The H-1B is a highly-sought after non-immigrant visa so if you've received an approval notice, congratulations on being one step closer to working in the United States. In this guide, we'll go over the process of receiving an approval notice from beginning to end, as well as frequently asked questions. H-1B Approval Notice Process & Steps The first step is to petition for the H-1B visa in the annual lottery. Employers register their beneficiaries with the USCIS database before the start of the filing window. The window is open from March 1, 2023 to March 17, 2023. When the lottery is conducted 65,000 are selected for the regular cap and 20,000 are selected for the H-1B master’s cap. The petitions that are selected in the lottery will have the petition receipt number and notices forwarded to the applicant by the petitioning employer. From there, the applicant can check the status to see if the application has been approved using the petition receipt number through the online system. Applications that have been approved will have an approval notice sent to the employer from USCIS. From there, the H-1B employee will receive it so that they can show it at the visa office for stamping. H-1B visas applied for in the US with a change of status will have an I-94 attached to the approval notice, which indicates the validity of the change and the duration of the visa. Stamping of the Visa in the Passport So you've received your H-1B approval notice from the petitioning employer (or your attorney) - now what? You can now schedule a visa interview with the U.S. embassy so they can stamp the H-1B visa in your passport! Documents You Will Need \tFiled DS-160 Form \tBiometric information \tFee for visa H-1B Visa and Stamping Supporting Documents Required \tDS-160 Barcode confirmation \tAppointment Schedule letter \tH-1B Visa Approval Notice \tI-129, Petition for Non-immigrant worker \tH Classification Supplement to Form I-129 \tOffer letter from current employer \tCopy of resume \tDocuments related to the nature of the business you will be doing \tAny prior H-1B approval notices \tI-797 A, B or C \tProof of education like official transcripts, diplomas, certificates, original I-20 forms, etc. Discuss with your attorney which documents apply to your specific case. Documents For Dependents (Spouse and Children, if applicable) \tOriginal Notice of Action Form I-797 for the principal applicant \tPrincipal applicant's copy of valid visa (if not applying together with dependents) \tMarriage Certificate & wedding photos \tOriginal birth certificate for child \tForm I-129 of principal applicant Approved H-1B Visa Petition with Change of Status You can start working on or after your H-1B visa start date (noted on the Approval Notice) if your petition is approved with a change of status and you live in the United States. This could be a change of status like F-1 visa to H-1B , L-2 to H-1B, L-1 to H-1B, H4 to H-1B or something else. If you are changing from F1 to H-1B then your status changes to H-1B on the H-1B start date, regardless if your OPT period continues to be valid for months afterwards. Your H-1B start date will be October 1, 2023. If you are changing from H-4 to H-1B your status changes on the H-1B start date. When do you need to get H-1B stamping? Only when you travel outside of the United States. Approved H-1B Visa Petition without Change of Status (living in the U.S.) In the case that your H-1B is approved and you are not changing your status and are currently living in the United States, you need to leave the country to return to your home country get the H-1B stamp at a consulate then reenter the U.S. up to ten days prior to the approval date on October 1. Ask your immigration attorney about the best time to get the stamping. Approved H-1B Visa Petition (living outside the U.S.) You will need to get your H-1B stamp before you can enter the U.S. Schedule your H-1B stamping at a consulate near you outside of the U.S. Frequently Asked Questions Below you will find answers to the most commonly asked questions about the topic: What is an H-1B approval notice? An H-1B approval notice is a document issued by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to a foreign worker who has been granted permission to work in the United States under an H-1B visa. The approval notice is also known as an I-797, Notice of Action. The notice contains important information such as the worker's name, the name of the employer, the job title, the location of the job, the duration of the visa, and the start and end dates of the worker's authorized stay in the United States. It is a crucial document as it serves as proof of your legal status in the United States and your authorization to work for a specific employer. How many days will it take to get an H-1B approval notice? If you opt for premium processing, it takes 15 days plus time for the Approval Notice to be mailed. Regular processing times can vary depending on which service center is handling the petition, whether it is cap-subject, requires an RFE at any point, etc. For those who want the fastest processing time possible, it is highly recommended to opt for premium processing. Processing Timeframes by Service Center Below you will find H-1B processing times for various service centers (as of February 2023): California Service Center \tFor H-1B specialty occupation- change of status in the U.S. 80% of cases are completed in 2.5 months; 100% of cases are completed within 4.5 months. \tFor H-1B specialty occupation- visa to be issued abroad 80% of cases are completed in 2.5 months; 100% of cases are completed within 4.5 months. Nebraska Service Center \tFor H-1B specialty occupation- extension of stay in the U.S. 80% of cases are completed in 2.5 months; 100% of cases are completed within 4.5 months. Texas Service Center \tFor H-1B specialty occupation- change of status in the U.S. 80% of cases are completed in 2 months; 100% of cases are completed within 4 months. \tFor H-1B specialty occupation- visa to be issued abroad 80% of cases are completed in 2 months; 100% of cases are completed within 4 months. \tFor H-1B specialty occupation- extension of stay in the U.S. 80% of cases are completed in 3 weeks; 100% of cases are completed within 2.5 months. Vermont Service Center \tFor H-1B specialty occupation- change of status in the U.S. 80% of cases are completed in 2.5 months; 100% of cases are completed within 4.4 months. \tFor H-1B specialty occupation- visa to be issued abroad 80% of cases are completed in 2.5 months; 100% of cases are completed within 4.5 months. \tFor H-1B specialty occupation- extension of stay in the U.S. 80% of cases are completed in 2.5 months; 100% of cases are completed within 4.5 months. Does USCIS email H-1B approval notice? USCIS will send an email notification upon deciding a case with Premium Processing, however, it is important to note that this is merely a courtesy and not an official approval. How can I check my H-1B approval notice? You should receive a physical H-1B approval notice in the mail from USCIS, usually within several weeks after your application is approved. If you haven't received your approval notice within 30 days of your application being approved, you can contact USCIS to request a duplicate copy. You can also check the status of your H-1B application online through the USCIS website. To do this, you will need your receipt number, which you can find on the notice USCIS sent you when they received your application. To check your status online: \tGo to the USCIS website: \tEnter your receipt number in the space provided \tClick on the "Check Status" button The website will provide you with the current status of your application, as well as any updates or requests for additional information. However, keep in mind that it may take some time for the online status to be updated after a decision has been made, so it's still important to wait for your physical approval notice to arrive in the mail. What if I am porting to a new employer and my extension of stay has been granted, can I use my existing visa stamp? If you are in this situation and you are not required to travel outside of the United States then you can utilize the H-1B stamp in your passport for as long as it remains valid. In the event that your change of status has been approved and you are traveling outside the United States or if your H-1B petition has been approved for consular notification, you will need to apply at the U.S. Consulate for a new H-1B visa. Processing times of your visa can be slowed down by administrative delays or security checks no matter where you apply for your visa stamp. Administrative delays typically last between 2-4 weeks, but some are much longer. How We Can Help VisaNation Law Group’s H-1B visa lawyers have a deep interest in securing the best outcome for their clients. With a thorough knowledge in the H-1B process and countless approvals to date, they're the superior choice to represent you. What's more, they can assist you with responding to any RFEs that come up, scheduling consulate interviews, VAC appointments associated with your H-1B visa stamping and more. Schedule a consultation with VisaNation lawyers today.