Entering USA on H1B Visa First time Checklist

Entering USA on H1B Visa – First time ? Checklist, POE Process, FAQs

In H1B Visa by KumarUpdated : 13 Comments

Many of the lucky ones, who got picked in H1B Visa lottery, approved and stamped are one step away from entering USA.  This article will focus on information to help you with the next steps and some of the key things that will matter to you, if you are entering USA for the first time on H1B Visa status.

When can you enter USA on H1B visa ?

You can enter USA only 10 days prior to your H1B start date on your I-797 approval.  Say, if your start date on I-797 is October 1st, 2018, then you can enter USA only after September 20th, 2018.  Technically you are good to go now as we are close to that date. You can read all the details – H1B Visa – When to Apply stamping, Enter USA

Things to do in your home country before entering USA, What should I carry?

There are many things that you can do before entering USA on H1B to avoid some hassles and maybe save some money. These are things like Health Checkup, Dental Checkup, Eye checkup.  Also, there are things like what you can buy in home country and carry them to USA. Some of the things are not required to carry. Read these articles

Health Insurance for Travel to US : Having visitors health insurance is important for you as H1B holder to avoid any unforeseen health conditions, when you are on transit to USA and in the first couple of weeks until your employer provides you Health Insurance. It is always a good idea to get Health Insurance from a US vendor, who can support you, when you are in US. We recommend Buying Visitors Insurance at Visitors Coverage – Visitors Insurance as they have US phone support and you can compare all insurance plans to buy cheapest that fits your need.

Port of Entry ( POE) – Process, Documents checklist

The process is pretty simple and straight forward, you will need to fill up a customs declaration form with the information on what you are carrying to USA. Also, previously you were mandated to fill a paper I-94 form, but for most part, it is electronic now and no need to do this.   You will get down from airline, stand in a queue to have a quick interview with CBP officer ( customs and border protection officer ), who can ask you some general questions on your status, where you are going, etc.  He is the one who decides, if you can enter the USA or not. If he is not sure, he will send you for secondary inspection.  You will have to make sure you carry all the documents required. Read  Checklist of Documents for Port of Entry process .  The CBP officer will stamp your passport and put a date and status of your visa, just check the visa status he puts in.  Once it is done, you will have to pick up your luggage bags and then go through the customs. You may be questioned by customs randomly to open bags or if they sense something is wrong. After that you are good to get out of airport… Welcome to America !

Things to do after Entering USA?

To make your life easier without hassles, it is good to take care of all the logistics, in the first week . You need to  do quite a few things like updating employer, open bank account, apply for SSN, get health insurance, apply for state ID, etc. Read this article List of things to do after Entering USA

Also, I recommend you check out the things that you are not supposed to do in USA.

Did I miss anything ?  What are your thoughts and experiences ?


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Comments ( 13 )

  1. Siya

    Please help me!
    I was on L2 visa and my husband has L1 visa, in 2017 We filed my H1 visa , now I came US With the stamped H1b visa, my husband is still on L1, now my question is currently I am finding jo. do I need to start job from day 1? Or I have period of 60days? Or do I need to do change of status and covert my visa to L2? What should be done now?

    1. administrator

      If you entered US on H1B visa, indicating the same at Port of entry, you are on H1B visa and you need to be employed from the day you entered ( maybe max few days here and there). You do not have any grace period to start working. Talk to your employer and attorney and handle it. If you are not employed, you can do COS to L2 and work on L2 EAD.

  2. Vivek

    Hi, need a help with my travel plan.

    My visa status : I am currently on my H1B visa. I received my visa a few months back, and I haven’t left the USA ever since I got my visa. Which means my passport HAS NOT been stamped yet. My home country is India.

    My travel : I intend to travel to Canada for 1 week by sea (cruise) and I was wondering if I need to get my passport stamped in order to re-enter USA.

    I was going through the DHS website and came across what they call as Automatic Revalidation, where in, while on H1B, it is not needed to get my passport stamped, if I travel to Canada or Mexico, provided the duration of my travel is less that 30 days, which it is, in my case.


    Can anybody please confirm this?


  3. PRIYA

    Hello Admin,

    Need your help with this situation. I have my petition approved since 2015 but did not travel due to personal reasons.

    My company is ready to send me to US now . My Petition expires in June 2018. Is it safe to go for stamping and at the PoE in May,2018 ?
    I work for a big MNC and my company will be filing for extension as soon as i reach to US.

    Thank you !

    1. administrator

      It is absolutely fine. They will ask for updated LCA and other current letters that are tied to your petition as the old ones may not be valid. Make sure you carry all of the new ones. You cannot really predict the outcome of Visa interviews as they have many aspects and we do not know what VO looks. But, in general, as long as you have current documentation, you should be fine.

  4. Sean bradford

    Yes — do read the checklist of documents for the port of entry process. Can’t underestimate that — nor any part of the process!
    Thank you so much for sharing all this vital visa info:)

  5. Sean bradford

    These H1B visa checklist and FAQs are so appreciated — thank you.
    Even if things seem ‘straightforward,’ you can never be too careful!

  6. Nik

    Hi redbus2us team,

    I have a question and I would appreciate if you can answer my query.
    I am travelling to USA next week and as per my employer my insurance will start from 1st of December as per insurance company rules. My question is, shall I get a travel insurance for the initial days on my own? Is it required as a part of documents to be shown at immigration?

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