After you get H1B Visa stamping done and complete all the pre-departure tasks for H1B Visa in your home country, you need to plan for your port of entry process. Getting H1B Visa at Consulate does not mean you can enter the US automatically. You will be interviewed by CBP Officer at the port of entry and they need to let you in after review. Though it is not a complicated process and most of the H1B holders are allowed to enter the US, there are few instances, where some were denied entry. In this article, we cover H1B visa documents checklist that you need to carry and what you need be prepared with.
US Port of entry Process – H1B Visa
The US Port of entry process for H1B Visa holders is no different from other visa types. The general process is same, except that for H1B visa holders, they may ask and review H1B visa related documentation. Read US Port of Entry Procedures, Common FAQs to understand the general process at port of entry and what to expect.
As H1B visa holder is entering US to work in US, they need to carry all the required documentation. US CBP officer may ask to review all the documents as needed. Below is complete list of documents to carry.
H1B Port of Entry Documents Checklist
- Original Passport with valid H1B Visa stamp issued by Consulate on it.
- H1B Visa Approval notice from USCIS ( Form I-797A Notice of Action)
- Copy of H1B Labor Condition Application(LCA)
- Job offer letter given by the H1B sponsoring company
- Employee agreement that you may have signed with your H1B Sponsoring company
- Your original educational certificates from Bachelors degree, Masters Degree(if applicable), your high school certificates ( 10th, 12th grade)
- If you have studied in US like MS or any other degree, you need to carry below documents
- Previous I20s from schools you attended
- OPT card related to your employment before H1B Visa
- STEM OPT card ( if applicable) that you may have used before H1B.
- Previous W2 Tax forms, if you have worked on F1 Visa in CPT.
- If you have previously worked on H1B for the sponsor
- Last 6 months pay slips
- W2 Tax forms from past
- (Optional) If you worked in past at a Client as third party placement previously on H1B Visa
- Client letter
- Time sheets
- Any project related documentation
- (Optional) If you are going to work at Client on H1B visa, you can carry copy of Client letter
- (Optional) Experience letters related to your previous work, if any
- (Optional) If you have any professional licenses or certificates, you can carry them as well.
- (Optional) Copy of your resume that was used in H1B visa filing
In addition to above, talk to your attorney and carry other documentation that they suggest. You need to carry all supporting documentation related to your H1B visa petition stating that you have a job in US and it is speciality occupation.
Address and Contact information in USA
- You will need the address information of where you will stay in America and what are the arrangements for the initial stay. At times, you may have to fill it out in the I-94 form at port of entry., if taking journey by land or the systems do not work. Make sure you have the address and contact number in USA.
- Also, you would need to carry the information of the person you are going to meet in America. It could be your manager or one of your company’s employees. The reason is, if you end up into any issues, you can reach out to them.
- You may not be asked to show these documents in transit airports, when you are have connecting flights, but it is good to have all the info.
US Port of Entry questions by CBP Officer
You would be asked a set of questions related to your employment, company or anything that is related to your H1B. You need to answer the questions properly and correctly so that CBP officer can allow you to enter US. The questions can range around topics like below
- Purpose of your travel
- Your stay in the US, address.
- Your previous job info
- Your family ties or friends in the US
- Stuff you are carrying to US
- Your H1B job-related info
We have compiled a list of questions that you can expect, check US Port of Entry Questions by CBP Officer
Short Term Travel Insurance for Travel to US on H1B
When you are traveling to US for the first time and not sure, what and where to buy, you can take Short Term Travel Insurance from places like Visitors Coverage – Health Insurance, where you can search and opt for the short term travel insurance. Once you are settled in the first few weeks, then you can buy domestic insurance from US providers or have your employer cover it.
Where to keep your H1B Visa Supporting Documents?
You will need all your documents related to H1B visa, and supporting documents, when you meet the CBP officer at Port of Entry. The interview with CBP officer at PoE happens before you collect your checked-in luggage bags. So, it is important that you do not put in all your documents in the checked-in bags as you will not be able to have them before the Port of Entry interview with CBP officer.
So, make sure you keep all these important documents with you in person in your laptop or backpack that you carry on the plane along with you. If you put any of these documents in luggage check-in you may be in difficult situation not able to show these documents. You can check US Port of Entry Experiences Tracker to know more on common questions.
Process at Port of Entry for H1B Visa Holder
The CBP Officer would verify the identity of the person, would ask the H1B holder to give biometrics and take a picture as well. The CBP officer would review the applicant’s file in system and ask them common questions like where they are going to work, city name, company name, salary, validity of approval notice and may ask to give the documents to verify.
Once it is all good, then the officer would stamp the passport and enter the admit until date and class as H1B on the passport stamp. If there are no red flags raised by the system, and CBP officer is convinced, they will let you enter US. If there are any issues, they would take you for secondary inspection and ask more questions and verify more documents and hold you for sometime. If they are not convinced, they can deny your entry to US and send you back to your home country. The denial of entry happens in very rare cases, where there is fraud or misrepresentation of documents or anything as such.
Did I miss anything ? Did you carry any other documents ?
Were you asked any other set of documents ?