What you need to do after your H-1B visa is approved
Applying for an H-1B visa can take a significant amount of time, from obtaining a specialty occupation to having your petition selected in the H-1B lottery. Now that you’ve been approved by the USCIS, what are your next steps?
Applying for an H-1B visa can take a significant amount of time, from obtaining a specialty occupation to having your petition selected in the H-1B lottery.
If you’re one of the lucky ones whose H1-B visa has been approved by the USCIS, read this guide for the key next steps that you should take.
Step one: confirm your status change
To check the status of your case, visit the USCIS website and enter your receipt number. Because your H-1B petition was approved, you should receive a message that states your case approval, including your receipt number and the date that your Form I-129 (Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker) was approved.
The message should also state that USCIS will mail your approval notice to the petitioner (your employer) or an immigration attorney if your employer used an attorney to file your case. Your employer or their attorney will send you a hard copy of the approval notice.
If your H-1B application was filed for a Change of Status, an updated I-94 (Arrival-Departure Record) will be attached to the approval notice.
Step two: schedule an H1B visa stamping interview
Once you have your H1-B approval, you will need to schedule an appointment for an H-1B visa interview with your local U.S. embassy or consulate through that office’s web page. After a successful visa interview, you will receive a stamp in your passport to formally finalize the process.
Applying for visa stamping is allowed up to 90 days before the start date of your petition. For example, if your H-1B visa is cap-subject and selected during the lottery, the start date will be October 1 (or the first day of the USCIS fiscal year). This means you can schedule your visa stamping interview on or after July 1.
After you’ve scheduled an appointment for your visa stamping, USCIS will issue you an appointment letter. Retain this letter, as you will need to bring it with you to your interview.
Step three: obtain a photograph
After scheduling your visa stamping interview appointment, you must obtain a photograph of yourself for your H-1B visa. This photograph must comply with the following requirements:
It must be in color
It must be square
It must be a minimum of 600 pixels by 600 pixels and a maximum of 1,200 pixels by 1,200 pixels
It should be saved as a JPEG, no larger than 240 kilobytes.
Step four: complete Form DS-160
Next, gather the information necessary for completing Form DS-160 (Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application). This application can only be submitted electronically to the U.S. Department of State.
For your DS-160 application, you will need the following information:
Your travel itinerary, including your flight information (if you’ve already made these arrangements)
Travel details from the past five years, including travel to the United States and other countries
The date(s) you most recently traveled to the U.S. (if applicable)
The address of the location where you intend on staying in the United States
Your contact person’s information, including name, phone number, email address and physical address. Typically, the contact person would be your U.S. employer
The names and contact information of any relatives you may have in the United States
Information pertaining to your family, including your mother’s and father’s full names and dates of birth
Current U.S. work-related information, including the following:
Name and address of your current employer
Your monthly salary (you can find this information on the certified Labor Condition Application (LCA))
Description of your job duties
Past work-related details, including the following:
Names, addresses and phone numbers of previous employers, your previous job titles, employment start date and end date, the name of your previous supervisor and his or her job title and job duties
Past education-related information, including the following:
Name and address of your high school and the date you graduated
Name and address of the academic institution where you received your bachelor’s degree and the date the degree was awarded
Name and address of the academic institution where you received your master’s degree (and any additional degrees) and the date the degree(s) were awarded
You will also need (1) your current, valid passport (2) any previous visas that you were issued and (3) Form I-1797 (Notice of Action).
When completing Form DS-160, take your time and make sure that you have answered all questions accurately and truthfully. Providing false information could result in a rejection, in which case you may not receive your H-1B visa stamp.
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Step five: schedule an appointment with an Offsite Facilitation Center
Schedule an appointment with an Offsite Facilitation Center to have your biometrics taken. As per the Visa Application Center (VAC), you will need to have your fingerprints taken before your H-1B visa stamping interview.
Step six: attend your H-1B stamping interview
Finally, attend your visa stamping interview. Make sure that you bring all necessary documents with you to your interview, including:
Current and expired passports
Your H-1B photograph
A copy of you VAC-stamped DS-160 confirmation page
A copy of your DS-160 receipt
A copy of your visa stamping appointment letter
Documents related to your H-1B petition
Any necessary supplementary documentation that may be necessary
What to expect during the visa stamping interview
During your visa stamping appointment (also known as “consular processing”), you will have an interview with a consular officer.
You must present all necessary documentation to the consular officer, as well as answer several questions. These questions will pertain to your education and experience, your intentions and your sponsor employer.
While the questions consular officers ask vary and are determined on a case-by-case basis, examples of some of the questions include:
What is the highest degree that you have completed?
Where did you receive your degree?
What is your previous experience in the specialty occupation?
Why do you want to work in the United States?
Have you lived in any other country, besides your home country?
Do any of your family members currently live in the U.S.?
Do you intend on returning to your home country when your H-1B visa status expires?
The road to the U.S. through an H-1B visa can be a long and arduous one, but following these steps after your approval will help you smoothly complete the process.
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