Whats after USCIS approval for H1B

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

In Apply H1B Visa by Kumar524 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 ( 524 )

  1. L1 to H1B

    Hi Kumar,
    Currently I am in US on L1B status valid until mid 2018.
    My H1B petition got approved with consular processing in October 2018. It was applied with Consular processing to avoid the restriction on overseas travels as I had some planned out of country travels in August 2018.
    Now, can my attorney file amendment to change/transfer my L1B to approved H1B petition/I129 ? I do not have any immediate plan to travel out of country so do not really want to go out of country just for visa stamping.
    My employer is same, customer is also same for last few years and for next few years.
    Please suggest. Thanks in advance!!!

  2. Las

    I applied for H1B in May and got an RFE on it which i completed in August. I didn’t hear back and got transferred to another country. My H1-B just got approved last week (before I left the US). The lawyers are sending me the packet but I haven’t heard of a case like mine before. My question is:

    1. How long can I wait before stamping my H1-B visa and will it still be valid? I want to know if I can defer it or wait a year before stamping because I would like to have the experience in this new country.

    Please help if you know the answer

  3. ThisIsTooMuch

    Finally relieved ,
    Guys Im happy to share that my H1b got approved on Oct 18. The wait has been really tough and I thank this forum for enormous amount of help through the discussions. I hope people waiting for the decision get it at the earliest
    Non AD, WAC, Received on May 12, Approved on Oct 18.
    Not updated on Worktheme and egov . I have checked it on the uscis my account page.

  4. Saptarshi Das

    I have got my receipt number back in May 2018. I am getting some error when trying to track the status in the USCIS site but my employer assured that the petition has been successfully filled and this year the status page is not work properly. So I am unable track the status.
    So can you please let me know when can expect some news (approval/RFP) on my petition keeping the current affairs in mind?

    1. administrator

      You just need to wait, there is no SLA. It can take few weeks to few months…You can ask your employer to give you a copy of the receipt to be sure, it is right one you are trying. Sometimes, the system is not up to date.

  5. Shankar Velli

    I have received my EAC number long time back but have not heard anything after that. Is there any last date for getting an RFE or H1B approval? The working start date is 1 Oct. Is it possible that no reply comes ffrom USCIS even after 1 Oct??

    1. administrator

      No specific timeline is given by USCIS for decisions…logically, you are right, they have to come by October 1st, but with the load, they often delay and does not happen on time. Unfortunately, the only thing you can do is wait…

  6. VKC

    Hi, I have some confusion regarding the I-797C approval notice. Appreciate if someone could answer it.

    I am on F-1 OPT and my employer handed me a copy of my H1B approval notice (I-797C) in June of 2018. I took it to DMV yesterday to extend my driving license as my OPT expires in August 2018. DMV asked me for an I-94 update and an original copy of I-797.

    What is an original copy of I797 with I-94 update?? Am I supposed to get another letter regarding my H1B approval which updates my status to H-1 on my I-94??

    Thanks in advance,

  7. Ushaan


    I Got my h1b from my previous employer A on Feb 2013 and expired on Dec 2013. I got it stamped but never travelled on it. Then I filed for transfer with my current employer B. I got my approved petition in Jan 2017 and it’s valid till Dec 2018. I have 3queries reg the same
    1) if my current client doesnt agree for stamping n if there is a new client offering me a job, I know I shd do amendment with the new client.. Can I do stamping with the new client itself or shd it be done from old client only?

    2) if I do the stamping frm either of dem, n stamping dates are greater than petition dates, will there be any issues in future.

    3) when should I possibly go for extension? Before Dec 2018


  8. Traveling

    I’m currently working in the U.S. under OPT status. My H1B petition got selected this year in the lottery, and I am waiting for the approval. I’m planning to travel to Canada in August (I’m not Canadian), and am wondering if I can reenter the U.S. after my petition is approved. For example, if I get approval in July, can I travel to Canada in August and reenter the U.S.? I live in the U.S. now.
    Thank you.

  9. Shankar Velli

    What is the Visa stamping process for people already working in US and have been picked in H1B lottery? I have received my EAC number yesterday and my OPT date is also extended in SEVIS portal, so I assume I have been picked in lottery. I am on F1-OPT and work for a US employer. Will I have to go to India for H1B stamping after I get H1B approval letter? Will the dates as mentioned in this article of 90 days and 10 days prior to Oct 1st be applicable?

    1. administrator

      If your employer has filed the petition with Change of Status, then your F1 will automatically switch to H1B and the I-94 attached to your approval notice will be your new I-94 for status. If it was filed as consular processing, then you will need to go and get H1B stamping and re-enter on H1B status. You can go for stamping 90 days before start date and enter 10 days before start date.

  10. Lokesh


    My company applied H1B for me and it got picked on April 28, 2018. Now I am on STEM OPT and I am planning to go to India for my marriage on Jun 20 and I will be back on July 15. My question is, is it safe to travel to India at this point of time ? If it is possible to go to India, what are the steps I need take. Please suggest me ..


  11. Tiji Annie Abraham


    I recieved the status update that my case has been approved on dec 2017 and its been over 3 months now , we haven’t recieved the approval notice. what is going on and what should we do.

    I enquired with our sponsor but they have asked us to stay positive as it is still in processing. I am confused because the next round of H1B applications have started. So what happens to the previous years approved H1B applications that are not completed.

  12. naveen

    my X employer filled my h1b for future employment its got picked but from july i am working in A company fulltime permanent position,
    my h1b case picked up but got RFE, my employer submitted docs,though today my h1b got denied,, so what should i do can i reapply for second petition or MTR or any suggestions plzzz

  13. Vivek


    My H1B was approved on Nov 29th (Premium Processing). The status online currently says “Case Was Approved And My Decision Was Emailed”. I want to know what exactly is emailed. Is it the i797 itself that is emailed, or just a notification saying it was approved.

    Also, what is referred to as Approval Notice? Is the i797 also called approval notice, or is approval notice another independent document besides the i797.


    1. Ram

      max 2 weeks it would reach the Attorney. Congrats on your Approval!you must receive I797A(if filed in COS) or I797B if filed in consular processing. It would state clearly that your visa has been approved and the visa validity period is mentioned in it. This is the Approval notice and nothing else is sent.

      1. suggestion

        @Ram if you are the admin , I would like to give a suggestion for the page . Create a pinned FAQ section where most frequent questions and answers are pinned . so that your work will be easier .

        1. administrator

          It is a good idea. But, the fact is most of the info is already on the site as articles, but still people ask it again. Creating a page like that may help few, but I am afraid, everyone will continue to ask…

  14. Saurabh Sappal

    Hello Saurabh,

    My H1-B status shows approved awaiting the official letter by mail. I have a work related travel coming up in the first week of October when I would ideally change status from F1 to H1-B. Should I take an appointment in US consulate of the country I am visiting or my best chance would be to go to India all during one trip and get it done? Or, Should I get it done beforehand during September, 2017 before flying out or is it going to be too ambitious?

    If you could answer that for me.
    Thank you.



    Please respond to this question.

    I’m on OPT and currently working as a full-time employee in Company A, another Company B filed my H1B Change of Status and I got RFE which is to be submitted in Mid October,

    Suppose If I get approval in NOVEMBER, Can I wait and work with company A for few days and join Company B? or How many days will I have to switch to H1B employer?

    If the answer is zero days then,
    What is the start date?
    Card issue date? or there is gonna be a start date?

    Thank you in advance for reply.

  16. Kavi


    I have approved H1B petition with validity till 30 Dec 2017, which is not stamped yet. My previous employer couldn’t process it for an year, so i changed my employer recently. Now the new employer told that they can process it. I want to know the processing steps on this scenario, and the processing time. Currently i am in India working with my new employer.

    Appreciate your valuable reply in advance,

    1. Ram

      Your new company has to initiate transfer of Visa. Once transfer is approved, you can travel to USA. It takes 6-8 months in normal processing for approval. Since your existing Visa is about to expire, you may have to file extension too. As of 08/30/17 Premium processing for H1B has been suspended. Hence you can file it only in normal processing.

  17. Rajdeep Singh

    Hey.. i am shortlisted for H1B & awaiting a response. By when do i get a clarity on status of my visa. My online status shows ” name updated for I 129 on July 21st”.

  18. Swaraja

    I am already working in US with some valid work visa, This year applied for H1B visa and got approval notice, from October 1st.

    Can I simply apply for Change of status now and go for stamping next year 2018, planning for a trip on Summer time ?

    Or Stamping is must to work from October 1st ?

    1. Ram

      you can apply Change of status and start working on H1B once approved. Later when you leave and reenter US, you can get your H1B stamping.

  19. Piyali

    Hi there, can someone please clarify when do I need to go for my H1-B extension. I recently got my Amended petition Approval Notice from USCIS which is valid till 04/11/2018. My passport stamping is valid till 07/31/2018. I was asked to apply for extension 6 months before the vis expiration date. I am confused now, which date I need to consider to apply for extension. Will that 6 months before 07/31/2018 or 6 months before 04/11/2018?

    Much appreciated is someone clarifies.

  20. Ashwini

    Hi Saurabh,

    My case got picked up in lottery and I am still waiting for visa approval. However, I have dependent H4 visa on my husband’s H1B. Can I enter US on my H4 (and is it advisable??) and till date what date my H4 remains valid if H1B is approved. Within how many days of approval do I have to come back to my home country for stamping?

    1. Ram

      Has your H1B been filed as COS(From H4 to H1B)? If not, you can enter US on H4 when H1B is in progress. Once H1B is approved, you can come anytime back(Depends on requirement your Employer has) to your home country, get your stamping and re enter US on H1B.
      If your H1B has not been filed as COS, then your H4 remains valid till the date of expiry provided during Visa stamping.
      If H1B is filed in COS, then H4 becomes invalid on the start date of your H1B. If filed in COS, you need not come back for stamping and get stamping when you leave US.

      1. Sowmya

        Hi Ram,

        After my H-1B visa is approved and when I get a stamping done from my home country and re-enter states, is there any time period that I need to work in the US in H-1B visa?

        I am asking this questions as I am planning to go back to my home country after few months. But I might want to come back to US after a year or two.

        In this case, will my H-1B visa be valid?

        1. Ram

          As long as your H1B Visa has not expired, you can legally stay in US and work. There is a minimum requirement of time period in which you will have to stay and work.
          You can re enter US on H1B if you have not fully utilized your 6 years of time.

          1. Sowmya

            Hi Ram,

            Thanks for your response.

            Do you know what is the minimum requirement of time period in which you will have to stay and work in US, the first time you get your H-1B Visa approved?


  21. Miguel

    If I am on working in the US on a F1 Visa. Once I apply for a H1B visa stamping. Do I need to go back to my country to get my passport stamped? Or Can I get that stamp on a consulate?

    1. administrator

      H1B visa stamping is usually done either in border countries or your home country. Some consulate in border countries like Canada offer stamping, some do not. It is advised to go to home country to avoid issues…but some prefer stamping in canada , etc…it is purely an option of choice. You should check with the embassy in neighbouring countries if they allow stamping or not for your country of origin and visa type.

      1. Miguel

        I am working on an F1 visa. How many days approx. would I need to travel back to my country, go to an embassy or consulate, get the stamp and come back to continue working for the same company?

  22. H1b Visa

    Hi ,
    If my case is approved. Is it possible to switch to other company before i go for Visa Stamping . If yes what all the Process we need to perform .

    Actually my company wanted me to work with them now after they got to know my H1b lottory is picked . Please answer

  23. marione_isabela

    Hi, I received my receipt notice last April 11, 2017 but still haven’t got any updates as of today. How many days does it typically take for the H1b visa to be approved? Also, it says that you can only travel to the US 10 days before Oct 1st, but since I have a tourist visa which is good for 10 years, can I use it so that I can go earlier to the US?

    1. administrator


      It may take few months. Now that everyone has received their receipts, they will start processing the petitions starting w/ the earliest ones that were receipted.

      1. marione_isabela

        Hi Saurabh,

        Thanks for the response. What are the chances that the petition gets denied? What are usually the grounds for denial?


  24. H1b Question

    Hi Saurabh,

    My case is approved fror FY18. After aproval howmany days it will take to get my signed LCA and final docs.

    I want to change my location as my LCA filed with old location. Howmuch time it will take to get my signed LCA and location change and final docs?

    FYI i am first timer got selected in lottery filed under non AD category from US giant MNC.


    1. administrator

      H1b Question,

      Once approved, the petition document should be received by attorney within 1-2 weeks (SLA is 30 days). They can get the new LCA processed even now and file amendment soon after approval notice has been received.

  25. Steve


    Have another question for you.

    If my h1b for FY18 is approved, can i reserved it to use it at a later time? For example: If i join a non-profit now for a cap-exempt h1b, and then let say 2 years from now. I want to switch to a for profit company, would i able to apply with a cap-exempt petition with an approval notice from now? (By that time, my current employer must have withdrawn the H1b already).

    1. administrator


      Once the petition has been approved, you can use it as reference for a future cap-exempt for-profit H-1 petition. Some people are of the opinion that you should work for at least sometime in the H-1 status in order to use this petition as reference in future. I have seen experiences that suggest otherwise but you should check w/ an attorney.

  26. Sheik


    My H1B extension/amendment petition got approved on 30-mar-2017 in USCIS website, but i haven’t still (as of 2-May-2017) got the Hard copy of Approved petition and new I94. Now i have to file another amendment for relocation. Is the hard copy of previous petition (with I94) needed (mandatory) to file new amendment.

    1. administrator


      As it has been more than 30 days since it was approved, your attorney should follow-up w/ USCIS about the doc. The new amendment can be applied using old approval notice and amendment’s receipt notice. USCIS can get the details on the amendment using the amendment receipt number.

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