After you get the H1B visa approval notice, you would apply for H1B visa stamping either for in-person or H1B Renewal using Dropbox. If you get visa approval at the US consulate, they would stick a US Visa foil or stamping sticker in your passport. In this article, we review on how the H1B visa stamp in passport looks, and what they mean.
Also, when you arrive at the US Port of Entry and go through PoE Process, you would get an I-94 issued either electronically or a paper that is like a card ( if you arrive by road), we review that sample and details as well.
Sample H1B visa stamp in Passport – Meaning?
US H1B visa foil or stamp glued in passport looks like any other typical US Visa Stamp, with the main difference of Class listed as H1B. Below is a sample H1B Visa foil stamp in the passport. Most of the fields are self-explanatory and described in detail at Sample US Visa Stamp – Fields meanings. Below are the fields that are specific to H1B Visa :
- Visa Type / Class: This would show as R H1B. The first one is Visa Type, which is the type of visa like ‘R’ stands for ‘Regular’ and Visa Class, which you would see as ‘H1B’
- Entries: This would usually be M, which stands for multiple
- Expiration Date: This corresponds to the H1B Petition expiration date. Usually, it would be given until the end of the H1B petition, but at times you may get it shorter.
- Annotation: This is the area, where you would see the details of the H1B sponsoring company and the receipt number of the H1B Petition and followed by the expiration date, which would say PED ( Petition End Date ) followed by the end date of the petition.
What to look out for in H1B Visa Stamp after Receiving it?
While most of the time, the details on H1B Visa may look fine. But, sometimes, there can be errors and you may need to get them correct. So, look closely for the below fields.
- Check important personal details like Passport number, Birth date.
- Petition Details are usually for 3 years, you should look at the Issue date and Expiration date if they match the same or not. If you have already used more than 4 years on H1B, then if you go for stamping your visa stamp will only be for the remaining two years. The overall time period for an H1B visa is typically 3 years with an extension for another 3 years to total 6 years.
- An entry ‘M’ indicates Multiple entries. Sometimes, you may get ‘S’, which means ‘Single‘
- Check the H1B sponsoring company name and receipt number info. Also, the PED is the ‘Petition End Date’.
After you get H1B Visa stamping done at the consulate, you would use the same to enter the US at any US Port of Entry(PoE). When you enter, US Customs and Border Protection(CBP) Officer would review all the details and issue you an I-94 and also puts a stamp on your passport with CBP Location Code, that is relevant to the PoE location. Let’s look at the I-94 details below.
Sample I-94 Card issued to H1B holder at PoE
Any foreign national entering or exiting the US would be issued a form called I-94, which is nothing but the Arrival-Departure Record to track the individual. In fact, it is a legal document that indicates that you have legally entered the United States.
If you enter the US on land by road, you would be issued a paper i-94 form that looks like in the below screenshot. Otherwise, since April 2013, you would be issued an Electronic I-94 Card. There is nothing that you need to fill out if you are issued an electronic I-94. Everything is tracked online and you can check it online as well. If you were issued a physical I-94 card, you have to turn it back in when you leave the country.
If CBP systems do not work, you may be asked to fill out the I-94 form as well. In such cases, you are supposed to fill out the correct details every time at the Port of entry. Read How to Fill I-94 Form – Arrival Departure Card USA.
The I-94 process is pretty much electronic, but occasionally, you will need to fill it out manually. If you fill out a physical I-94 form, the CBP officer will tear a stub and stamp it and give it to you with H1B on it and the date until when you can stay in the US. See the below screenshot of the sample I-94 card with the H1B Visa CBP stamp on it.
Along with the I-94, CBP Officer also puts a similar stamp on your passport and writes a date that tells the date until when you can stay in the country. It is the I-94 end date. It also has the CBP Port of Entry code Location code like ‘SFR’ stands for ‘San Francisco, CA’. It looks like in the below screenshot.
What to verify on I-94 given for H1B Visa?
At the port of entry, US CBP Officer will verify your passport, H1B visa stamp, and then stamp on your passport and/or I-94 card indicating the date you entered the US. The immigration officer will also indicate the US Visa status that you are entering in and the validity of your stay in the US. For H1B Visa, you would see H1B written on the stamp and also, check the end date.
Occasionally, the CBP officers make minor clerical mistakes and put in the wrong end date on I-94 and then it is a hassle to get it fixed. Check How to get I-94 Renewed or Extended in US to get an idea of the complexity. You should verify the type of visa he writes.
If the CBP officer makes a mistake, it can be an issue later when applying for Social Security Number. My cousin had an issue, where the officer put in just ‘H1’ instead of ‘H1B’, and the SSN office people create trouble and she had to go to the airport again and get it resolved. It was a mess! Do not overlook it. Also, if you are arriving on H1B, the officer will write the precise date on I-94, which should be the expiration of your H1B visa on I-797 Approval Notice.
What are your thoughts?