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 notice, when can I apply for 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…
Applying for H1B Visa Stamping after H1B Approval – When?
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 technically plan and apply for H1B Visa Stamping from 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.
When can you travel to US or enter America after H1B Stamping from Consulate?
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.
Flying to USA on H1B – 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