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

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 ?

[Updated 6/13/2011 – Thanks to Saurabh for reporting the changes ! ]

As per VFS 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 and have applied for a revalidation.


Summary: When to apply for H1B visa stamping after approval ?

[Updated 6/13/2011] VFS is the primary service provider for bo oking  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.

Also, as the information has changed  recently,  Please call the US Consulate or visa service provider  like VFS 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 at US Embassy from Chennai H1B rights

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.

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447 comments… add one

  • Anitha Sep 9, 2015 Reply

    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.

  • Marco Jun 21, 2015 Reply

    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?

  • Ganesh Palani Jun 18, 2015 Reply

    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

  • H1b2016_2ndAttempt Jun 12, 2015 Reply

    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.

  • David Zhang Nov 12, 2014 Reply

    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..

  • Nits Jul 18, 2014 Reply

    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?

  • DJ072014 Jul 12, 2014 Reply

    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) ?

    • Kirti Nov 19, 2014 Reply

      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.

  • Raj Jun 24, 2014 Reply

    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

    • Meen Jun 25, 2014 Reply

      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.

    • Narasimha Jun 25, 2014 Reply

      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

  • Shruti Feb 18, 2014 Reply

    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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