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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. Dear Saurabh,
    My employer now says that they might lose money if cap get filled.
    Do they take(325+500+1500(in my case)) . if quota get filled after i sent USCIS my documents.


    • Ram,
      No, they will not lose money. Only money they can lose is the attorney fees (which is something b/w employer and attorney and USCIS is not part of). USCIS will return the entire package in case quota has reached.

  2. Hi, Saurabh…
    I have read your all comments and I just wanted to say You are doing great job Saurabh. You are making so clear to understand and thank you so much for your all help.
    I have a question and just was concern about my travel while H1b approved.
    I am in US on OPT F1, which is valid till Dec 2012. My company applied H1b in Premium process and got approved on May 29. So my H1 start date is Starting Validity Date: 10/01/12 . But I have to go for my Company trip to Mexico on June 11th.

    My Question is:
    (1) Can I have any problem while coming back in US?
    (2) I don’t have any hard copy documents of approval to show immigration officer when i come back in US. because, it just got approved before 3 days, and I am leaving US after 1 week. I just have a scan copy of I797(my attorney has original).
    Can you please answer when you get chance? I appreciated all your help.
    Thank you so much,
    Hardik Vyas

    • Hardik Vyas,
      1. It should be ok as you are working on OPT which is valid till Dec 2012. Make sure you carry necessary documents to return to US – I-20 stamped for travel, employment verification letter, OPT payslips etc
      2. You need documents related to F-1 and not necessarily H-1. This is b/c you will be using F-1 visa to return to US

  3. Hi Saurabh,

    My employer has filed my H1 in April 2012. for stamping is it compulsory to go back to INDIA or I can still go to CANADA and get stamped. Which one is safer for stamping?
    Also my wife is in INDIA and want to file H4 for her. Please help me with procedure of filing H4 from USA. How much fees will be for filing H4? and is it compulsory for me to go back to India to file for her H4?
    Thanks for all you r help Saurabh.

    • Brij,
      For the first time stamping one is recommended to go to home country especially when the person didn’t do Masters in US. Even if you go to CA, make sure you have contingency plans in case things don’t turn out the way you planned.

      Your wife will have to complete DS-160 form, then pay HDFC fees and appear for H-4 visa interview. Once approved, she can travel to US and be w/ you on H-4. She can go for stamping once your petition has been approved, and can enter US on H-4 after Sep 20th.

      What is your current visa status? Was H-1 filed w/ COS?

      • Hi Saurabh,

        Thanks for your reply.
        I did Master’s in USA and right now I am working on OPT extension. I still didnt got approval of my H1.
        So you mean to say once my petition will approved my wife need to complete DS-160 from India and if approved she can come USA. It means I don’t need to go back to India for stamping. She can file there and come to India right.
        Thanks Saurabh

        • Brij,
          If your H-1 gets approved w/ COS, then it will become effective from Oct 1 (assuming it gets approved by that date). You will have to start working on H-1 from that date and there is no need to go for stamping. Next time you travel outside of US, you will have to get H-1 visa stamped in order to return to US on H-1.

          As for your wife, she can complete the DS form and then travel to US on H-4 visa around Oct 1 (earliest date of Sep 20).

  4. Hi Saurabh,
    My L1B extension was filed exactly on April 20 and April 25 was the day on which my Visa and I94 expired. I have a DHL tracking number where it shows USCIS got the documents exactly on April 25.
    Question –
    1. What are the chances of approval / denial, since the extension documents were received exactly on April 25th.
    2. It’s a month now and I didn’t get the receipt number yet, is that possible for me to go back to India without any document proof?
    3. What would be the scenario if I return back to India without knowing my approval / denial? Would there be any issue with my future visit to US?

    Thanks in advance,

    • SKR,
      1. I don’t think it should be impacted by the dates on which it was filed and received. Keep the DHL receipt and screenshot of online tracking to show when it was sent and when it was received by USCIS.
      2. Your employer/attorney should contact USCIS and follow-up. It is possible that it has been queued up due to heaving H-1 filings
      3. There shouldn’t be any impact. Keep all the documents for future reference and use.

  5. Hi,

    I already have a fresh H1 B stamped from my current employer but I have not flied yet.
    Can I switch to some other company and transfer my visa so that I can fly from there?

    • Dev,
      Yes, another employer can file cap-exempt petition for you (aka H-1 transfer). Once approved, you can travel to US using old employer’s visa stamp and new employer’s petition.

  6. My H1 petition got approved on March 2012, Valid till oct 2014. But my employer is not asking me to go for stamping. As LCA which they filed, already somebody is taking that role..They told they are looking for some other opportunity for me…In that case will employer will utilize my visa or not…I am working for big Indian MNC…. But my employer is not telling me the actual plan.

    • Arun,
      It is up to the employer whether to call you to US for an opportunity or not. Another employer can file cap-exempt petition for you (aka H-1 transfer), and you can go for stamping through that employer and travel to US.

  7. Hi Saurabh,

    My I129 petition was filed on 10th April 2012. As per the older responses on this site it appears that the time it will take for H1 approval is between 2-4 months(on avge).

    Q1)For example, If my H1 gets approved on 30th July, when can I apply for visa stamping? Please note that I am currently in India and this will be the first time I will be going to US.

    Q2)Is it safe to resign from the current employment when the H1B process is underway? Can it effect the outcome?

    Q3) Are employment contracts valid in US? Can an employer ask the employee to sign a contract to be in the employment for a period of (say) 2 years?

    Thanks for your time.


    • Nadia,
      1. You can go for H-1 visa stamping at most 90 days prior to H-1 start date. So if H-1 start date is Oct 1, you can go for stamping after July 1 (once the petition gets approved)
      2. It will not impact the outcome, but why do you want to resign while it is in process? It is possible that petition gets denied or stamping runs into 221g. So do not consider H-1 as an option until you get your visa stamped.
      3. Such bonded labor contracts are not valid in US. However, you should get any contract reviewed by a labor attorney just to be sure

  8. My I 797 petition for H1B was approved for 3 years, so it will expire on 2014, but now in the US consulates in Mexico they are just stamping the H1b visa for 1 year, so my visa stamp will expire on october 2012, what should I do? can I stay in the US since my petition is still valid? or do I need to get re stamp before october?

    • Luis,
      If you are inside US, then you can continue to stay as long as your petition and I-94 (which will be issued at PoE) are valid. You need to worry about visa stamp only when you travel outside of US, and need it to return to US.

  9. Hi Saurabh-
    I am in India and I have valid petition upto Aug 31 2012 ,i havn’t go for stamping till now . i am planing to travel June from my current employer and they are ready to extend my petition. my question is
    if i go for stamping are they allow me for stamping and what will be the stamping exp date
    if my extension petition getting delay after Aug 31 if i apply premimum processing also. will they allow me in stay US till getting new petition
    Please help me

    Kamal G

    • Kamal G,
      If approved, they will issue visa stamp valid until petition expiration date i.e. Aug 31, 2012. Once you land in US and file for extension, you can stay up to 240 days beyond petition expiration date waiting for an outcome to your petition. If the H-1 extension gets denied in b/w, then you need to leave US ASAP.

      • ok , So Stamp valid till Aug 31 2012 is not an issue ,if i reach before 31 Aug 2012 in US. Can i stay in US after 31 Aug to till my new petition outcome period if yes,
        What about the Stamp validity again ,will i go for stamping
        Please clarify .Thanks for your previous reply

        Kamal G

        • Kamal G,
          You can stay beyond Aug 31 as long as extension petition if filed (read my previous note about 240 days). You don’t need to worry about visa stamp as long as you are within US. Next time you travel outside of US, you will have to go for visa stamping in order to return to US.

          • Thank you so much ..i got all nessaray information ..you are doing excellent job.
            keep it up..since you are helping to so many new comer ..God bless you 🙂
            Kamal G

  10. Hi,

    I’m on OPT now and it expires in Feb 2013.
    I have my H1B approved. Can I go to Canada and get my H1B visa stamped in July 1st week and comeback to US on my OPT and work till Oct and then on H1B from October?

    • Bhaskar,
      Why do you want to get H-1 visa stamped? You can travel to CA, return on OPT and still be on H-1 from Oct 1 (assuming H-1 was approved w/ COS). There is no H-1 stamping required in order to start working on H-1, unless you have a different reason to get H-1 visa stamped.

      • There are very low chances of visa rejection with the client I’m working for now.
        I might not travel outside US in near future and I’m not sure if I would be with the same client then. So, I want to get my visa stamped when there are good chances.
        Please let me know, if I can come back on OPT with H1B stamped which starts from 1st October. Can I come back in July to US on OPT status with my H1B stamped in Canada?

        • Bhaskar,
          If you go for H-1 stamping and it is approved, you can still return on F-1/OPT, and still be on H-1 from Oct 1. You will have to show F-1 visa stamp at PoE and also need to carry other F-1/OPT related documents like I-20 stamped for travel, employment verification letter from OPT employer and payslips for your OPT employment.

  11. Hi all,
    I am in F1 VISA right now and it valid till May 2013 and i am in OPT right now.
    I am applying for H1 B VISA.
    I have few Questions.
    1. should the start date be Oct 1st whenever you apply ( if you apply in april, may, june or july …. ) ?? or it should be 6 months before the apply date ( If i apply on Jun 1st can i give the start date as Dec 1st ?? )
    2. Can i goto India from the day i got approval ( if approved on sep 15th )and come back before the start date ( If start date is Dec 1st ) of my H1??
    3. If i goto india after the approval date can i return from india on Nov 25th 2012 or is there any rule i should return 1 month or 15 days before the start date of my H1?
    4.IF i goto india in that period i no need to go for stamping right?

    Thank you so much,
    Raj K

    • Raj,
      1. Earliest start date is Oct 1. However, an employer has an option to request a start date 6 months in future
      2. There is a complication in this. If you return after Oct 1, then your status would remain F-1 and will not change to H-1 automatically. You will have to file COS to H-1 again or enter on stamped H-1 visa. If you return prior to Oct 1, then you can enter on F-1 and still be on H-1 from Oct 1 (this assumes your H-1 was approved w/ COS w/ start date of Oct 1)
      3. Refer (2)
      4. Refer (2)

      • Thanks Sourabh.
        So you are saying even though i got H1 Visa approved in September and my start date is in Dec 1st, If i travel to india on Oct 15th and return back on Nov 1st, Then i should file for COS to H1 again after coming back.

        What are the chances of approving the VISA if i apply after coming back? ( does it related to H1 Quota availablility ( 65000 and 20000 )?
        Can i just send my approved documents to USCIS after i come back and they will change my status from Dec 1st?
        What if H1 Quota is completed by that time then i need to apply for next year? ( i cant do this because my opt expires in Feb 2013 )

        Please suggest me as i need to goto India on Oct 15th and return on Nov 1st .

        Thank you all,
        Raj K

        • Raj K,
          Correction to my previous comment. If your petition gets approved w/ COS in Sep w/ start date of Dec 2012, then you can travel outside of US on F-1, return in Nov and still be on H-1 from Dec 1. This will happen automatically and no separate COS needs to be filed.

          If you file H-1 after returning back, then quota may not be available and then you will have to wait for next fiscal year.

          What you can do is have employer file H-1 w/ COS w/ start date of Nov 15 (it would be 6 months in advance from today’s date). The make sure it gets approved by Oct so that you do not have to leave US w/ COS pending. Later, return on F-1 in Nov and be on H-1 from Nov 15. If you want to give Dec 1 as start date, then H-1 needs to be applied on or after June 1. All this assumes that your H-1 gets approved w/ COS prior to you leaving US.

          Does that clarify?

          • Yes.

            Is there any rule that I should return to US 25 days before the start date of my H1visa ( dec 1st ) or I can return before the start date ( nov 20th or some date before Dec 1st )

            Thank you so much sourabh for helping me out.

            Raj K

          • Raj,
            You can return at most 10 days prior to start date of H-1 (in case you want to return on stamped H-1 visa). If you want to F-1/OPT, then you can return even few days prior to H-1 start date and still be on H-1 from Dec 1 (H-1 start date).

          • Thank you so much.

            So with out H1 stamping and want to return from India on F1 stamping and in Opt how many days before should i return to US from the start date of my H1.

            If my start date is on Dec 1st , how many prior days before i should return to USA so that i wont be in trouble. ( I heard its 25 days prior i.e., before Nov 5th. is that right? )

            Raj K

          • In addition to above one. i want to return with out H1 stamping ( on my F1 and opt ).

            Thank you so much sourabh for your valuable time.

            Raj K

          • My attorney told me about the 25 day prior return to US before the start day. its ok. i will find out. If you know about this then let me know.

            Thank you so much sourabh.
            Have a good weekend.

            Raj K

  12. Hi Kumar,

    Hope you are doing great.I am on F-1 Visa and my opt valid till December 2012. I applied for H1B Visa in premium and mostly i will get approval in may last week.I want to go to INDIA on july/August. Since my h1b starts from oct 1st ,Can i go and comeback on august with F1 VISA.Please let me know .Thanks in Advance.

    • kiran kumar,
      You can travel and return on F-1 visa. You will have to show OPT employment when returning to US. So get your OPT endorsed for travel, carry OPT payslips and employment verification letter from employer. If H-1 gets approved w/ COS, then you can return on F-1 and still be on H-1 from Oct 1.

  13. When i check my case status i have seen omb control number 1615-0080 and expiry date
    6-30-2012. I don’t know what does it mean.

  14. Hi Saurabh

    I am in Usa on l1b visa.my visa is valid till Oct 2013.

    However in usa I got a offer from a online ecommerce company
    Based in Seattle. They are willing to initi
    ate a ne w h1b for me this year. My questions are a follows
    1. If the company is willing to do a premium processing can I go to India before
    Oct 1 for my visa processing?

    2. if my visa gets stamped can I return usabefore October
    1 on my existing l1b visa and then quit and join
    The new company? If this is the case will there be issuess entering
    Back Usa? Because I Will have both l1b and h1b stamped
    But I will have i94 on l1b and a h1b which will get active
    On October 1.

    3. Since I will not have a salary slip from the New company will it cause any
    Issues in h1b stamping in India

    4. If my h1b gets rejected can I come back to its on l1b

    • SR,
      1. You can get visa processed in US itself. If you have no reasons to travel, then the employer can file H-1 w/ COS and you can start working on H-1 from COS approval date (usually Oct 1).
      2. If you do have to travel to home country, and get H-1 visa stamped then you can return on H-1 on or after Sep 20th and start working on H-1 from Oct 1. You cannot return on H-1 prior to that. There is a possibility that consulate would cancel your L-1 w/o prejudice when approving the H-1 visa
      3. Its ok as you are not required to have payslips from H-1 employer. Your H-1 is starting from Oct 1 and no payslips are required prior to that
      4. Yes, provided L-1 is still valid and L-1 employer still has the employment w/ you.

  15. Hi, Saurabh,
    I got my H1 approved April 27th, 2012 and still waiting for the approval notice they sent in mail. Since I’m planning to go back to my country and get it stamped, can you let me know how long does it take to get the notice? Thanks.

      • Hi Saurabh,

        I have a follow up question on above. Assuming the A.W.’s employment will start on 1st October based on its been approved on April 27th, 2012, can he get the visa stamped now? Or should he wait till closer to October 1st?

        My H1B is approved and I have received the approval notice as well. However I am not planning to get it stamped so soon. I have a valid F1 and OPT till December 2012. What is the right time to go for stamping?

        Thanks in advance for helping me and many like me.


        • Purnima,
          A person can go for H-1 visa stamping at most 90 days prior to H-1 start date. So in this case, one can go for stamping after July 1.

          In you case, if H-1 is approved w/ COS, then there is no need to go for stamping immediately. You will be on H-1 status from Oct 1 based on COS approval. You can go for H-1 stamping next time you have to travel outside of US.

          Does that answer your question?

  16. Hi Saurab,
    I have doubt.Hope you will clarify it,I have an offer from company B which i got recently.But Company A which i am working now is processing H1 B for me.But i am not sure whether my company A will send me to US after i get H1 B.I am in dilema whether to go and join Company B or stay with Company A.Please suggest me which one to opt.Waiting for your reply at the earliest.

    • Yashwanth,
      You can have both of them process H-1 for you. Later you can decide the employer whose petition gets approved and has better prospects for you in US.

  17. Hi,

    My Visa is expiring on September 31, 2012, my company is initiating the extension process(Though not filed yet).
    Meanwhile my marriage is planned for August 20,2012 and i do plan to come back to US.

    My question is –
    1) Is it possible to come back to US around September 1st week before my Visa expires
    2) will the extension filed in US be valid as i have departed to India before i get an approval?
    3) When is the last date when i can enter US using my current H1B.

    Please help me to plan my important occasion in my life.

    • Siva,
      1. Yes
      2. Your extension would be processed but it will be approved w/o I-94 if you leave US while it is pending
      3. Before petition expiration and visa stamping date

      Will you wife go for H-4 visa stamping? If yes, then I suggest filing the extension w/ premium processing. This way your wife will get a visa stamp valid until new petition expiration date. When returning to US, you guys can show the new petition and get I-94 valid until that later date.

  18. Hi,
    I am in india right now.I was bachelor when for H1B petition and now when my petition has been approved, I am married.Is it fine if I get my visa stamping done first then go for my spouse visa stamping or should this be done together.Would be great if you can help me in this regard.

    Many thanks

    • Vishal,
      You can do either. Personally, I prefer if the husband-wife go together as everything gets done in one go and there is no need to carry same set of documents again (when applying separately).

  19. Hi Saurabh,
    I am planning to go to india for H1-B stamping in June 2012. My visa was approved last year and i am working on H1-B from jan 2012. Prior to that i was working on L1-B. It was L1b to H1B visa transfer case. I have few questions:
    1. Is June right time for H1-B visa stamping in india?
    2. I have I797 approved till December 2012. So if asked how long i will be in USA should i say 6 month?
    3. I have previous L1-B, I-29 petition, which will expire by july 2013. Do i have to carry that I-29 petition, i don’t know if my company has new I29 petition and i have to get from them?
    4.I have I1040 tax return but lost somewhere W2 form. Will that create any problem.
    5. My roles and responsibility should match to DS-160 form? I have not received client letter yet and that letter may state differently than my DS-160.
    6.I s there any DS-156 form i have to carry?

    • Vivek J,
      1. There is nothing like the right time
      2. Yes, you should mention until petition expiration date
      3. Not really required. I haven’t seen instances where they have asked for L-1 I-129 when going for H-1 stamping
      4. See if you can get the duplicate. It may be asked and I am not sure if the tax return can be used in lieu
      5. It is nice if they match word to word, but as long as the context remains the same, it should be fine. Have you already taken the interview date? If not, then fill a new DS form once you have the roles and responsibilities from client letter
      6. No

      • Thanks lot Saurabh…
        I have talked to my employer and they agreed to file for H1-B extension in July since my H1-B expires by Dec-2012. But my employer told that the new I797 will have validity from dec 2012 to new extension date. i.e just 1 day after the prev H1-B expiration date. In that case if i go to india in october for stamping, will i have to carry 2 I797 form so that i can get H-1 B stamped beyond Dec-2012 provided i get extended I797 by that time?

  20. Hello guys I need your help here,
    Right now I am on OPT extension. I am hired with company A and working as a consultant in company B from company A. Company A has filed my H1 on April 2nd, 2012 and I received I-797 receipt notice. (Its a just receipt notice not a Approval notice). now company B want to hire me directly and they are also ready to apply for my h1. I don’t want to loose this opportunity. I am confused now like should I wait till approval of my H1 from company A or I can apply from company B before approval???

    Guys I will be really appreciated for any suggestions.
    I am confused should I apply before approval???
    Thanks in advance for any suggestions..

    • Brij,
      B can also file H-1 petition for you w/o waiting for A’s approval. In case both get approved, you can decide to work for either employer from Oct 1.

  21. After I got my petition and visa stamped, there was a travel delay to US on this project and then an urgent need for traveling on another project (same employer & different client) came by. Amendment was submitted and has been approved for the same. The date on the visa issued earlier is still valid. Can we now travel to US immediately or should we go for stamping again before traveling.

  22. Hi

    I have got the petition approved. But there are no current project requirement. If i have to postpone the visa stamping, how long i can postpone?

    Please let me know how much time i can wait for apply for visa stamping

    • Raji,
      You can postpone it as long as you want, until petition expiration date. However, if you go later, then ensure you are carrying recent documents and not old dated documents.

  23. Hi,
    I came from Ind to US in last July with H1B , After I came here I changed my company and they transferred my H1 with extension until 2014 . In this situation I am pending with my stamping as I changed my employer. Can I go to Canada and get stamped there without any issues?

    Thanks in advance if any one can help / faced the same situation.

    • Venky,
      If you have a previously approved H-1 visa in the passport which has not expired, then you don’t need to go for H-1 visa stamping.

      • Thanks for your time Saurabh,
        I am having Approved H-1 visa in my passport till May only. Now its time for stamping I think. Can you suggest me , is the the right time to go to India. or Do I need stamping first in canada ? which one is best 🙂 .

        • Venky,
          As this is not your 1st stamping, you can go to CA as well. But you should have contingency plans when going there. Talk to your attorney on the risks, and if they are confident about the stamping then you can go to CA for stamping.

  24. Hi Saurabh,
    I have question regarding my OPT Status. Just to give you some background.
    I graduated in Aug 2011, wd MS in MIS degree when my major was not under the Stem extension list, hence we have OPT for 12 months unlike other Engineering students.
    But for my juniors after my batch ie. December 2011 graduates, this major MIS went under STEM (29 month OPT extension). Now I am in a dilemma whether I am OPT extension or not. Since university website shows MIS has 29 month OPT extension even though my I20 shows 12 month OPT period.
    Please share your thoughts.

  25. Hi,
    I attended my H1B interview in Chennai on feb 27th 2012, I got a 221(g) slip saying some documents to be submitted to USCIS from petitioner and myself. I submitted all the documents on April 12th 2012. Today i see my passport status as below..

    Your passport can be collected in person at US visa application centre in Chennai between 1600-1700 hours.
    Kindly produce your HDFC fee receipt and interview appointment letter at the time of collecting your passport.
    If your passport is not collected by 1700 hrs, it will be automatically dispatched to you by courier.

    Please let me know, whether it is approved or not…..I am tensed with the outcome…


    • Prashanth,
      The online status for passport doesn’t provide more clarity. However, in most of the cases such status means approval (but don’t count the chickens until they hatch).

  26. Hi Saurabh,

    I have a very convoluted situation, I hope you can help me out…

    1) I was in US on F2, did a COS (with I-94) to F1, then another COS to H1 (got approval without I-94). Till the H1 approval without I-94, did not travel to India with the F1 for stamping.
    2) As I got H1 approval without I-94, I came to India for stamping. I got a 221g, and my employer (company A) after waiting for 3 months, decided to cancel that H1 application. The previous H1 was based on the EVVC model, hence i think it was sent for 221g with recommendation to reject. Now I dont know whether that H1 is cancelled or not. USCIS is under no obligation to inform of that status apparently!
    3) Now the vendor (well known IT company B) in whose project I was has absorbed me as a full time, and will apply for H1 for me and I will continue on the same project (for another big client C project) I was before I came to india (E-C).

    My questions are:
    1) I have a prior H1 approval, but no visa. Will that make the new H1 filed by Company B as a H1 transfer? Or is transfer only applicable in case of having a visa?
    2) If company B puts my date of starting in June 1st, and I get approval and visa by that time, can I start work immediately? Or, because I did not have a H1 visa till now, I can only start from Oct 1st?
    3) is there any exception to the Oct 1st rule for starting? My company’s end client C is very keen to have me back in US soon. Can I leverage that and get back to US soon?

    Please let me know… I am awaiting your reply.


    • Haritha,
      1. If you have information (like approval copy of receipt number) about the previous petition, then the new employer can file cap-exempt petition for you (aka H-1 transfer). Else, go for a new petition.
      2. If it is cap-exempt then you can start working once the new petition gets approved w/ COS. Else wait until Oct 1 (again assuming it gets approved w/ COS).
      3. You can start early only if it is filed as cap-exempt and gets approved w/ COS.

      • Thanks for the valuable and speedy response, Saurabh!

        1) I have my approval copy of the receipt number (I-797B – stating COS F1 – H1 is not approved). But that H1 is presently under cancellation. Is it still possible to transfer a H1 which is in process of cancellation?
        2) How does a company apply as a cap exempt? does the fact I already have a H1 approval automatically make me cap exempt? If not , how does cap exempt work?
        3) Also, another question is will COS still have a role to play? Since I am in India right now, no longer on F1. I am assuming I have a valid H1 approval, can my new employer apply on transfer so I can work immediately rather than wait till oct 1st 2012?

        Waiting anxiously for your reply.. thanks

        • Haritha,
          1. Yes, you can still go ahead w/ cap-exempt petition
          2. It doesn’t happen automatically. The company will have to select that option in the I-129 form and submit relevant documents to prove the same
          3. Yes, once approved you can return to US and work for the employer. No need to wait until Oct 1. However, you may have to go for stamping if you don’t have any valid unexpired H-1 visa stamp in your passport

          • Hi Saurabh, Thanks for the response. It is very very helpful! Not clear what you meant by the 2. submit relevant documents for the CAP exemption. What are these documents?

          • Haritha,
            You will have to submit copy of approved 797 to show that you qualify for cap-exempt H-1.

          • Great, thanks a lot Saurabh. Your input is very valuable. really appreciate your timely responses.

  27. Hi Saurabh,
    You are doing a great job…!
    really excellent.
    I need your valuable inputs on following concern:
    I am from company A, in that company I am from project ‘A1’ which is working for US client –(lets say name is A1.US),
    My project manager filed myH1b visa for A1.US Client, last march/april.
    On USCIS site the petition is approved on 2nd March but, now I see that my manager is not interested to approve me for stamping.
    Also, now when I see in USCIS site, its says
    ” OMB control no. 1615-0080
    Expiration date 6-30-2012″
    I dont understand what is it?
    Is it the expiration date of my approved petition?
    My query is, What to do next?, I am in stress due to all this…
    How can I get my visa stamped…I dont understand.
    Is it possible that I shift to other project in the same company who has US client z1
    Please help me soon….
    Thanks a Lot…!

    • Khushi,
      I don’t know what it is. Do you have a copy of approved 797. If yes, then it will have the petition expiration date. You cannot get the visa stamped unless your employer agrees to it. You can either change project within the same employer (new LCA + H-1 amendment + stamping) or change employer (LCA + cap-exempt petition + stamping).

  28. Hi Saurabh,

    I have come to US couple of weeks to take care of my sister during her medical treatment for breast cancer and the treatment seem to take atleast 6 months time and i have taken leave only for 2 months from india. Now, can I go ahead and apply for any company in USA so that I can extend my stay and also support the medical expenditure ?



    • Venkat Kishore Damodar,
      Do you want to a work visa like H-1? That is doable, but you will have to find an employer willing to file H-1 petition for a specialized job. You need to qualify for H-1. They also need to file COS from B-1/2 to H-1. You entered on B-1/2, right?

      • Yes, I entered as b1/b2 on 17 the of April. For finding the employer, should I be finding a consultant to help?

        • Venkat Kishore damodar,
          What you are referring to as a consultant is basically the employer. These are consulting companies that file H-1, and you need to find an employer (consulting or non) to file the H-1.

          • While I am on B1/2 visa, I-94 is valid till 16 Oct, if I get an employer who is ready file my h1 and cos, do I need to go to India for h1 stamping?

          • Kishore,
            If H-1 gets approved w/ COS w/ start date prior to Oct 16, then you don’t need to go for stamping immediately. You can start working on H-1 based on COS approval.

  29. Hi Saurabh,

    I have read your forum and thought i would get my answers here.I have worked in Us on my H1 and since its getting expired applied for extension and meanwhile came back to India due to personal visit..Now i have got my H1 approved and need to go for stamping..can i join other company in india and get my H1 transferred and go for stamping from there itself or shut i go for stamping from my previous company.Please suggest.


    • Anamika,
      Another employer can file cap-exempt H-1 petition for you (aka H-1 transfer) and once approved go for H-1 stamping through that employer. The other option is to go through the previous employer. It depends on which employer has better chance of approval, will you be able to find the 2nd employer and which employer you want to work for after returning to US.

  30. Hi Saurabh,

    My company filed for my H1 visa and it got approved on 30-Jan-2012. My company is not sending me for stamping because currently there is no job for my profile with them.

    I want to know till which date my petition is valid i.e. till which date I can go for stamping? Is it within 6 months of my petition approval.


    • Vicky,
      You can go anytime during the petition validity. However, whenever you go for stamping, you need to carry recent documents for that time and a reasonable answer about the delay (like no project or market conditions etc).

      • Thanks Saurabh. You are of great help for people like me.

        One more question. Is it possible for me to join another company on my H1 without getting it stamped on my passport? If it is possible then please tell me about the documents I would require to do this.

        • Vicky,
          The new employer can file for H-1 transfer w/o getting the passport stamped. However, later you will have to go for stamping in order to enter US on H-1 visa. For H-1 transfer you will need same set of documents as original H-1 application. The only addition would be copy of previously approved H-1 petition.

  31. Hi,

    I am currently working on H1B with an employer to whom i moved in Nov 2011 – before that I entered US in 2010 on L1B stamping. My current H1B has not been stamped yet …now I have a full time offer with another company who are transferring my H1B – But before joining them I need to go to India on personal grounds …so I need to get my H1B stamped. My question is can I go for stamping with the new H1 even though I did not join the company yet – I mean I would just have an offer letter and a letter to USCIS from the new company, but no pay stub. My trip to India can not be delayed at any cost !

    Please provide your input.


    • Raj,
      When going for H-1 stamping you need to have a valid unexpired petition. If your H-1 has been transferred (i.e. the new petition has arrived), then you can take that petition for stamping along w/ old payslips and employment related documents for the new employer. Payslips are required to show that you have maintained legal status in US, which in this case is based on old employer as you haven’t started working for the new employer. If your H-1 transfer has not been approved, then you need to go for stamping through old employer and carry their documentation.

  32. Hi Saurabh,

    I’ve a couple of questions, I’ll really appreciate if you can provide your valuable comments here.

    1. Seeing the pace at which the H1B petitions are being filed, If get the procedure started say on coming Mon to file for H1B then how much time it might take to actually file a petition at USCIS? Will premium processing help in this case?

    3. Within how many minimum weeks/months of landing in US (on H1) can I file for H1 transfer and is there any risk associated with it?

    Thanks in advance for your help.

    Best Regards,

    • Ravi,
      1. If the employer starts preparing documents on Monday, then they might need another 2-4 weeks to actually file the petition w/ USCIS. This includes LCA certification, posting on internal boards etc.
      2. You can do as quickly as the next day.

  33. Hi Saurabh,

    I was offered sponsorship by H1B company “A” during 2011 and my petition was filed. It got approved also during Aug 2011. Although I did not go for Visa stamping due to some personal reasons and this story got over.

    I checked the status and it says Expiration date 6-30-2012.

    Now I am being offerend H1B by Company “B” and I am being asked for petition and also “Any previous Approval notice from USCIS?”

    Should I mention them about the previous approved petition with company “A” that is still valid along with receipt number?

    Would it be beneficial for me or provide an added advantage/disadvantage? Will company “B” use approved petition of Company A or file a new petition?

    Thanks in Advance

    • Rohit,
      IMO, you should tell them about the past approval. This way they can file the petition as cap-exempt allowing you to start employment even prior to Oct 1. Lot of companies prefer that.

  34. hi my opt is valid till march 2013 ,my employer is ready to apply h1 if i go to india in dec 2012
    and if there is any issue in staping can i still comeback with my opt and f1 valid till march 2013

    • Pradeep,
      If your H-1 is filed and approved w/ COS, then you will be on H-1 from Oct 1 and your OPT will no longer be valid. So you cannot return on F-1/OPT in case H-1 visa is not approved.

  35. Dear All:

    I would like to share my experiences happend in Chennai consulate. H1b stamping appointment was at 11AM, I reached there by 10:45…Immediately I was sent in where all documents were verified and finger prints I was taken. After that, I was waiting for VO interview. I was asked the below questions.
    1) who is the client?
    2) Tell about your client business?
    3) which location?
    4) Highest education?

    I answered all above questions very confidantly. VO was silent for about 20 second. Finally VO said that H1 is cleared. Visa will be couriered… I said thank you and left the counter.
    IMPORTANT: I thank Saurab from my heart for making all of us comfortable before

  36. hi saurabh,
    thanks for ur suggestion. if i apply from H-4 to H-1 /cos, by PP,is there a chance of getting RFEs more ,since iam from H-4 toH-1 visa with prem.processing.I heard chances for RFE are more in PP.
    ur help in this subject is greatly appreciable.

    • Madhu,
      That is more of a personal perspective and not an established fact. IMO, if you have all the correct documents, then it will get approved irrespective of whether it filed as PP or not. Same goes for a bad application which will meet RFE and rejection.

  37. Hello there

    Can anyone provide me a list of good consultant companies who are market leader in JAVA technology Training and placement in USA (specially in Boston area but willing to relocate anywhere) ? Please help me to choose a good company I have GC so I am only looking for good training and placement.


  38. Hi,

    I am in USA right now on OPT which is expiring on 14th May. My company is doing primium processing for My H1. I should Have my H1 approved (hopefully) by end of May. My H1 start date will be 1st Octomber. My wife is in india and she is studying. She has a vacation in May to August. She and I want her to come here in the vacation. So now my question is once I get approval of H1 should she file for H4 or F2 if she wants to come before 1st Octomber (in vacation)? What legaly she can do? Where can I find reference for this situation? Your help will be greatly appriciated.

    • Nikhil Patel,
      She cannot enter on H-4 visa until Oct 1. So she will have to go for F-2 visa and then travel on F-2 visa. It would be better if she goes for her F-2 stamping while you are still on OPT. Reason being F-1/2 is a non-immigrant visa while H-1 is a dual inent visa. So it’s better to appear for F-2 visa while your H-1 has not yet been approved.

    • Nikhil Patel,
      Forgot to add – when she enters US on F-2, she will have to file COS from F-2 to H-4 to be here w/ you after Oct 1, or she will have to return to India and then come again on H-4 visa stamping.

  39. hi saurabh,
    a small correction.can i apply for h-4 to H-1 from india (july/august)W/cos. as i will come back on H-4 stamped. iam worried the quota will be over . even if i apply before june,iam not sure of approval time. should i cancel my trip as its important for me.
    please help me as iam really confused.

  40. hi,
    iam planning to apply H-1 this year-2013. iam planning to visit india this july,august..
    iam on H-4.i changed from L-2 toH-4 w/COS 2 years ago. i need stamping for H-4 when i visit india. my husband’s H-1 expires this december.
    can i visit india while my H-1 is in processing? if i get stamped on H-4 ,comeback,will it be still H-4 to H-1 w/cos?
    should i apply after coming from india?will the quota last untill sep.1st week?am i taking any risk?
    please advise me ASAP.

    • Madhu,
      If you leave US while H-1 is still processing, then your COS would be abandoned. This means your status would remain H-4 when you return to US and will not change to H-1 automatically. You will either have to file COS from H-4 to H-1 in future, or enter US on stamped H-1 visa.

      This is what you should do – file H-1 H-1 w/ COS w/ PP so that it gets approved before you leave US. Travel to India and get H-4 visa stamped and return to US on H-4 prior to Oct 1. Automatically be on H-1 from Oct 1.

      I would suggest against waiting till Sep for filing H-1, as quota may not remain open till that time.

  41. Hi Dear,

    I am on OPT untill july 2012, and filing H1B on april 2012 and i may get it approved by end of april. so my h1b strat would be Oct 1 2012. I would like to stay in india in june/july/aug for personal reasons. Is is ok if i leave to india and come back with out stampimg before these months?

    • Arjun,
      This is not possible. You cannot return to US w/o getting H-1 visa stamped as your OPT would have expired in July 2012. Had your OPT been still valid, you could have returned on F-1/OPT in Sep and then be on H-1 from Oct 1.

      • Thank You Saurabh,

        I am on valid OPT till July 14,2012. Can i travel to india in June 2012 with out any risk of coming back to US before end of June? as my presence is important in india.
        I am filing H1B in april 2012. i may get h1b approval by May 15,2012.


        • Arjun,
          If your H-1 is approved w/ COS before you leave for India, then it is fine. Make sure you return to US prior to OPT expiration date and then you can continue to be on cap-gap until Sep 30th after which H-1 will kick-in.

          Ensure you carry relevant documents for travel on OPT.

          • Saurabh, Thank you much for your valuable information.

            i would like to send my wife for f-2 visa stamping 3rd time in hyderabad while h1b is processing / h1b approved. is there any chance for VO to know my H1B status (h1b processing/ approved)? Is better to wait till h4 kicks in (oct 1 ) or is there any way to get f-2 visa for my wife or any other visa like B -1/F-1?

            Thanks in advance. really appreciate ur effort.

          • Arjun,
            If you will be working for a reputable employer, then it is better to have H-4 filed. You said F-2 for the 3rd time. Were there rejections in the previous attempts? If yes, then avoid another F-2 and instead go for H-4.

            I don’t think they would know about pending H-1, but they would know about the approved H-1.

          • Saurab thankyou for your information. I recently paid fee for my wife f -2 visa 3rd attempt. Is it OK to give a try even it is 3rd attempt? Can I change the fee receipt from f-2 to h-4 as my wife is afraid of going 3rd time on f-2? Please let me know any valuable information. Thanks in advance. Arjun

          • Arjun,
            As her F-2 has been rejected in the past, it’s better to go for H-4 and not F-2 now. Do you know the rejection reasons for previous F-2s?

  42. Dear Saurab,

    My Visa interview at Chennai consulate is scheduled for 3rd April. I have two below queries for which I am bit nervous. Can you help me please?

    1) I have obtained a new passport recently because of Spouse Addition and Change of address. Petition forms are holding the old passport number since I applied for H1B before I obtain new passport. – Will it be a problem for me? How to handle if it is asked?

    2) My Salary in LCA is just 48K, but which is as per the state norms. Most of my friends tell that the interviewer will question this and suggest to speak as allowances such as Car, House are not covered in this figure, Indian Salary will also be given in India as well — Can you suggest how to approach this?

    Thanks in advance for your help!


    • Rajan,
      1. It would be fine. Your new passport will have reference to old passport number.
      2. Are you going for H-1 interview? If yes, then it should be fine as long as you are getting paid at least the amount mentioned in LCA. The salary given in India, doesn’t matter. If the employer will offer other benefits like pre-tax transportation, health insurance etc then you can mention them as well.

  43. Hi Saurabh ,

    I got my petition approval on Feb 29th. Since my husband does not have a valid H1B.He is planning to come on H4.He is presently working in Cognizant.I dont want him to put down his papers till i get a project in US.Can you please suggest what evidence should he show in the US counsalate during stamping to prove that he will be travelling with me?


    • Raji,
      I think he can go for stamping w/ you. The VO may ask him what he is doing currently and what he would do in US. He can mention about his current Indian job and that he would join you sometime in future after resigning from current employer. It is not required to have already left the job at the time of H-4 interview. When going together, the focus of interview will be on you and not him.

      • Thank you soo much saurabh for a quick reply.Can you also tell us what proof should he show from the current employer to the US Embassy during stamping.

        • Raji,
          I don’t think any proof is required from his current employer. I have hardly seen any case where they asked for employment proof from the H-4 visa interviewee.

          • Hi Saurabh ,

            Hope you re fine. Your reply really helps us a lot . .. 🙂 Apprecaite your patience to answer all the questions in this forum 🙂 … I have one question for my husband . Since he is appearing as a H1B dependent .Can you tell me what can he answer if he is asked ‘What will he do in US’ by VO? Thanks for your response.


  44. Hi Saurabh,

    My STEM OPT is going to be expired in Feb 2013. And my F1 Visa is going to be expired in May 2013. I am going on a trip to India from May 24th – June 16th 2012.
    I was told that I have to file H1 this year since I won’t be in status in March 2013.
    And if I file H1 in April 2012, can i travel to India in the above dates. The problem is I must travel to India during the above dates due to some personal commitments. I thought of applying after I come back from India. But, my Employer said this year quota will be completed very soon, and he insisted to apply in April. If my H1 is approved when I am in India, can I enter US?? or If my H1 is still in process when i am coming back, can I enter US?? Please advice.

    • Ambarish,
      There are two options:
      1. File H-1 w/o COS. You will return on F-1/OPT and will remain on H-1 status. Later, you can decide to file COS to H-1 when you are back in US and ready to move to H-1.
      2. File w/ COS and premium processing. Ensure that your petition gets approved w/ COS before you leave. You can then still return on F-1/OPT and be on H-1 from Oct 1. If you leave US while COS is pending, then it will be abandoned and will become #1.

        • and If i follow #2, can I use my current OPT status until Feb 2013, I mean,
          If i have to go to India in Sep/Oct 2012, do i need to go to stamping??
          can i travel to & fro w/o stamping until feb 2013??

        • Ambarish,
          In #2, you don’t necessarily need to go for stamping. Why do you want to go for stamping? You can still return on stamped F-1 visa and be on H-1 from Oct 1.

          If you want to use OPT until Feb-13, then you should file it w/ option #1.

  45. Hi Saurabh,

    I had posted a question about transfer of H1 on this site earlier when i was back in india.After reaching US, i am getting different responses from lot of people around me ,so just wanted to confirm.
    I have started working for employer A from last week.Since i am planning to change my job.Couple of questions:
    1) Is it mandatory to work for 3 months in company A for me?
    2)Do you see any issue in transfer of H1 if an employee switches job too quickly (say 1 month)


    • Akshay,
      1. It is not mandatory to work for A for 3 months before filing H-1 transfer. You have been in US for just 1 month, right? In that case you can still initiate transfer based on 1 month payslip. 3 months’ payslips are required only when the person has been in US on H-1 for more than 3 months.
      2. I don’t see any issues just b/c you changed employer within 1 month.

  46. Hello,
    I am currently on OPT extension, which expires in July 2012. I am applying for H-1B (Premium) this April 2012, so hopefully, I should get it by April 15. When is the earliest I can travel to India to get my stamping done? Do I have to wait until September 20th, if my H-1 status is starting on October 1st?
    Please advise, and thanks so much for the help!

    • Pooja,
      If your H-1 gets approved w/ COS (change of status) then you can start working on H-1 w/o getting the visa stamped. Your H-1 can start not before Oct 1, but you can continue to stay and work on cap-gap status, which is granted when:
      – H-1 is applied w/ start date of Oct 1
      – H-1 is applied w/ COS
      – you are in valid F-1/OPT status at the time of filing

      Do you really want to travel to India, or want to go there just for stamping?

      • Hello Saurabh,
        Thanks for the quick response!
        I would like to travel to India for personal reasons (wedding) and also get stamping done at the same time if possible. Hence, I would like to know the earliest date I can get the stamping done. Is it possible to do it in June/July or do I have to wait until October? This would help us set the wedding date. And yes, I do qualify for Cap-Gap.

        • Pooja,
          You can get H-1 visa stamped at most 3 months prior to H-1 start date. So if H-1 gets approved for Oct 1, you can go for H-1 stamping after July 1.

          However, you cannot return to US until Sep 20th on H-1. Your OPT would have expired in July and H-1 won’t start until Oct. So you will have to stay out of US until Sep 20th (earliest date to enter US on H-1).

          • Pooja,

            i am also in same situation. i would like to travel to india before July 14,2012 as my OPT expires. but i may have h1b approved and cap gap I-20 before may 15,2012. so i am planning to travel in may end or june 1st week. i think i may not get any probelm while entering US at port of entry. They may ask about my OPT end date as july 14 and why i am coming back.

            Let’s see

  47. Hi Saurabh,

    I am currently in US on L1B expiring in May 2012 and my company is planning to file H1B premium in April 2012. Suppose if my H1B gets approved then what will be the start date of my H1B Petition? Will it be immediately from the date it gets approved or it will be Oct 2012? Please advise.

    • Mehul,
      The earliest possible start date for H-1 is Oct 1. If it gets processed and approved later, then whatever the actual approval date. This is assuming COS is approved w/ H-1.

  48. Hi Saurabh,

    I have a query in regard to change of employer..
    Just to tell you the background, i have been hired by employer A on h1b…i couldn’t negotiate much on compensation stuff but i believe i can get better job in US.
    Is there any particular time limit like 1-2 months which one is obliged to serve in a particular company….Someone told me USCIS monitors visa for a couple of month and might consider a frauad if employer changes within 1-2 months…
    Your thoughts?

    • XYZ,
      I don’t know of any such monitoring and would one to expect employers anytime and also as early as possible. When a person files for H-1 transfer from out of US, they are basically changing employers w/o even working for them in US. And transfers get approved in this case.

  49. hi Saurabh,
    my visa and I94 are expiring in a month (march 30th 2012) i have applied extension in dec2011 but have not got it yet.
    if i dont get it by 30th march, would i become illegal to stay ? do i have to go out of country?

    • Jit,
      You can continue to stay for at most 240 days after your I-94 expires, but your extension is still pending. In case your extension is denied, then you will have to leave US ASAP.


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