. You can appear for stamping anytime during petition validity period.
    2. Yes, you can apply for Australian PR while still having H-1 in hand.

    Thanks for your reply but please clarify:
    1) what is the validity period for H-1? where it will be mentioned? or is there any general validity period?
    2) After applying and getting PR in Australia, can I move out of country having the validity of PR of Australia to join job in US with H-1?

    1. administrator


      1. H-1 approval document (797) will have the petition validity period. Visa stamp will also be issued for the same period.
      2. I don’t know about Australian rules, but usually you can enter US on H-1 even if you have PR of any other country. They are not related to each other.

  12. sarveswarudu

    dear sir,
    I got H1b and received the receipt copy from my employer. But, Presently I am in Australia on my present employer’s work. It may take about 9 to 12 months stay in Australia.
    My question is,
    1) howmany days I can prolong my visa application?
    2) Can I apply for PR at Aurstralia keeping the H1b in my hand?
    Please clarify.

    1. administrator


      1. You can appear for stamping anytime during petition validity period.
      2. Yes, you can apply for Australian PR while still having H-1 in hand.

      1. Yash

        Hi Saurabh,

        My current employer asked me to travel to Singapore. But my US H1B petition got picked in the lottery recently and I am waiting for the approval.
        My questions are:-
        1. Can I travel to Singapore and work there?
        2. Once I receive the H1B approval, am I eligible to go for stamping in Singapore or do I need to come back to India for stamping?
        3. Once stamping is done, how soon I need to travel US post Oct 1st?

        Since I am new to this, could you please advise.


        1. administrator


          1. Yes
          2. You will have to check w/ US embassy in Singapore about this. Each embassy has different rules on TCNs (Third Country Nationals). Usually it would be ok if you have been working in Singapore for a while and are there on a long term visa.
          3. You can travel anytime during your petition/visa validity period. Whenever you travel, make sure you have recently dated documents like offer letter, client/project letter etc.

  13. Srikanth


    I got I797 receipt notice, but when i check USCIS online, it shows up a validation error saying case is not found. What could be the reason, can we rely on Uscis online? or should we followup with attorney? what is the next step?

  14. Anitha

    My petition got approved on December 13, 2013, Form I-129. Due to personal reason i did not go for stamping. now i am interested. Please let me know can i eligible for applying stamping.

  15. Marco

    My H1B petition is currently ongoing. My starting date in US is August 18. I have a flight to return to the US on July 8. Can I return in the US as visa waiver (ESTA), wait the H1B completion and then start to work in US?

  16. Ganesh Palani

    Got selected in lottery this Time ,but the sow ends in DEC 2015.what if I go for stamping in Oct or Nov 2015.req anyone’s help

  17. H1b2016_2ndAttempt

    Hi Kumar – I got my H1b 2016 (Cap-NonAD) petition approved earlier this year. I am transferring to my employer’s US office in October but need to travel on a short (3 weeks) business trip in August on B1 that I currently hold. If I get my H1b stamped in July, can I still travel on B1 before my H1b effective date? Or, is it advised that I get my H1 stamped upon returning from my trip in August.

  18. David Zhang

    Thanks for your information!
    I am on F1-OPT now and My H1B was approved and will be effective on Jan 1 2015 and I am going to travel back to my home country during Dec. 2014 and planning to return U.S. on Dec 28 2014 (namely 3 days before H1B starting date). It seems OK based on your information. My question is whether It’s OK for my wife and kids to remain in U.S. during my traveling (They are F2 dependents until Jan 1 2015 H4 started). I ask this question because I doubt whether they will lost there F2 dependents when I travel outside of U.S..

  19. Nits

    I have H1B visa approved in 2013 Jan and now I have to join in Oct 2014…will there be any issue as already 2 years past?

  20. DJ072014

    My wife’s got her H1b approved and soon she will go for Visa interview in Consulate. She was in US (on H4) and now in India.
    After visa stamping does she need to wait till 1-Oct to travel or she can travel anytime after H1b stamping (considering she had a valid H4 as well) ?

    1. Kirti

      Can you please let me know, how did your wife’s interview go – the H1B Visa stamping? What all questions did the VO ask? I am in the same state. I have an approved visa and I came to India recently in September. As I am on a dependent visa, I cannot show the paystubs, so wanted to know the details about the interview.

  21. Raj

    The above statement is true. I attended my fresh h1b visa interview last friday(ie June 20th – Hyderabad) the lady who interviewed me said that “ur visa is approved and wll get my passport with in 2 days” kept my passport with her. But yesterday I received my passport(with out stamping) with a white 221g slip mentioned in handwriting as “Re-submit your passport on/or after July 1,2014 as an H1b visa may not be issued 90 days prior to petition start date” . My employer didn’t tell me about this change. So guys please attend for fresh H1b visa interview after July 1st. Not sure what will happen to my case. Planing to resubmit my passport on july1st. Please provide your comments on this. Thanks

    1. Meen

      Hey raj,
      Congrats .
      Dnt wrry evrythng wil b fine
      Can u pls tell us ur receipt no . Bcoz lot us are still in initial review.

    2. Narasimha

      Great..Raj..congrats…they said approved that’s it you can drop this into VFS they can stamp and give with 2 days…all the best

  22. Shruti

    Hey Saurab
    I was previously on H4 on Nov 7 my H1b got approved and I have applied for ssn but till today I didn’t get one. When I asked the lady in ssn office she says to get a EAD, which I don’t have. when I asked the same to my consultant he says to show the I 797 receipt . But the ssn people say they need the card without that we can’t issue your ssn. What should I do? Urgent help need. I appreciate it

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