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When can you Apply for H1B Visa Stamping after Petition Approval?

As soon as you get H1B petition approval, most of you are curious to know: “When can I  apply for H1B visa stamping ?  When Can I enter the US and start working ?  What do I need to be aware of for entering the US on H1B ?”.

I have seen many people ask this question and the reality is, people on the internet just give their own version of answers.  We have compiled the official answer from US Dept of State / USTravelDocs website for your reference.

How early can you apply for H1B visa stamping after petition approval?

As per the official USTravelDocs Agency Working Visa FAQs, which provides online visa appointment bookings in India for US visa stampings, the H1B visa applicants can only apply 90 days before the start date of the H1B employment, which is on the approved H1B petition.

Below is the official Question and Answer from their website, including a screenshot.

Q.8 My H1B Employment Petition (USCIS Form I-797) shows an employment start date. How early can I apply for an H1B visa at the Consulate?

Answer: You can apply for an H1B visa up to 90 days in advance beginning of employment status as noted on the form I-797, Notice of Action, however your entry to the US is restricted to 10 days prior to the start date as noted in the Form I-797 unless you are already working on an H1B visa for the same employer. 

– USTravelDocs.com FAQs
When can I apply for H1B Visa Stamping after Petition Approval
When can I apply for H1B Visa Stamping after Petition Approval

When to apply for H1B visa stamping after USCIS approval?

USTravelDocs website is the official and primary source for any information on booking appointments, and one should follow their recommendation. Per their recommendation, you can apply for an H1B visa stamping only 90 days before your H1B employment start date.  So, if your start date is October 1st for H1B visa status, you can apply for visa stamping anytime after July 1st. To avoid last-minute delays, start your visa stamping process in early July.

It is recommended that you always check the official website for correct and current information. You may call up or write to US Consulate or visa service provider customer service and ask them for clarification and confirmation… because rules keep changing and it may vary slightly depending on state and country.

When can you enter the US on an H1B visa after Visa stamping?

You can enter the US only ten days before the start date on your I-797 petition. i.e., say if your start date is October 1st, you can only enter the US on or after September 20th on an H1B visa. Below is USTravelDocs guidance on the same

“You may not enter the United States more than ten days prior to the petition validity date.”

 See the below screenshot and you can read the Visa FAQs on USTravelDocs.com Website

When can I enter US on H1B Visa after Stamping
When can I enter the US on H1B Visa after Stamping

Hopefully, you are clear now as the answers are from US Govt websites.

How did you handle your Visa Stamping after H1B Approval?  Any tips to share with readers?


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  1. Hi Kumar,

    I am currently on F1-OPT and my h1b petition is approved. I booked the visa slot for september 5. My h1b is effective from october 1. Can you please tell me if I can return back on September 24 and resume work. Or is it that I cannot continue to work on F1-OPT?

  2. Hi Kumar,

    I am a full time permanent virtual employee. My LCA and i-129 petition both has my primary office site address (Dallas) and work from home location (Virginia)

    In DS160 :
    1. What address should I put down for Present employer address?

    Primary office site address (Dallas) – (or) – Work from home address (Virginia)

    2. Same question for the temporary work visa information section.

    Where do you intend to work?

    Primary office site address (Dallas) – (or) – Work from home address (Virginia)

    Appreciate your response. Thank you !

  3. Hi Team,
    My current stamping is expired in Aug 2021 and my next renewal start date in from Starting Validity Date: 04/01/2022
    Ending Validity Date: 03/27/2025

    Currently i am in US, if i go for stamping in December can i re-enter in Jan 2022,
    i got two i-797 one validity is from 04/01/2019 to 04/01/2022
    other one is from 04/01/2022 to 04/02/2025


    • Hi Bharat I am in similar scenario. My stamp is expired and I have two I797. First one is valid till June 2022 and the second one is from June 2022 to June 2025. I want to travel before June and come back before June. Can visa stamping happens such that I use both I797 and get visa stamp till 2025 ? What did you do?

      • Did anyone in this chain go thru visa stamping and re-entry successfully before expiry of current I797? I am in the same boat. Currently in US, travelling to India in March. Current I797 is valid till Apr 14th, new petition start date is Apr 15th 2023. I have visa stamping in March using new petition #, planning to re-enter on Apr 1st 2023.

        • Hello Everyone,
          I am in the same, my current H1B visa stamping is expiring in sep’2023.
          The current Visa stamp which is in my passport for the previous employer that I worked, later I moved to a different organization and changed two locations so I have two new I-797 notices with me. I would like to go for a stamping by end of this year, but by that time my current visa will be expired. So, In order to get the stamping , do I need to fill the new Ds-160 form and then attend the visa interview to get stamped, and the new stamping dates will be based on the new I-797 notice ? appreciate your response. Thank you !

  4. Hi Team,

    My current stamping is expired in Aug 2021 and my next renewal start date in from Starting Validity Date: 04/01/2022
    Ending Validity Date: 03/27/2025

    Currently i am in US, if i go for stamping in December can i re-enter in Jan 2020, i got two i-797 one validity is from 04/01/2019 to 04/01/2022

    other one is from 04/01/2022 to 04/02/2025


  5. Hello sir,

    I have question on H1B Visa Stamping, I was in UAS for 2 years with company A till 2017 after that I came back to my home country, now again B company filed my petition and its approved, but now I am not in my home country and I am in Germany and working for company C, can I go for visa stamping to Germany US Embassy and fly it from here it self.

    I will highly value any suggestion/ guidance which you will provide
    Thanks a lot.

  6. hi Kumar ,

    Based on the above info, how soon can i apply for h4 stamping in India ? Will it be less than 90 days for me as well before start date? My spouse completed studies. Recently her h1B got picked in lottery and is currently in USA on CAP GAP with approved h1B COS starting Oct 1st 2021.


  7. Hi,

    My case is I am applying my H1B from oversea, currently not living in the State. USCIS now sent me RFE before making decision. So if I get approved what is the next step? When should I get my visa stamp? Does USCIS have time period I must start my first day of work?

    Thanks for answering!

  8. Hi Kumar,

    I have one doubt on Visa stamping questions:
    My employer MNC company filed h1b petition for me to work for client in US.
    What should be reply if VO asked below questions in interview?

    1. Who is your employer?
    I assume that it would be my MNC company

    2. Who is your petitioner or Sponsor?
    Is this same my employer – MNC

    Kindly help me on this.

  9. hello,

    My current 797 petition is ending on 30 Aug 2019 (no stamping done), a H1 extension application has been filed by the same employer under premium processing.

    Assuming I get a new approval notice which has a start date from 31 Aug 2019, can I visit India for visa stamping early in June (within 90 days of new petition start date) ? which approval notice should be used for this Visa Stamping Interview (ongoing or new)? Can I enter back in US in July as it is the same employer (well before the start of the new petition dates), or there will be problems at POE?
    ~worried about entry being allowed only 10 days prior to petition start date rule~

    Thank You,

    • Ahmed,
      Technically, you should use your current H1B that is valid for the stamping, because that is what you will use to re-enter US on H1B. If you plan to enter after 31st August or 10 days before 31 aug, then you would use your new approval. You should also indicate that you have h1b extension approved as well to the visa officer, if asked.
      Check with your attorney to make sure it is correct as well.

  10. Hi All,

    On behalf of me our company applied H1B petition in 2018. My profile picked in Lottery and I received I-797 Approval Notice in Oct-2018.
    Problem is My I-797 is approved only for 2 months i.e Oct 1, 2018 to Dec 31 2018. Our company denied send for stamping as its only 2 months. Now my i-797 expired without stamping, If we want re-initiate my H1B application what are the option I have.
    Should I go for extension/ renewal?
    As my old project SOW is expired, can i apply with new project roles?

    Thanks in Advance

    • You can go for new H1B transfer or extension. If your company has a new role or same role with more duration, you can use that for extension. If you have new company willing to sponsor, you can apply for cap exempt H1B petition. Check H1B transfer Info

    • Hi Ranjit,

      What is your current status..? What you have done for your case?
      Please share in details.I have similar issue like you

  11. Hi, I was on an F1 visa and my H1B got approved 2months back. I would like to know:
    1. If there is a mandatory timeline within which I need to go get my visa stamped in my home country? Or can I just do it when ever I plan to travel next.
    2. Does waiting to get the visa stamped – cause problems while attending the stamping interview?


  12. Hi All,

    I was on H1b with company x and i travelled US while my Transfer petition was in process to Company Y. While i was in India, my COE with Company Y got approved . Now i need to go for Visa Stamping with my new I-797 petition of company Y .

    In DS160 ,

    1. what should i write for present employer – Is it company X or Company Y.

    2. If i give Company Y as present employer, what should i give the Start date ( as it wont take future dates as start date of the employment. )

    Note: I got approval with Company Y on March 26th

    I have paychecks with Company X till April 2nd

    Based on this, what would be the preferable start date of present employer Company Y ? Can i write April 3rd in DS 160 ?

    3. If i write April 3rd as start date, do i need to get the offer letter of Company Y with intended start date as ” April 3rd” or can i have it sometime in future too as i need to travel US to join the company Y officially .

    4. Also do i need to resign Company X to get my stamping done with Company Y. ?

    Really appreciate your valuable thoughts on the above queries.


  13. F1 OPT -> H1b

    I’m applying for H1b. I’ve already been working for the company that will be sponsoring my H1b for past year on my F1 OPT.

    My F1 OPT ends Feb. 22 2019
    What should I enter as my start date on my H1b application?
    – Feb. 23, 2019 ?
    – October 1, 2018?
    – Somewhere in between?
    What are the pros and cons of doing one vs. another?

  14. I am currently working as a postdoctoral fellow in USA and got my H1B visa few days ago. Previously I was in my OPT. While I was on my OPT, my husband’s F2 visa was rejected since I had only 5 months remaining OPT period.
    1. If I apply for H4 for my husband now, what are the chances of getting rejected his H4 visa?
    2. Do we have to show ties to our home country to apply H4? (job, properties etc)
    3. Will that be ideal to go back to my home country and stamp my H1B visa and my husband’s H4 visa together? (My husband currently lives in our home country)

    • Mal,
      1.H4 visa is different and getting it should be fine as you are working now on H1B.
      2. Not really…You are joining your spouse and it is not visitor or F1 visa to show such ties.
      3. It is up to you, you do not have to go and get the H1B stamping done. You can just send your papers and your spouse can get stamping done at home country.

  15. Hi,

    I got an email stating that i was picked up on the lottery since May and also received a receipt of it starting with EAC17XXX . But they also said that they transferred my case to another USCIS. That office now has jurisdiction over your case…

    Its now October and I have still haven’t heard if i got the visa or not.. I am currently on my OPT which expires next year on May. HR also doesn’t know whats going on..Can you please help me and elaborate what do you think is happening?? Do you think i got the visa?

  16. Hi Sir,
    I applied for visa on march at chennai and first it went into additional documets and I got the approved mail on april to submit the passport.By that time i am in dubai for office work.Till now i did not submit .I i submit the passport in dubai .Do i need to go through the documents verification once again .
    Any idea how many days will it take transfer the application .
    please advise .

  17. Hi,

    I have my H1B Visa approved in May 2017 for OCT 2017 – AUG 2020, have received my official approval notice too. I am currently on my OPT can i go to india and get my VISA stamped and come back while i am on OPT itself ?

  18. Hi,

    In I-797B- Action of Notice mentions about H1B petition Approved
    Valid from :16-Dec-2015 to 9-April-2018

    I have questions is

    1. After the validity date , is My H1B petition will it be useful ?
    2. After the validity date i can apply look for Transfer of H1B ?
    3. Current petition will be be considered for next CAP’s for next 6 years from 2015 to 2021 ?
    4. Do i need to again file for H1B for new CAP

  19. Thanks a lot for sharing these vital points! Especially, avoiding a last-minute delay by applying for H1B visa stamping 90 days before your H1B employment start date.

  20. Hi Everyone,

    Currently, I am on H4-EAD which is valid from 09/2016 till 05/2018 and same time my H1 also got approved in 11/2016.
    I am interested to be on H4-EAD. My question is If I don’t move on H1, my H1 visa will get cancelled? If so, it is valid till how much time?

  21. Hi,
    My H1B got approved from employer A, and i have got the I797 approved copy but left the employer A and joined employer B.

    Can i still fill DS160 online and go for stamping?

  22. Is there any formalized process of activating H1B visa? (ex. Get the first paycheck from employer, get SSN, stamp on the visa when crossing the border)
    What if the employer company got bankrupt and the company doesn’t exist anymore? Should visa be necessarily activated by that moment (in case I don’t want to have problems with changing the employer)?

  23. Hi
    My son is on L1 visa and the same employer applied for H1B and got it approved.
    Pl clarify the following:
    1. Is it necessary for him to leave the country to get H1B stamped? Since the employer is same can it be done in USA.
    2. If not then for getting it done should he go back to home country or to Canada ?
    3. Is there any time limit within which he needs to get it stamped? If so how many months he has ?
    4. Since H1B has been approved what happens to L1 till he gets H1B stamped
    Pl advise

    • Hi,

      I your case, COS (Change of Status) will be done by the employer. L1 will be transferred to H1. This can be done from US itself if the petition of H1 has filed in USA by his employer but if the petition is filled in India then he may need to come to India for COS and Stamping. You can read more here http://www.immi-usa.com/l1-to-h1b-change-of-status-sgm-law-group/

  24. Hi

    My H1B petition got cleared in 2014 but my employer applied for the stamping only recently. I’ve not changed the employer since then. As per the stamping my Visa validity ends in May 2017. I need to know what will be the actual validity of my Visa as per I-94 in ideal conditions at the time of PoE. I understand it will depend on the immigration officer but what will the best and worst case scenario. What should be the latest date before which I should travel.

    Thanks for your help.


    • Rishoo Singh,

      Visa stamp and I-94 would be issued until petition expiration date. I would suggest traveling at least 1 month prior to petition expiration date so that employer has enough time to apply for extension.

  25. Hi,

    Can I book an appointment for H-1B VISA in any USA embassy in India? Because there are no open slots in my home city in December and I desperately have to get visa stamp and return to the US soon?



    • Samarth Hegde,

      Yes, you can go to any consulate in India. BTW, there is only 1 US embassy in India (New Delhi); all others are consulates.

      • Hi Saurabh. Thanks a lot! Haha I meant to say consulates, my bad!
        I had one more query, probably this is first time ever in history to happen I guess. I was really stressed out to get an interview slot in November end-December, so I totally forgot that DS-160 is the first step before scheduling interview and I went on to book one without filling a DS-160 at all. And when I was scheduling the appointment, there was a default DS-160 confirmation number in the form, and I thought may be I’ll be guided to a DS-160 form with that same number once I finish scheduling interview. But I was totally wrong.

        So essentially I have filled my DS-160 form AFTER I booked the interview.

        Am I still good?

        Thanks in advance.

        • Samarth,

          It doesn’t matter if DS form was completed and submitted after scheduling the appointment or prior to that.

          Just make sure that the DS# in your appointment is the same one that you have submitted.

  26. Hi my H1b petition end date is sep30th, and I am planning to go for visa interview on sep22nd. Note I never traveled to US, Will I face any issues in the interview.

    Please suggest.

  27. Hi,

    I got my H1B visa stamped but one of my friends say that I have to travel and join by the date mentioned in the Petition and Offer letter which is 1st of October. But, I have lot of things to wind up here and also spend some time with family. Can anyone suggest me if I will have any problem at PoE if I travel after 15th October? I can get the date updated on offer letter though.

    Thanks in Advance. Quick suggestions please.

    • Sandeep,

      That is not true. You can travel anytime to US during the petition and visa stamp validity period. Whenever you enter US, make sure you have recently dated documents like offer letter, project/client letter etc.

  28. Hello Friends,
    My H1B petition was approved in 2015 and its validity is till Dec 31 2016 , till now I haven’t received any Projects from my employer yet, what will happen to my Petition , will it be expired by this year Ending, Do I need to apply for new H1B next year or what ? Is there any way to extend my petition validity by paying fine or following some extension process?
    Please clarify my doubts.
    Thanks to one and all

    T& R

    • Suresh Kumar,

      As you have already been counted in the cap, same/different employer can file a cap-exempt petition for you. No need to go through the cap again. The employer will have to pay the fees for this cap-exempt petition.

  29. I would like to know if there is a time limit to enter the US once my H1b is approved? How much time do I have to get the visa stamping? Is there a time limit? I will not be able to leave my home country before several months, but I want to make sure this will not affect my h1B visa. Thank you!

    • H1b Question,

      You can appear for stamping anytime within the petition validity period. Same holds true for the entry to US.

      Whenever you go for stamping or enter US, make sure you have recently dated supporting documents like employment letter, project documents etc.

  30. Help!!!n

    My job starting date is October 26th. My law firm informed me that in order for me to remain in compliance and not accrue unlawful status, I must depart the US before October 1, and can only return up to 10 days prior to my actual start date with PwC US – with my approval notice and H-1B visa stamp in my passport. (For anyone with a start date after October 10, whose H-1B petition was approved as change of status must depart the US before October 1 and can only return within 10 days prior to their official start date).

    I never heard this H1B rule from other people before. Therefore, I want to confirm with you that what my law firm said is correct. Thank you and I look forward to hearing back from you.

  31. Hi all,

    It is mentioned up that I can enter the US up to 10 days before the start day of my visa (Oct 1st), so I can basically enter the country after Sept 20th.

    I just couldn’t find this information on the USCIS website, how can I make sure of it so the airport back home let me leave to the US with a Visa that isn’t theoretically valid?

  32. Hello,
    I just received my passport with the H1B Visa stamp. The Visa Stamp indicates Issue Date – July 28th 2016. My I-797 Approval Notice indicates that I am valid to work after October 1st, 2016. I see statements that I can enter 10 days before October 1st, but if my Visa Stamp indicates Issue Date July 28th, can I arrive earlier than September 20th? I hope this question makes sense.

    Thank you for answering in advance. Your website is AMAZING!


      • Ok. But my lawyer says that I could enter the US with the Visa, but I would not be able to work till Oct 1st since it will not be compliant. So, right now your answer might not be correct? I mean, if the Visa is ISSUED and valid from July 28th, I don’t understand why I would not be able to enter the US?

        • Ivan Pandulev,

          Your lawyer is wrong. If you want, go ahead and try to enter US. You will be returned from PoE.

          Notice it is called Issue Date and not Effective Date. It is the date on which it was issued/approved and may or may not be the date when it becomes effective.

          If you look at your 797 approval document, you would notice there is a notice date (like issue date) and valid from dates. The 797 doesn’t go into effect until it is within valid dates.

          Ask the lawyer where it says that you can enter on such a visa when the petition hasn’t become effective and that too more than 10 days in advance.

  33. JULY 20, 2016 03:48:31 CDTREPLY

    1. You can appear for stamping anytime during petition validity period.
    2. Yes, you can apply for Australian PR while still having H-1 in hand.

    Thanks for your reply but please clarify:
    1) what is the validity period for H-1? where it will be mentioned? or is there any general validity period?
    2) After applying and getting PR in Australia, can I move out of country having the validity of PR of Australia to join job in US with H-1?

    • sarveswarudu,

      1. H-1 approval document (797) will have the petition validity period. Visa stamp will also be issued for the same period.
      2. I don’t know about Australian rules, but usually you can enter US on H-1 even if you have PR of any other country. They are not related to each other.

  34. dear sir,
    I got H1b and received the receipt copy from my employer. But, Presently I am in Australia on my present employer’s work. It may take about 9 to 12 months stay in Australia.
    My question is,
    1) howmany days I can prolong my visa application?
    2) Can I apply for PR at Aurstralia keeping the H1b in my hand?
    Please clarify.

    • sarveswarudu,

      1. You can appear for stamping anytime during petition validity period.
      2. Yes, you can apply for Australian PR while still having H-1 in hand.

      • Hi Saurabh,

        My current employer asked me to travel to Singapore. But my US H1B petition got picked in the lottery recently and I am waiting for the approval.
        My questions are:-
        1. Can I travel to Singapore and work there?
        2. Once I receive the H1B approval, am I eligible to go for stamping in Singapore or do I need to come back to India for stamping?
        3. Once stamping is done, how soon I need to travel US post Oct 1st?

        Since I am new to this, could you please advise.


        • Yash,

          1. Yes
          2. You will have to check w/ US embassy in Singapore about this. Each embassy has different rules on TCNs (Third Country Nationals). Usually it would be ok if you have been working in Singapore for a while and are there on a long term visa.
          3. You can travel anytime during your petition/visa validity period. Whenever you travel, make sure you have recently dated documents like offer letter, client/project letter etc.

  35. Hi,

    I got I797 receipt notice, but when i check USCIS online, it shows up a validation error saying case is not found. What could be the reason, can we rely on Uscis online? or should we followup with attorney? what is the next step?

  36. My petition got approved on December 13, 2013, Form I-129. Due to personal reason i did not go for stamping. now i am interested. Please let me know can i eligible for applying stamping.

  37. My H1B petition is currently ongoing. My starting date in US is August 18. I have a flight to return to the US on July 8. Can I return in the US as visa waiver (ESTA), wait the H1B completion and then start to work in US?

  38. Got selected in lottery this Time ,but the sow ends in DEC 2015.what if I go for stamping in Oct or Nov 2015.req anyone’s help

  39. Hi Kumar – I got my H1b 2016 (Cap-NonAD) petition approved earlier this year. I am transferring to my employer’s US office in October but need to travel on a short (3 weeks) business trip in August on B1 that I currently hold. If I get my H1b stamped in July, can I still travel on B1 before my H1b effective date? Or, is it advised that I get my H1 stamped upon returning from my trip in August.

  40. Thanks for your information!
    I am on F1-OPT now and My H1B was approved and will be effective on Jan 1 2015 and I am going to travel back to my home country during Dec. 2014 and planning to return U.S. on Dec 28 2014 (namely 3 days before H1B starting date). It seems OK based on your information. My question is whether It’s OK for my wife and kids to remain in U.S. during my traveling (They are F2 dependents until Jan 1 2015 H4 started). I ask this question because I doubt whether they will lost there F2 dependents when I travel outside of U.S..

  41. I have H1B visa approved in 2013 Jan and now I have to join in Oct 2014…will there be any issue as already 2 years past?

  42. My wife’s got her H1b approved and soon she will go for Visa interview in Consulate. She was in US (on H4) and now in India.
    After visa stamping does she need to wait till 1-Oct to travel or she can travel anytime after H1b stamping (considering she had a valid H4 as well) ?

    • Hi,
      Can you please let me know, how did your wife’s interview go – the H1B Visa stamping? What all questions did the VO ask? I am in the same state. I have an approved visa and I came to India recently in September. As I am on a dependent visa, I cannot show the paystubs, so wanted to know the details about the interview.

  43. The above statement is true. I attended my fresh h1b visa interview last friday(ie June 20th – Hyderabad) the lady who interviewed me said that “ur visa is approved and wll get my passport with in 2 days” kept my passport with her. But yesterday I received my passport(with out stamping) with a white 221g slip mentioned in handwriting as “Re-submit your passport on/or after July 1,2014 as an H1b visa may not be issued 90 days prior to petition start date” . My employer didn’t tell me about this change. So guys please attend for fresh H1b visa interview after July 1st. Not sure what will happen to my case. Planing to resubmit my passport on july1st. Please provide your comments on this. Thanks

    • Hey raj,
      Congrats .
      Dnt wrry evrythng wil b fine
      Can u pls tell us ur receipt no . Bcoz lot us are still in initial review.

    • Great..Raj..congrats…they said approved that’s it you can drop this into VFS they can stamp and give with 2 days…all the best

  44. Hey Saurab
    I was previously on H4 on Nov 7 my H1b got approved and I have applied for ssn but till today I didn’t get one. When I asked the lady in ssn office she says to get a EAD, which I don’t have. when I asked the same to my consultant he says to show the I 797 receipt . But the ssn people say they need the card without that we can’t issue your ssn. What should I do? Urgent help need. I appreciate it

    • Hi Shruti,

      My wife is in the same situation now. Can you please advise if and how your matter got resolved ? The SSA officials say that they won’t even file for her SSN unless she presents her EAD. I don’t even know if one gets an EAD on H1b change of status from H4.

      Kindly help.



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