Whats after USCIS approval for H1B

After H1B Visa Approval – What’s next ? Process ? Visa Stamping ?

In H1B Visa by KumarUpdated : 574 Comments

Many of the lucky ones, selected in H1B Visa Lottery and have approved H1B petition notice, might be wondering what are the next steps.. Our previous article covered the typical Steps After H1B Visa Lottery . Now the next questions are like what do I do with the H1B approval notice, when can I apply for visa stamping, when can I work in the US, etc. We will look at the typical steps after the H1B petition is approved by USCIS.

What’s after H1B Approval from USCIS – Next steps?

Typically, once the H1B application was selected in lottery, most of the applicants would have received the petition receipt number along with the receipt notice from their employer either email copy or scan copy of the physical receipt notice from USCIS. You would have used that number to check the status on USCIS website and got to know that your H1B application is approved by USCIS.  If you look at the H1B Case Status info and meaning on USCIS site, it tells you that they will send the approval notice copy to the petitioner or employer/ attorney.  Once the employer receives the approval notice, they would typically send the actual copy of the approval notice from USCIS, so that the applicant can take that and carry to the visa stamping at consular post. If the application was filed in US with a Change of Status, the H1B approval notice would have an updated I-94 attached as well to indicate your valid Change of status and validity of the same.  Having said that, some employers or consulting companies, withhold the actual copy of approval notice for some time so that they can send the same when they need the candidate to travel to US or have leverage to bargain or terms, etc…again, it depends…

When can you apply for H1B Visa Stamping after H1B Approval ? How many days before start date on H1B approval  ?

As per the US Dept. of State Consular processing website, for H1B work visa, you can apply for Visa Stamping up to 90 days before the petition start date. In general, for most of the H1B petitions filed in April 1st week, they would have the start date as October 1st. The reason is that you cannot file for H1B petition before 6 months from the requested start date to work in US. As it was lottery, we can safely assume that most of the new H1B petitions start date would be October 1st.  Assuming your start date is October 1st, you can plan and apply for H1B Visa Stamping anytime on or after July 1st.  The visa slots at US consulates can be tricky with demand, I suggest you plan early and apply for your H1B visa stamping at US consulates as early as you can to avoid last minute delays.  Also, not all H1B stamping appointments result in successful stamping, some may get 221(g) query from the Visa Consular officer (blue, white, yellow) asking to submit documents, so plan accordingly, so that you get time to submit these documents and are ready to start working from October 1st. We have put up these steps in the below chart for your reference.

When can you enter US on H1B after Visa Stamping from US Consulate to work in US?

As per US Department of State, You can enter US on H1B only 10 days prior to your H1B start date on your approval notice (I-797 form).  Technically, what it means is that, if your H1B start date is October 1st, then you can enter America on or after September 20th on H1B Visa.  These 10 days rule to enter US and 90 days rule for applying for H1B stamping has been same for the past few years, you can check our previous article indicating the H1B stamping details and US entering criteria to get some perspective.

It is always good to put it in a picture to understand easily. Below are the steps as a flow chart.

After H1B Approval Notice – Process Next Steps

Flying to USA on H1B Visa  : pre-departure checklist- What you should do in your home country?

If you are flying to America for the first time on H1B visa, there are quite a few things that you can do in your home country to make your life easy in USA and maybe save some money too…We have written an article covering booking tickets, health checkup, driving license, list of things to carry, etc. You should read the article Pre-departure checklist and Things to do before you enter US on H1B

Did I miss anything ?  Add your thoughts…

Reference : US Dept of State official – US Travel Docs H1B Stamping FAQs 

   

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Comments ( 574 )

  1. Karthik

    Hi Kumar,
    My friend who is in US on H4 visa recently got her H1-B petition approved. Does she have couple of months before she can actually join her employer or initiate a transfer to a new employer? Will it create a problem for her if she doesn’t join her employer immediately after approval?

    1. administrator
      Kumar

      Was it filed with COS or Consular processing ? if COS, she needs to work immediately as she needs to maintain status on H1B. If consular processing, then there is no need to join immediately.

      1. Karthik

        Thanks Kumar. How to identify if it is COS or consular processing?
        Her Approved Petition does not have any I-94 attached to it. Does it give any indication ?

  2. Tirumala

    Hi Kumar, My H1b petition got approved and validity period is till Dec 31st 2019. i have only 3 months time, now i am eligible to for VISA stamping? or possible to travel US. please guide me.

    validity period: 1st Oct 2019 to Dec 31st 2019

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