H1B Visa Stamping

H-1B Visa Stamping

H-1B Visa stamping requires the foreign professional to have had their petition approved. Once the petition has been approved it is time to schedule an H1B visa interview. Scheduling the interview may be conducted at the closest U.S. consulate or embassy. The H-1B Visa Stamping process should be implemented in the following order:

H-1B Visa Stamping Process:

  1. Retrieve a photo. The H-1B visa photo must meet specific requirements.
    1. It must be a square photo
    2. Dimensions: Minimum of 600 pixels by 600 pixels, maximum of 1200 pixels by 1200 pixels.
    3. It is required to be in color
    4. It must be saved in JPEG format
    5.  The size of the photo cannot be more than 240 kilobytes.
  2. H-1B Visa Application Form DS-160
    1. Form DS-160 can only be completed online at the Department of State.
    2. A 10-digit bar code will appear on the confirmation form. Be sure to print the confirmation form and save for future use. This will be necessary for the scheduled interview.
  3. Complete application payment and schedule the appointment. After paying the required fees, the foreign professional must schedule two appointments. One will be with the Offsite Facilitation Center and the other will be with the consulate or embassy. Don’t forget your fingerprints. The Visa Application Center (VAC) obligates the foreign professional to schedule an appointment a minimum of two days before the scheduled interview with the consulate/embassy. The Visa Application Center requires the foreign professional to provide biometrics information.
    1. There is a fee associated with the H-1B application. This fee can be processed electronically.
    2. To secure payment approval, create a user profile with the U.S. Visa Service website. Select ‘Schedule Appointment.’ A payment confirmation page should appear. This page will allow the applicant to select the best-fitted payment information for the individual. The payment is only valid for a year, so it is important to schedule the appointment within that time.
  4. The Interview. Go to the indicated consulate for the interview. All the following documents must be presented:
    1. Current and expired passports
    2. Photo (Dimensions are provided above)
    3. DS-160 Visa Application confirmation page with VAC stamp.
    4. Visa application receipt
    5. Petition related documents
    6. Appointment Letter
    7. Any supplementary documentation.

Common H-1B Visa Stamping Questions:

Q: What is the maximum amount of time I can stay in the United States with the H1B Visa?

A: The H-1B visa typically has a maximum validity period of 6 years. It is initially valid for three years, depending on the contract between the foreign professional and the employer. However, after the first three years, the foreign professional may obtain an additional 3 years if he or she is granted an H-1B visa extension.

Once the foreign professional has reached 6 years, there is another opportunity for extension through form I-140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker. The total possible length of stay also depends on if the foreign professional had left the United States during the validity of the H-1B visa.

Finally, if you spent a considerable amount of time outside the U.S. during your H-1B stay, you may be able to recapture that time spent abroad by requesting it from the USCIS when you file your extension.

Q: My employer is petitioning for my H-1B visa, but I was previously a dependent on the H-4 Visa. Does the time spent on the H-4 transfer to the time allotted on the new H-1B visa?

A: No, because they are two different subcategories of visas. The H-4 will have no effect on the time given for the new H-1B visa.

Q: I had an H-1B petition approved in the past, but I did not go through the process of H-1B visa stamping. Is my H-1B still legitimate?

A: For the H-1B visa petition to still be valid, the I-797 and job offer must remain current. The H-1B petition may be discontinued by the expiration of the I-797. The employer also has the option to submit a request to withdraw your petition which would result in having your visa revoked.

Q: My employer just told me that I am going to be laid off. Is there a grace period for me?

A: The short answer is: yes. In the past, no grace period existed for H-1B holders who suddenly found themselves without a job. They would need to leave the country and go through the H-1B stamping process all over again.

Now, with the new Final Rule in place, a 60-day grace period extends out from the moment that you stop working for your sponsoring employer. This grace period is given so that H-1B holders can find a new job, transfer their status to another visa class (such as an L1 visa) or make preparations to leave the country.

Q: Can My H4 Spouse Work in the US?

A: Yes. As of the new rule released by the Department of Homeland Security in 2015, H-1B spouses and dependents on H-4 status are able to apply for Employment Authorization Documents if they are eligible and if you, the principle holder, have an approved I-140 immigrant petition with the USCIS.

However, your spouse or dependent’s H-4 status is only valid as long as your status is valid. Also, if your I-140 is revoked, your H-4 spouse or dependent will not be able to renew his or her EAD.

Q: Is It Better To Change My Status or Use Consular Processing for H-1B Stamping?

A: The answer to this question depends on your current status. If you are in the U.S. under a different nonimmigrant status, then it is usually preferable and cheaper to simply have your status adjusted to H-1B at the start of your employment. However, if you are currently outside the U.S., then you will have to travel to a U.S. consulate or embassy to obtain your H-1B visa.

However, if you are currently outside the U.S., then you will have to travel to a U.S. consulate or embassy to obtain your H-1B visa.

Q: Can Premium Processing Help My Case?

A: Usually, premium processing is a service that only speeds up the time it takes for the USCIS to process your I-129 petition. It does not increase your chances of being selected in the lottery nor does it make you cap-exempt. It also does not guarantee that your visa will be approved in the H-1B visa stamping process.

There are times, however, when the USCIS will suspend premium processing to give preference to long-neglected petitions. This is true for all H-1B petitions during the 2017-2018 season.

How Our Immigration Lawyers Can Help:

Our H-1B visa lawyers can advise you on filing Form DS-160 and taking the necessary steps in completing your H1B visa stamping process. We can assist you with scheduling consulate interviews and VAC appointments associated with the H1B visa stamping.

Our H-1B visa lawyers are knowledgeable in the supplementary documentation required to ensure the best outcome in your H-1B stamping case. If you need to contact one of our attorneys, you can fill out this simple form to see if you qualify for a free phone consultation today.