If an applicant’s H1B petition has been approved, he or she may begin working in H1B status within the United States. If the applicant is abroad and does not have a valid H1B stamp to enter the United States, he or she must prepare for the visa stamping interview at the consulate. Remember, the consulate interview could be considered a re-adjudication of the petition. Meaning, the consular office can evaluate the entire petition again. If the officer finds something unusual, he or she could returned to USCIS for cancellation.
1. What Is the H-1B Visa?
The H-1B is a temporary work visa for nonimmigrant professionals with petitioning employers. This is given to those who work in specialty occupations in the United States. These occupations require a bachelor’s degree or a certification for advanced level of education. The visa allows foreign professionals to work in the U.S. for three years and can be extended for a total of six years. It also allows dependent immediate family members—children and spouse—to live or study in the U.S. on an H-4 visa.
After an H-1B visa applicant’s H-1B visa is approved by USCIS, the next step will be to appear at a U.S. Consulate to get your H-1B visa stamp. The applicant will have to schedule their H-1B visa stamping interview. Once cleared for the interview, the applicant will need to provide documents, which will be outlined in this guide, along with the H-1B visa stamping process itself.
2. The H-1B Visa Stamping Process
H-1B visa stamping refers to the endorsement of the applicant’s visa.
While having an approved H-1B visa stamp is one of the requirements for entry into the United States, it doesn’t guarantee an automatic entry into the country. Upon arriving at the port of entry, applicants will need to present themselves for inspection by Customs and Border Patrol (CBP). CBP will have to final say over whether or not you are permitted to enter the U.S.
The stamping process involves the following steps:
2A. Submitting Form DS-160 (Nonimmigrant Visa Application)
Applicants can fill out their Form DS-160 electronically by visiting the Department of State’s website at https://ceac.state.gov/genniv/. Once they complete filling it out, they’ll see a 10-digit barcode on the confirmation form. Applicants should print a copy of the form with the barcode for future reference. If the spouse and dependent children are also applying for an H-4 visa together, each must file their own DS-160.
2B. Paying the application fees, scheduling the appointment
Applicants must pay the necessary fees. After this, they can proceed to schedule two appointments, one with the Offsite Facilitation Center and the other with the consulate or embassy.
Foreign professionals, according to the Visa Application Center, must schedule an appointment with the embassy or consulate at least two days before their interview. They must also submit their biometrics information (complete fingerprints).
Note that the H-1B application comes with fees that can be processed electronically. Applicants can visit the U.S. Visa Service website to select a payment that suits them the best. The application payment is good for only one year, so it’s best for applicants to schedule their appointment within this period.
If the spouse and dependent children are also applying for an H-4 visa together, each must pay associated fees.
2C. Attending the interview
H-1B visa applicants (and any H-4 dependent applicant) must go to their assigned consulate for the interview proper and prepare the following:
VAC-stamped DS-160 confirmation page (with 10-digit barcode)
Original I-797 Form (Visa Notice of Approval)
The applicant’s passports, both expired and current
Visa application payment receipt
Employer-provided H-1B visa petition letter
A letter from the applicant’s employer verifying their employment (job offer letter)
Copy of the H-1B visa petition submitted to USCIS, which includes: the LCA for nonimmigrants classified under H-1B, and the H classification supplement for form I-129
Applicant’s payslips (at least three months’ worth), provided that they were working on H-1B, if the applicant was previously in H-1B status in the U.S.
Monthly bank statements for the last three months
Supporting documents related to their petition which were filed with USCIS
H-1B visa photo, which must meet specific guidelines. It should be a square, colored photo that’s saved as JPEG. The size shouldn’t exceed 240 kilobytes and should meet the minimum dimensions of 600 pixels by 600 pixels or the maximum dimensions of 1200 pixels by 1200 pixels.
3. Supporting Documents
The following documents on this list may not be required. However, it’s a good idea for applicants to bring them should they be needed during the interview:
The applicant’s resume or CV
Company description and documents of the applicant’s company’s projects
H-1B approval notice from the applicant’s previous employer, if applicable
4. Education-Related Documents
Moreover, applicants should bring the following educational documents to their visa interview:
Official transcripts from the applicant’s undergraduate or graduate universities, including official transcripts from other certificates that the applicant may have received
Official certificates for the applicant’s degree or diploma, or both
Original I-20s forms, for those with a degree from the U.S.
OPT EAD cards, if applicable, for those who studied and worked in the U.S. on F-1 visa
5. Work Experience Documentation
If the applicant qualified for the H1B visa based upon previous work experience, the applicant should bring those experience letters which were submitted to USCIS with the petition.
6. U.S. Government Documents
Applicants are also advised to bring the following supplementary documents:
1040s tax returns, for those worked in the U.S
W-2 tax forms the applicant received within the last two years, for those worked in the U.S
S. Social security card, for those have one
7. Documents for Spouse and Children
Those who will apply for an H-4 visa for their family members (spouse and dependent children) are advised to bring the following documents:
Spouse and dependent children’s passports
Original marriage certificate and other supporting documents, such as wedding photos
Original birth certificate for each child
8. Be Prepared for the Interview
When going in for the H-1B visa stamping, keep in mind the requirements of the H-1B visa: applicants must have a legitimate job offer from a U.S.-based employer, the job must be a specialty occupation job, and the apppicant should qualify for the H-1B visa by having at least a bachelor’s degree or the equivalent work experience in the field of the occupation.
9. Question Topics
Visa Intent – purpose of trip, type of employment, understanding the purpose of the visa
The employer – size, type of business, location, contact person
The job – duties, qualifications, supervisor, location, project, client
Applicant’s qualifications – education, experience
Applicant’s personal, travel, criminal, security history
10. Interview tips
Review and know the H-1B visa petition filed with USCIS
Know details about the employer
Know details about the H-1B visa job
Be confident, speak clearly at the interview
Be honest and forthright
Listen to the questions asked by the Consular Officer and answer them clearly
Take documents well organized, tabbed for easy and quick access
11. H1B 221G
Remember, since the types of questions can range in type and duration. We strongly recommend searching the web and online communities for the most recent experiences from applicants such as yourself. Please click on this article to read more about how to avoid 221g.
Ensuring complete documentation, proper filing, and payment fees can be daunting. To be approved for an H-1B visa, you must make sure that all required documents are filled out properly and filed on time. There are also new regulations that might be confusing for those not familiar with immigration law. So it’s always best to work with an immigration attorney who can assess your situation and ensure that your petition is filed properly.
Consult with an H-1B visa lawyer who has extensive knowledge of immigration laws, particularly in business and employment immigration. At Ramchand & Raval, our immgration lawyers have the expertise guide you through the H-1B process.
Get professional advice. Schedule a consultation with an H-1B visa lawyer now.