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First-time H1B visa stamping COS: Canada or Mexico? Home Country ?

With the ever changing H1B visa petition rules, getting H1B approval notice from USCIS is one hurdle and then getting H1B visa stamping is another big hurdle. This article explains few scenarios and helps you throw some information about visa stamping in Canada, Mexico, Bahamas or your Home country. This article assumes you are in US on a visa and did a change of status to H1B visa and worked in US or plan to work in US after re-entering US.

This article was written in the past and some info may NOT be accurate. Please check the respective websites of US consulates for current information.

Info on Change of Status(COS) from F1 to H1B , H4 to H1B, L1 to H1B, etc.

If you are in US on F1 visa, L1 Visa, H4 visa or any other visa and apply for H1B visa through a H1B visa sponsoring employer and get H1B approval notice and if you start working or you intend to start working after you leave US and re-enter US, you will need to get your H1B visa stamping done. The sentence seems confusing; bottom-line if you leave USA without any H1B visa stamping and re-enter US on H1B status then you need to have H1B visa stamped to work in US.  You can keep working in US  and do a Change of status without getting visa stamping done as long as you do not leave the country and try to re-enter.  If you are in US you have few options either get visa stamping in a neighboring country like Canada or Bahamas.

Why Cannot you go for First time H1B visa stamping to Mexico ?

You cannot go to Mexico for first time H1B visa stamping or any kind of Change of Status. You can only go to Mexico for renewals only. People used to be able to get change of visa stamped before( I got my first H1B in Mexico too), but NOT now.     The Mexican Immigration website of Tijuana and Matamoros clearly says that Third Country nationals(TCNs) cannot apply for change of status visa stamping.

Here is exactly what it says in immigration website of Tijuana

“ Who Can Apply in Mexico

  • TCN Applicants residing in the United States, seeking to renew their visa in any category except B1/2 (tourist/business) or H-2 (temporary or seasonal workers). A spouse or dependent children may apply with the principal visa holder if the principal meets the criteria above.  A renewal is a case where an applicant for the same type of visa is made and does not include persons who seek to change from one visa category to another or who are seeking any other type of “change of status” even if that change has been authorized by the Department of Homeland Security.”

Please read “Who can Apply in Mexico” Section in the immigration websites below.

Can you go to First time H1B visa stamping in Canada ?

This is a very confusing question for everyone, can we go to Canada then for first time H1B visa stamping. The reality is, there is no rule or any condition written anywhere just like on US Mexico Consulate website on US Canadian Consulate general website. The consulate general website mentions that H1B visa holder required documents and puts in a clause at the end : “Consular officers in Canada may refuse to issue a visa to H-1B applicants if their education and /or work experience is solely or predominantly from a country other than the U.S. or Canada”

What they are trying to say is it can create issues if you have full education or experience in your Home country. This is a typical case for L1 to H1B conversion or H4 to H1B visa conversion people. It is a caution to someone who did not study in US or work in US to avoid if you can.

Please read the below

Can you go to First time H1B Visa stamping in Bahamas ?

Yes you can. There is no rules as of now like Mexico.  I know few of my friends who went to Bahamas for Visa stamping last year. One went for F1 to H1B visa and other for L1 to H1B visa. They had to get Bahamas visa to go there too.  You should call the Bahamas Embassy under the new rules they mention on their site before you book an appointment.  You can read the details below

Summary: Where to go Canada, Mexico, Bahamas or Home Country for first time H1B visa stamping or Change of status?

As you cannot go to Mexico, it is out of picture. Next option is for Canada, see it is risky in Canada if you do not have US education or experience in US as they clearly mention on consulate site of Canada. Personally, Bahamas seems promising as I have not heard any issues. Bahamas is something to consider. You will have to defend your visa interview though with full documentation and any questions though.  What my understanding after reading many blogs and other info in many forums is : it is recommended to go to Home country for change of status or First time H1B visa stamping. The reason is, it is much easy to verify your education certificates, work related certificates etc if you have from your home country.

Important: You need to contact the US consulate for up to date information or to find any changes in rules.

Image Credit :http://www.flickr.com/photos/naystin/392302587/


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  1. Hello Saurabh,

    H1 – approved on Jun 28th – I94 – Oct 1 2013 to Sep 2016.
    H4 withdrawal letter reached USCIS on Sep 30th 2013.
    H4 – approved on Oct 3rd – I94 – Jul 30 2013 to Jul 29 2016.

    My wife’s H4 extension was filed because it was expiring by July. Meanwhile my wife found an employer who filed a H1 for her and it got approved on Jun 28th. My Employer’s Attorney sent a H4 withdrawal letter which reached USCIS on Sep 30th.

    Not looking at the withdrawal, USCIS approved H4 petition on Oct 3rd. While I understand the last action rule, but how does it apply here when we sent the withdrawal letter before H4 approval?

    1) We went to SSN office on Oct 17th (after Government reopened), my wife was told that she is showing as H4 status after doing additional verification with DHS.
    2) We spoke to USCIS by phone and also by visiting their field office. They promised us a response on withdrawal, but today we received a plain letter stating they can’t disclose any information with us due to privacy act.

    What would we do to fix this now? Is another COS mandatory? Is there an option for her to get H1 stamping in Canada without filing another COS? Not sure how successful will be the latter option.

    Your response is greatly appreciated.

  2. Hi

    I got my 1st h1b stamping from Chennai and got my next stamping in 2007 in Mexico. After that I was never out of the country, can I go to Mexico for stamping ? In US consulate website, it says like this :

    Applicants who obtained their current visa in a country other than that of their legal residence.

    So am I ineligible to go to Mexico for stamping ?

  3. Hi Kumar,

    I got my 2008 H1B reinstated (used only 3 months in 2009) in 2013. I got status changed from F-1 (did MBA, MS in Boston from 2010-2012). I am working as contractor, not full time. My reinstatement was rejected once, but then re-applied with more evidence and was then approved.

    Where do you suggest I go for stamping? From your post & threads sounds like Canada?


  4. Hi Saurabh,

    I moved to US last year on H1B valid for 1 year. This year I have changed my employer to a small firm with H1B valid for 3 years. I want to go to India for my marriage in next Jan. My first H1b stamping is valid for another 1 month. Do you think I can visit India within this month and avoid stamping? or since I have changed my employer I need to go for stamping? If so, can I go to Canada for stamping? I am in EVC model and my client is one of the top 3 IT firms in US. Please help me.
    Thanks in advance!

  5. I think Bahamas is also not applicable for first time H1B stamping


    Applicants are encouraged to read this in entirety before scheduling your visa interview at Embassy Nassau.
    As of January 2012, Embassy Nassau will accept interview applications from third country nationals for the following visa categories:
    • Petition-based F1, H1B, J1, L1, M1, O1, P1, P2, P3, and R1 renewals, only when initial adjudication was conducted in applicant’s home country

    B1/B2 – first time and renewals
    E3 – renewals only

    Embassy Nassau will not accept interview applications from third country nationals for the following visa categories and cases:

    Petition-based first time applicants
    Applicants who entered the U.S. with a visa issued in their home country and changed status with the Department of Security in the U.S. who seek a new visa in the new visa category.
    Applicants who entered the U.S. in one visa category and are seeking to re-enter the U.S. in a different visa category
    Applicants who have been out of status in the U.S. having violated the terms of their visas or having overstayed the validity indicated on their I-94s

  6. Hi,

    My Home country is India, but currently I am working (employed) in Kenya. Now my H1 got approved, Can I go for Visa stamping from Kenya or do I need to go to my country for Visa Stamping.

    • Surya,
      If you are a Kenyan resident then the usual answer is Yes. However, you should call the US consulate in Kenya and ask about their policies on TCNs (Third Country Nationals).

      • Hi saurabh Urgent attention

        i got my h1b approval in aug 8th 2013 the thing is i work out of india
        the problem is while my employer was sending me the documents he missed i797 document when i asked him about this he told me that i missed it or might be in custom services he said he will apply for another one my quest is
        How much time will it take to get an i797 and does us shut down will make late
        will there be any effect or delay with us shut down
        and one more question is when i asked to the consultate of the country that i need to attend for visa they told you can attend with photocopy so can u please assist me on this

  7. Hi,
    I found the below in Bahamas US consulate website. I donot think one can go to Bahamas to get their visa stamped if it is a status change.
    Embassy Nassau will not accept interview applications from third country nationals for the following visa categories and cases:

    Petition-based first time applicants
    Applicants who entered the U.S. with a visa issued in their home country and changed status with the Department of Security in the U.S. who seek a new visa in the new visa category.
    Applicants who entered the U.S. in one visa category and are seeking to re-enter the U.S. in a different visa category
    Applicants who have been out of status in the U.S. having violated the terms of their visas or having overstayed the validity indicated on their I-94s

  8. Hi Saurabh,

    I have a question regarding the filling of DS 160 application form to apply for an H4 Visa.
    Here is my background I went to USA on F1 visa in Aug 2005 and then changed my visa from F1 to H1b in 2008. Since 2008 I have been working as System Analyst and came to India for vacation in Nov 2012. Attended my first H1b visa stamping in Nov 2012 and received 221G – administrative processing query and the passport was with consulate after the interview process.
    As my visa was under admin process the client side didn’t let me work after Dec 2012. So my last pay stub was generated from the Dec month 2012.
    As the admin processing is taking forever decided to apply for H4 visa. So I have withdraw my passport only but not the administrative process on the H1b Visa.
    Planning to apply for H4 and once I get the visa want to amend my H1b with the new I94 after 30 days of my entering the US.
    1. What should I select as my primary occupation?
    Should I select the “Not Employed” as I have been not working for past 5 months and they are no pay stubs generated and mention the reason as “System Analyst Currently not working due to the 221g admin query?”


    Should I select as “Computer science” from the drop down and key in as System Analyst, but as I am not currently working I will not be able to enter any of the rest of the details (Name, Address, location and Monthly income) . Should I select as “Doesn’t not apply” for all of those”

    By doing so will this effect my H1b – Admin Process.

    2. What should I mention for the Previously Employed – End Date:
    Should I mention the date that is on the H1b receipt end date of sep 2014 ?


    Should I mention the end date of Dec 2012 as that was my last pay stub generated? By typing in these details will it effect my h1b admin processing?

    Thanks in advance.

    • AN,
      1. Does it ask the reason for not employed? IMO, you should just mention not employed as you are currently not working for any employer.
      2. You should mention the end date as the last date of payslip generation.

      I don’t think this should impact the H-1 processing.

      May I ask a question. A lot of people ask me how to withdraw the passport and keep the administrative processing on. You seem to have done that. Can you let me know the exact process.


      • Saurabh,

        Sorry for the late response below is the information for the passport withdrawal.

        Below is the information received from US Travel Docs in an email for the Passport Withdrawal:

        Please be informed, Passport withdrawal request is required to be filed in the form of a written application duly signed by the applicant at any of the Document Drop-Off Locations, along with the reason of withdrawal.

        You can get the details of the Document Drop-Off Locations by following the given link:

        Below is the Letter format that i used and it has to be handwritten:

        May 10th, 2013
        Case No: XXXXXXX XXX 0001
        Passport No: XXXXXX
        Delhi Consulate
        U.S. Embassy Shantipath
        Chanakya Puri
        New Delhi.

        To The Delhi Consulate,

        Subject: Requesting for Withdrawal of My Passport Only to Apply for H4/F1/B1 Visa.
        And want to keep the H1B Visa Application- pending 221g Administrative Processing
        case in still active.

        I want to withdraw my passport only and keep my H1B Visa pending process as still active.

        Reason for Withdrawing Passport: I would like to withdraw my passport only. And want to apply for H4 visa, XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX and I want to support her.

        And I want to keep my H1B Visa – 221g pending case under administrative process as still active for my H1B Visa stamping. I will submit my passport back once the administrative process is completed.

        So I kindly request you to withdraw my passport only. Please accept my appreciation for the time you have invested to review my request.

        Below are my details:
        First Name: XXXXXXXXXXX
        Last Name: XXXXXXXX
        Passport Number: XXXXXXXXXX
        DS 160 Confirmation: AAXXXXXXXX
        Interviewed at: XXXXXXXXXX
        Visa Interview Date: Nov XX, 20XX
        Case Number: XXXXXXX XXX 0001

        Thank You


        Let me know if you have any questions.


        • Hi Saurabh,

          I filled up the letter using your template and submitted it to the OFC center yesterday (Friday Jan 3rd 2014) and was told they will send it to the consulate on monday. Today when i check CEAC site my case last update date has changed to 3rd Jan 2014. I wanted to know if its due to my application of the passport Withdrawal or is the case being looked at. I clearly mentioned in my letter that i just want to withdraw my passport and want to keep the H1B case still active.
          Please advise if you feel the CEAC update is not due to the PPT withdrawal and the case might get some update soon

          • Vineet,
            I think it is b/c of passport withdrawal, but there is no way to say for certain. Wait for their next action.

        • Saurabh,

          I filed for Passport Withdrawal but today the CEAC site show status as “ISSUED”. Do you think its due to the passport Withdrawal or is the Visa actually issued.

          • Vineet,
            In the past I have seen “Issued” when visa has been issued. But your case is little different, and can’t know for sure until you receive the passport.

  9. Hi Saurabh,

    I came here on a L1 visa with a major IT compny and last year I did a COS to H1B and joined a small firm. I recently left that firm and joined a major consulting firm. The firm wants me to go to Europe for work.
    I realize that I’d have to get my visa stamped. How would you rate my chances considering that this is a big firm with a very good reputation. I’d also like to know if it is worth taking the risk?


    • Sambhu,
      Chances of approval are high when the employer is a big firm. However, like w/ any other stamping scenario, always have a back-up plan.

  10. Hi,

    I have done my MBA in US and Have H1B from a fairly large company as a software consultant.
    Previously I had scheduled Visa Stamping in Canada Vancouver for 27th Sep and thought if visiting India in November and was in no Hurry.
    But now I have a ceremony at home my one and only sister is getting engaged in June first week and I don’t want to miss it. Its been 4 year’s I have visited India and have missed out all the functions.
    what are my options, as there is no appointments available in Canada before 11 September 🙁

    thanks for help in advance.

  11. Saurabh,

    I have a question about the change of status. I Came to India recently and attended H1-B visa interview in Nov 2012 and recieved 221g query. Till now i didn’t receive any update from Delhi consulate. Now i am planning for H4 Visa parallely with my H1-B visa pending process as still active.

    1. I have submitted my passport along with the documents to the delhi consulate during my H1-B visa interview. Now i am planning onto withdraw my passport keeping my visa interview active. For passport withdrawal, vfs is asking for a reason. If i specify a reason that i want to apply for H4 visa and hence need a passport back, would that affect my H4 visa interview or existing H1-B visa pending process in any way?

    2. After my H4 visa gets stamped and upon arriving in USA, when can i change my status to another category? Since my H1-b is valid, can i change H4 visa to my previous H1-B status immediately or do i have to wait for couple of months?

    Thanks in advance!

    • VNR,
      1. I am not sure how much that will impact. Can you give another reason like you want to travel to another country, or don’t want your passport to be left w/ the consulate for so long?
      2. It may be better to wait for at least 30 days before filing COS. If you want to work for current employer, then it will just be COS filing which can take 2-3 months (no PP option). If you want to change employer then it will cap-exempt petition + COS, which can take 2-4 months (PP option available). You can start working on H-1 once COS gets approved.

  12. Hi Saurabh

    I am currently on F1-OPT, OPT valid till Nov 2013 and visa valid till Dec 2013. I got h1b approval in April 2013 and my H1b will starts on Oct 2013. I have a masters degree from US so I can do my H1b stamping right from Canada, right? I am currently working on EVC model so how’s possibility to get successfully H1b stamping from Canada?

    If I go to Canada on 2nd week on oct and I don’t get h1b stamping, then can I still enter to USA while having a visa valid till Dec 2013?

    • Yogesh,
      Yes, you can go to CA for stamping as you have done Masters in US. However, you are in EVC model, so you need to have contingency plans in case 221g is issued. Chances of 221g are higher when working in EVC model.

      • Saurabh, my OPT is valid till June 2013 and H1B is approved to start on October 1st, 2013. I am therefore on Cap-Gap Extension.
        1) Can I get first time H1B visa stamping in Canada in October? I am an Indian national.
        2) Can I apply for Canada temporary visa and schedule my H1B visa interview before October 1st for interview in October?

        • VIsa STamping,
          1. If you have done Masters in US, then it is still ok to go to CA for stamping. Like w/ any other stamping in any country, make sure to have back-up plans in case your case gets delayed.
          2. When you are on cap-gap, you are advised not to travel as you cannot return on F-1/OPT. You can only return on H-1 and the earliest day to do so is Sep 20th. So my suggestion will be to travel after Oct 1. If your H-1 was approved w/ COS, then it will become effective from Oct 1 irrespective of your stamping.

          • Thanks Saurabh. In my second question above, I meant to ask if I can do all the paperwork for Canadian visa and DS160 and interview scheduling before October 1st and travel to Canada after 1st October?

            Also, technically cap gap is just an extension of F1, so I should put student status in USA for Canadian visa application. Is that correct?

          • VIsa STamping,
            Yes, you can do all those pre-work prior to Oct and then appear for stamping later. If you appear for CA visa prior to Oct 1, then yes your status should be mentioned as student.

  13. Hi All..
    I wanted to know if I could go to the Dominican Republic to get my H1b visa stamping in September. I’m currently in the US working on OPT and my h1b was approved and I can continue working, as I fall under the cap gap. 🙂
    How does the change of status work? I’m Honduran and don’t want to go to my home country because its more expensive.
    How long does it take for stamping? Do you think there would be any problems?

  14. Hi Sourabh,

    My wife is doing MS in USA. Currently she is on F1 status. Recently she converted from H4 to F1 status. She doest have any stamping on her passport. We are planning to go to Canada to get F1 stamping. I have following questions

    1. Can she go to canada for getting f1 stamping?
    2. what are chances to get f1 stamping in canada ?

  15. http://nassau.usembassy.gov/tcn.html

    “Applicants are encouraged to read this in entirety before scheduling your visa interview at Embassy Nassau.

    As of January 2012, Embassy Nassau will accept interview applications from third country nationals for the following visa categories:

    Petition-based F1, H1B, J1, L1, M1, O1, P1, P2, P3, and R1 renewals, only when initial adjudication was conducted in applicant’s home country
    Petition- based F2, H4, L2, M2, O2, O3, P4, and R2 renewals, only when the main applicant is renewing with the family member and the initial adjudication was conducted in main applicant’s home country
    B1/B2 – first time and renewals
    E3 – renewals only”

  16. Hi, I have done my masters in the US and working for a big employer in CA. I have to visit the UK for business purpose, is it possible to get my first H1B VISA stamped in the UK ?

    • Mayank,
      It is strongly recommended to get the first visa stamped from home country especially if the person didn’t do Masters in US. I suggest calling up US consulate in UK and ask about their policy on TCNs (third country nationals).

  17. Hi

    I have done my Masters in US and am on H1 status from October. I am planning to go to Carribean for my VISA stamping. Do you think it is safe for first time F1 to H1 candidates?
    Please Suggest.


  18. Hi,

    I came to us in 2010 as h4 visa. I got h1 in 2011 and started working under EC model
    Till2013 jan now I got full time in a big company
    I want to go for stamping in December mostly
    I have a B.Tech degree from India
    Can you suggest going to India for first h1 b stamping us better
    Or going to Canada ?
    What is the risk rate if I go to India?

    • HN,
      If you are working for a big employer then chances of approval are high. As a rule of thumb, one is recommended to go to home country for the first H-1 visa stamping especially if the person hasn’t done Masters in US.

  19. Hi,

    I got my H1 B petition approval in 2012 via consultant but coz USPS didn’t got address they returned it twice.In the meantime i visited my country and i returned back to US in December 2012. Now when i am calling my consultant he is saying nothing is possible because my I-94 got changed. And when i asked you didnt responded to my calls and mails which i did before visiting my home country then he is blaming me. He told you should have went for stamping in your home country.
    Now can anything happen? Is there any possibility to be in a job in US? Or to get renewal once again on my approved pettition with in two three months. I dont want to undergo the same filing procedure again. Please help me if anyone knows what can be done. Help me.

    • Shriya,
      What visa did you use to enter US – H-4? If so, then you are on H-4 visa status. Your employer first needs to get the approved petition, and then file COS from H-4 to H-1. Once approved, you can start working for the new employer. This will take 2-3 months to process.

      If you want to change employer, then that is also possible at this stage.

  20. Hi Saurabh,
    I just got my h1b visa extension for next 3 yrs from a very small company. I changed my status from F1 to H1 and have done CPT in between. It was a part time h1b for 20 hrs a week. My recent visa extention is also for part time h1b.I havent been to my country and I am not leaving because I think they will not stamp my visa. I did MBA in US. Should I go to Canada for visa extention will all of my supporting documents for part time h1b.

    • Deepak Khadka,
      As you have done Masters in US, you can go to CA for H-1 stamping. However, always have contingency plans in case things don’t turn out the way you planned.

  21. Hello Saurabhredbus2us,

    I am studying master’s in a state university here in US and I plan to go to Canada to get my visa stamp as it will help me avoid the long travel to my home country(India). I do not have F- status on my passport as I changed my status from H-4 to F-1 here inside the US and it was also approved.
    In your opinion, is this a good idea?

    • T,
      You can go to CA if you have completed Masters in US even if you don’t have F-1 visa stamped in the passport. However, always have contingency plan in case things don’t go the way planned.

  22. I am filling DS-160 for stamping in canada. I am in US from past 3 years and will continue to be in US as long as my visa expiry. What should I update for question ‘ Have you made specific travel plans?’ Yes / No and if i choose ‘Yes’ I am supposed to provide details of itinerary of my arrival to US and departure and address of stay. If i choose ‘No’ I have to provide Intended Date of Arrival to US and Intended Length of stay in US. Please help.

    • If you are filling DS 160 then that means you are travelling to Canada. So accordingly update your plans. Just mention your intended arrival/departure date.

      Good Luck!

  23. Hi there, I hope I’m not in trouble with this. I was F-1, had OPT, got a form (I-20 I think) to put in passport after H-1b was approved, and started working without stamping or changing the status. I will visit home in Austria for the holidays – can I still get stamp after the H-1b has started?

  24. Hi Saurabh,

    I f I got approved for H1-B, how soon can I go for VISA stamping. And I am on OPT and working right now in US.

    One more question,
    I am on OPT and its valid till Feb’14. If I go to CANADA for stamping and end up with some issues. Can I re-enter US on my OPT.

    Your suggestions on this is really appreciated and thanks in advance.


    • Suresh,
      If your H-1 gets approved w/ COS, then you will be on H-1 status from that approval date. You are not required to attend visa stamping immediately and can continue to work on H-1 until I-94 expiration date. Next time you travel outside US, you will have to go for H-1 visa stamping.

      I assume you have done Masters in US, and so you can go to CA for stamping. If stamping is denied, then you cannot return on OPT as that would cease from the date COS is approved.

  25. Hi,
    I am in US since 2006. I came in on J1 visa & transferred to H1B last year. I have academice H1B visa (not cap). I plan to visit India early next year. I have not travelled out of US since more than 5 years. I believe I need to get H1b stamp before re-entering US. Is it advisable to get stamp from Canada as I know I might be held up for adminstrative processing, or should I do it in India?
    Also, my husband has change of status from J1 to H1b to now O1 visa & needs a stamp too. Can he also get it in Canada? Please advise.

    • Pallavi,
      As this is the first H-1 stamping and you have not done Masters in US, it is better to get it stamped from your home country. If you go to CA, there is a chance that they would ask you to go to home country for stamping.

  26. hello

    i am international medical graduate from india . i applied for B1/B2 u.s. visa from new delhi
    on November 5 2012. but i was not given visa . well i am going to canada on family immigration
    bases in Canada , in Regina city soon .

    i have one elder sister who is U.S. citizen who is residing in New York . who can she invite me in usa
    on sibling immigration bases and how long it will take ( processing time )?

    i studied full laws on sibling immigration bases but could get processing time from canada .

    answer me soon



  27. Hi Saurabh,

    I am currently working on L1b and want to change company, is it possible l1b to h1b cos conversion now or any time in future and when can i start working with new company. The new company has to do my case filing for l1b to h1b cos
    Thanks alot, u do a gr8 job 🙂

    • Pramodh,
      The company can file H-1 only in April 2013 now, w/ start date of Oct 2013. The H-1 quota has been reached for now and will open in April.

  28. I am in USA and wanted to go to Canada for my H1 stamping. So for canada visa application do i have to send original document of my 1-797 and passport. or zerox copy will be ok.

  29. Hi Friends,
    Please help me. Here is my detail and questions.
    I did my Masters from US and after that got OPT now I got H1B approval and my H1b is start from August 1, 2012. My job is direct in the company I mean no third party sponsored or anything, I have to go to India in Mid 2013. My lawyer suggested me to go to Canada for stamping. So my question is should i go to canada and get stamp or should i go to india n get stamp over their. What you think is best for my case. Really appreciated for your help.

    • Shruti,
      As you have done Masters in US, you can go to CA as well for stamping. If your H-1 was approved w/ COS, then there is no immediate need for stamping and you can delay it as long as you dont have to travel outside of US. Also, if your H-1 stamping runs into issues in CA, then you will either have to wait in CA or go to home country for stamping. So make sure to have contingency plans.

  30. hi Saurabh,

    I planing to go to canada for my visa stamping next month can you post sample DS 160 forms OR link for(change of status from F1 to H1B )

  31. Hi Friends,
    Please help me. Here is my detail and questions.
    I did my Masters from US and after that got OPT now I got H1B approval and my H1b is going to start from Oct 1, 2012. My job is direct in the company I mean no EVC model etc, I have to go to India in first week of November. My lawyer suggested me to go to Calgary for stamping in middle of Oct. 2 Years ago i got Canadian visitor visa (now expired). My questions are:
    What reason should i give to Canadian Embassy for visitor visa ? should i tell them about stamping and show them appointment letter of US Embassy or should i need sponsorship from Canada as previously i got from one of my friend ?
    When should i apply for Canadian visa before 1st Oct or after ?
    Calgary will be fine in my case ?
    When i can go to Canada for stamping ? middle of Oct will be good ?

    • Bellyjatt21,
      IMO, you can mention the reason as visa stamping. Lot of people go to CA for stamping and so it should not come as a surprise to them. You should apply for CA visa now, as US visa stamping dates in CA are not available in abundance. This will give you enough room to find appropriate dates to travel to CA and get the visa stamped.

    • I had the same same question. I wrote “other” and mentioned F-1 visa stamping. IT was fine.

      BTW, how was your trip and visa appointment?

  32. Hi Saurabh,

    I had a quick Q for you – I came to US on L2 visa, and later switched to H1B from Oct-2011, and currently working on EVC model from last 1 1/2 years. I need to have my H1B visa stamped. Can I get it done in Canada? Or India is the only option? I’ve a post-grad degree from India and have 10+ years of experience.

    Thanks for your help!

  33. Hi Saurabh,

    This is Naveen , i have started working on H1-B visa from April 2012 and i have got my visa stamped in April when i went to India , and i have got visa stamp until April 2015 . After coming back to USA i have found a better opportunity with other company and i have transferred my H1-B to this company. I am planning to go out of USA next month so do i need to go to visa stamping again or my old visa stamp and new I797 is sufficient in order to comeback to USA again .

    Thanks a lot in advance

    • Naveen,
      The old visa stamp and new 797 should be sufficient when returning to US. You can confirm this w/ your attorney as well.

  34. Hi Saurabh,

    presently, I am in my OPT and my h1 got approved. My opt status is still late november and I am planning to go to my home country but I want to go to stamping before going there.

    what is the best place to go for stamping Bahamas or CA and when is the right time? I am planning to go for stamping in September.

    fyi, I already have stamping till OCT. will it be okay if we go for stamping before the completion period of previous stamping?

    Thanks a lot!!

    • Hello Rcok,
      As far as I know, you can not go Bahamas for first time Stamping (Change of status from F1 to H1B). Read the following information given by Bahamas embassy:
      Embassy Nassau will not accept interview applications from third country nationals for the following visa categories and cases:

      •Petition-based first time applicants
      •Applicants who entered the U.S. with a visa issued in their home country and changed status with the Department of Security in the U.S. who seek a new visa in the new visa category.
      •Applicants who entered the U.S. in one visa category and are seeking to re-enter the U.S. in a different visa category
      •Applicants who have been out of status in the U.S. having violated the terms of their visas or having overstayed the validity indicated on their I-94s

      I would advise you to call to customer service and confirm with them before scheduling visa interview in Bahamas. Hope this info helps you. Good Luck.

  35. Hi,
    A quick question, please help me..
    I got H1B stamped and entered US with first xyz employer, due to some reasons I haven’t started the work with first xyz employer. Meanwhile I got a new offer from an employer and they are ready to file H1 transfer, I don’t have any pay stubs since I never started working for the existing xyz employer. My question is without joining the first employer can I transfer to new employer and started working ? any problem will raise ?

    Thanks in advance..

    • Shiv,
      As you are already in US on H-1, you need to have payslips from XYZ before going for transfer. Not getting paid implies you are not maintaining status. Start getting paid ASAP and ask your employer for back wages.

  36. Saurabh,

    Had a quick question, I came to the US in August ’99 on B1, and then converted to F1 soon after to attend school here in the US. I completed undergraduate and graduate studies here in the US after which my employer filed for my H1B. I am currently on H1B and have not travelled out of country since I came here, and plan to visit Canada, but was wondering would I need to travel to my home country to get a visa stamp on my passport? Or would it be ok if I go to Canada? And how long would it take to receive the visa stamp in Canada?


    • AK,
      As you have done your education in US, you can go to CA as well for the visa stamping. However, one always carry the risk of refusal and rejection when going for stamping in CA. So have contingency plans when going to CA for stamping.

      • Hi!

        I want to get my H1B stamped from Canada. This is my first ever stamping and I am on EVC model. I have a Masters degree from the US.
        Is it a good idea to go to Canada and get it stamped? Can anyone share their experience/ do’s and dont’s with me?
        If the visa gets rejected, can I come back here on a H4 since my husband has a valid H1?


        • Me,
          You have things that are going both for and against you. You have done Masters in US, and so can go to CA. However, you work in EVC model which is the riskier model and carries the risk of 221g.

        • Me,
          If H-1 is not issued, you can return on H-4 visa (unless they cancel the H-4 visa during H-1 visa stamping). Do you already have H-4 visa stamped in the passport?

  37. I’ve applied for my H1b extension to Vermont. Employer submitted all papers on 25th May,2012 but still I dont have tracking/receipt number. Is there any way to contact USCIS for this ?

    Any help is appreciated Saurabh. Thank You.

  38. Hi,

    I’m on h 1 b since last 8 months. Can I switch company with my original resume as my current employer included only companies during my OPT and STEM. As a consultant I worked with A+ clients on different projects so if I highlight in my resume will that be a clash as my earlier resume for H1b included only companies and roles ( no client and associated project info or my work experience as Teaching assistant , Work exp from Home country – 2 year internship and 2 year full time )

    Kindly let me know as I am thinking to move on from Consulting to apply for a full time job with my updated resume and I want to make sure if I should rather continue with my current h1B resume ( only employer details, No project/ past work exp details ) or with the updated resume with complete details.

    Thanks and Regards,

  39. I am currently on J1 visa which will expire on 30th September 2012. My current employer filed my H1B application on 17th April 2012, under normal processing and my H1B case is cap exempt. Till today date my application is under initial review on USCIS sites. The effective date of my new H1B will be 1st Oct 2012. My wife is on J2 and she has work authorization which is valid till 30th September 2012. Her current employer also filled her H1B and she already got her new H1B with I-94 which will be effective from Oct 1st 2012. I wanted to know if I have valid J1 visa stamping and pending H1B status, is it ok to travel abroad and does it pose any problems while reentering US? I have already booked the tickets for myself, my wife and our two kids, to India for July 25th, 2012 to August 15th 2012. Please let me know if it is advisable for both of us to go to our home country during this time and come back on J1 /J2 as we are not planning on applying for the H1-B visa stamp during this trip.

    • Hi Atul,
      I believe if you leave US while your COS is pending, it will be abandoned. Technically you will not have problem while returning back before 30 sep 12, but you will not be able to start job on H1 you will have to get visa stamped to work and reenter, it also holds good for your wife. she will also have to get new H1 stamped.

  40. Hi Saurabh,
    A friend of mine has an expired H1B. 2008 to 2010. She did not travel on the visa. Now she is planning to get married and travel to the US on H4. If she wants to apply for an H1, will it come under the cap again?

    • rongDecisions,
      It will be cap-exempt. If she has copy of that approved petition, that would be best. Else just having the receipt number will also be ok for the new cap-exempt petition.

  41. Hi,

    I am on OPT(F-1 visa) that expires july 31st,2012. Also I have recieved the H1-b approval from USCIS. I understand that the COS kicks in on Oct 1st.

    Now I need to travel to India in September. I will be in cap-gap extn period for the month of Aug and Sep until my status changes from F-1 to H1-b on Oct 1st. Hence I believe I would not be able to come back without an H1-b visa stamped.

    My question is, can I apply for the visa at the consulate in Delhi before Oct 1st and come back ?

    Very much appreciate your help,


    • Manik,
      Yes, you can go for H-1 stamping prior to Oct and then return on or after Sep 20th on stamped H-1 visa. A person can go for H-1 visa stamping at most 90 days prior to H-1 start date.

  42. Hi Saurabh,

    I got RFE for my recent H1B case and now my employer is withdrawing the current application and re-filing my H1B…
    any idea why would they do that?
    are there any chances of approval this time?


    • MB,
      I don’t know the specific reason, but looks like they want to change the basic offered position. You can ask them for the reason. Chances of approval will depend upon your specific case and documents submitted to USCIS.

      • Thanks Saurabh, one last question –
        My H1B visa got approved and I’ll be joining new company from Oct 1st…Can I travel to India on my current L1A visa in Jul-12 and then come back on the same in Aug-12 without getting H1B stamped on my passport…My L1 visa is valid until 2013.


        • MB,
          Yes, you can do that. Even after you return in Aug on L-1A, you will still be on H-1 from Oct 1 based on your earlier COS approval. My suggestion would be drop the I-94 you received when you entered US on L-1A, and keep the one that came along w/ H-1 approval. Reason being your H-1 COS from Oct 1 will be governed by 797 I-94, and it’s good to keep it w/ you. Also check this w/ your H-1 attorney.

  43. Hi Sourabh,
    I have come to US in Dec 2011 in H4 visa. After trying a lot for COS to H1B, I have got a company XYZ who will help me in getting the H1B visa thru their inhouse projects. Post getting H1B approved, I can work from Oct 2012 for my company’s XYZ clients who are in good relation with XYZ and on contract only.

    1.Is it possible for me to search any company on my own interest where I can be a permanent employee also and leave XYZ company?
    2. Since everywhere in the filing documents, XYZ name will be there, will other companies who are not in relation with XYZ, hire me? What could be the problems in getting an employer of my choice.


    • Purvi,
      1. Yes. Once the H-1 w/ XYZ gets approved, another employer can file cap-exempt petition for you. You can then work for the new employer
      2. The new employer will have to file another cap-exempt petition (aka H-1 transfer) which will contain their information.

      You can go to the Archives link in the top nav, and search for topics related to transfer. That will provide more information on this.

  44. Hi Saurabh,

    I foound a pdf for first time H1 B stamping in Bahamas. I am not sure if they allow first time stamping of H1 in Bahamas for non-immigrant workers.

    Who Can Apply at the U.S. Embassy in Nassau?
     Third Country Nationals seeking
    business, tourist, crew or transit visas may apply at Embassy Nassau. However, applicants should be aware that they must apply in person, and that such visas may sometimes take weeks or even months to process. In addition, the Embassy cannot assist Third Country Nationals with Bahamian visa requirements, nor with alternate travel arrangements if their U.S. visa should be delayed or denied.

     Third Country National applicants residing in the United States seeking to renew their student, exchange or temporary employment visa may apply if – and only if – their current such visa was issued at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate in their country of citizenship or legal residence. A spouse or dependent children may apply with the principal visa holder if the principal meets the criteria above.

    Note: a renewal is defined as an application for the same type of visa that the applicant already holds; it specifically does not include cases where a prospective applicant held a different classification of visa (or Visa Waiver status), even if a “change of status” to the new classification was authorized by the Department of Homeland Security.

    Please let me know what does this mean. Can I still go to Bahamas for first time stamping?

    • Abhi,
      As per this document, you cannot. It says that you can go only to renew the visa and when the original visa was issued in home country. So first time stamping doesn’t fall into that category.

  45. Hi saurabh,

    Lets say X goes to canada for stamping of her H1b for the first time (converting from H4)and she/he gets a 221g then can she/he return to US on H4 ?

    • Aditi,
      If the H-4 visa is still valid and the consulate doesn’t keep the passport, then the person can return on H-4 visa.

  46. I am currently in L1 through employer A and I got H1b approved through employer B which is valid from oct 2012. Could you please clarify the following:-
    1) Can I continue in L1 with employer A after Oct 1st?.
    2) How do I know if my H1b is approved with Change of Status?..

    Thanks in advance..

    • B,
      1. If H-1 got approved w/ COS, then you need to start working on H-1 from COS approval date
      2. Check your H-1 797. If there is an I-94 attached, then it has been approved w/ COS. COS effective date will also be mentioned in that I-94

  47. Hi Saurabh,

    I enetered US on L1 B in 2009 and quit my company and got my H1B done in 2010. I changed my employer in Sep 2011 and since then I have been working with my new employer. I am planning to travel to India in June 2012 and would have to go for my H1 B stamping in the mumbai consulate.
    I work with a company A whose sister compny, company B has sponsored my H1 B. However the client has a contract with company A and there are supporting doucmnets to prove that company A owns company B. Client has agreed to provide me the client letter too but the client letter says thers an agreement between Company A and companies(which includes sister companies?? )
    Is it safe to go for H1 stamping now?Has it become any better than last yr? I heard there were some chanegs to teh law that was made last yr about staffing firms. What can I use as suppporting documents to prove employer-employee relationship?

  48. I got H1b approval in 9th May 2012. my J1 visa will expire on 25th May (1 month after date expire). I don’t need visa stamp if i don’ t leave USA as far as i know. If i leave USA i need to apply for visa stamp from my home country. My question is ” should i go back to my country for H1b visa stamp before my current visa expire? and come back? or it does not matter i can do it latter on whenever i want?

    please help me by giving me information

    • Azmir Hossin,
      Was your H-1 approved for FY-13? If yes, then it’s start date would be Oct 1. When is your J-1 I-94 expiring? Do you know if H-1 was approved w/ COS?

      • Hi Saurabh,
        Under Exemption. According to my petition my day started from 1st May 2012 and J1 will be expired in 25th May 2012.

        I have a question please

        Is it ok, if i go to visit my Family in my home country and apply for H1b stamp from local USA Embassy? I have traveled almost allover the world Asia , Europe, Africa many times . I never had any visa problem. Do you have any suggestion?

        My Law firm forwarded a document on international traveling. Based on that I have all the relevant documents and supporting to get a visa stamp from my home country Bangladesh.

        Thanks you

      • Azmir Hossin,
        If your H-1 was approved w/ COS w/ exemption w/ start date of May 1, then you don’t need to go for stamping immediately. You can delay as long as you want and continue to stay and work in US based on your approved petition.

        You can go for visa stamping in your home country. However, there is always a risk associated w/ the stamping and you should never consider the stamping too safe. Have contingency plans when going for stamping.

  49. hi Sourabh:

    I got my PhD in US in chemical sciences ( F1 student visa) , then worked as a postdoc (H1B educational institute) and now i am employed in biotech. ( H1B) . I would like to get my visa stamped in my passport. Is canada a good option for me?

    • Kannan,
      As you have done your education in US, you can go to CA for H-1 stamping. However, make contingency plans in case things don’t turn out the way planned.

      • hey thanks..
        also, I have another question. I have a valid H1B . I am planning to go to india and get it stamped. Will i need a transit visa if i go through london

        • Kannan,
          I remember sometime ago transit visa was a must if there was no unexpired visa in the passport. If you have an unexpired visa in the passport, then there is no need to worry. Otherwise you will have to check w/ the airline if an unexpired visa is still the requirement.

      • Saurabh,

        For travelling to Canada for the 1st time H1b visa stamp, if there is a check on your visa, and you have to wait for 3 weeks, within this waiting period, can you still go back to United States without the H1b visa stamp on your passport?



        • Bo,
          You need a visa to return to US. If your passport is not submitted to the consulate, then what visa will you use to return to US?

  50. Hi Saurabh,

    My wife is currently in US on H4 visa, she came to US in Feb 2012 but she received H1B approval in December 2011 through a Desi Consulting firm. But by that time we already booked the appointment date with US embassy and came here on H4. Now she received her approved I797 (H1B) from her employer and we are trying to figure out options to file a change in status without going out of the country. We filled I539 form and sent it to USCIS but it got rejected saying: not the right form. If we try to fill the I539 form electronically we don’t even get an option in the dropdown for H1B (in the new status requested).
    1. Do we actually need to fill I539 in this case (change of status from H4 to H1) or her Employer need to file a fresh I129(without cap, since the H1B is already approved)?

    2. Do you think changing employer is a good idea, she is getting calls from other desi firms who are charging $1200 to transfer her H1B in premium (but we don’t have any pay stubs since she never started working for the existing firm)?

    3. Since I have a work permit of canada and she has dependent visa for Canada..Do you think going to Canada and getting the H1B stamped is a better idea. She did not went to school in US and she never worked here before.

    Thanks a lot in Advance.

    • Vikas,
      1. I-539 is the correct form for COS. Check w/ your employer’s attorney if some other form needs to be used. Maybe H-1 amendment
      2. Payslips are not required as she has not been on H-1 status yet. So another employer can file cap-exempt petition along w/ COS, and she can start working for them from COS approval date. Also, if the employers are asking her to pay PP fees, then that’s legal
      3. I would suggest against it.

      You and her first need to decide whether you want to stay w/ current employer or not. Once you have done that, the new/same employer can file cap-exempt petition w/ COS for her.


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