How Do You Obtain an H-1B Visa?

Obtaining H-1B Visa at U.S. Embassy/Consulate

  1. Check the Embassy website for your country for instructions on applying for the visa – http://usembassy.state.gov/.*
  2. Complete the DS-160 Nonimmigrant Visa Application, pay the visa application fee, and schedule your appointment: https://ceac.state.gov/CEAC/.  You will need the receipt number from your H-1B approval notice and your valid passport.
  3. It is advisable that you bring copies of the H-1B petition which includes the approval notice, the certified Labor Condition Application (LCA), and proof of employment (such as pay stubs, employer letter) as supporting documentation to your interview.
  4. Prior to the interview, review the H-1B petition and employer letter to be familiar with the details of the position, i.e. job description and requirements, job sites, salary, and how you meet the requirements of the job.
  5. Upon entry to the U.S., the CBP officers at the airport may also ask about your H-1B eligibility. When CBP grants entry, they will stamp the passport with the entry information (date and place of entry with H-1B notation and date of expiration).  Check your passport before you leave the CBP officer to be sure the expiration date matches your H-1B approval notice.  Mistakes can happen and you want to save yourself a trip back to the airport to correct the expiration date.
  6. After entry, print out your I-94 arrival record immediately to insure that the information was correctly added to the CBP electronic system. To print out the electronic I-94 admission go to: https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov/I94/#/home.

*Alternative to going to the home country for the visa, an H-1B employee can apply for the visa at one of the U.S. Consulates in Canada or Mexico.  Applicants who wish to apply for their U.S. visa in Canada must visit https://ais.usvisa-info.com/en-CA/niv to obtain information about how to start their application for a U.S. visa.   Applicants who wish to apply for their visa in Mexico must visit https://ais.usvisa-info.com/en-MX/niv to obtain information.  Applicants will be required to pay their visa application processing fee prior to scheduling an appointment.  Documentation for this procedure is the same as the above.  Be mindful that some foreign nationals may be required to obtain a visitor visa to enter Canada.  It is imperative that you carry the correct documentation because if the Consulate denies the visa, you will not be allowed to return to the U.S. and may be required to travel to your home country to obtain the necessary visa.

Please note that U.S. embassies and consulates in Canada and Mexico will not accept applications from nationals of Iran, Sudan or Syria.

WARNING: Whenever you apply to the U.S. consulate for a new entry visa stamp, there is always the risk that your application may be denied or be placed in Administrative Processing for further review.  Our office recently received two reports of H-1B visa delays at the U.S. consulates in India.  So as directed in #3 and #4 above, be prepared. Prior to any plans for travel, consult with Immigration Counsel if you have any current or past criminal charges.

 

About the Author: Robin Vermette

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