Applying for an H1B visa is an arduous task and has become even more complex due to the recent tightening of visa regulations. It requires a lot of formalities to be completed and forms to be filled meticulously. As a result, the visa approval rate for Indians has plummeted in the last few years, with the number of H1B visas issued for initial employment dipping 4% in fiscal 2017.
But, if you are among the lucky few selected for the H1B visa and your petition has been approved, it is only normal to wonder what to do next. The simple answer is to get your visa stamped on your passport. To help you through the process, here is the complete procedure for H1B visa stamping in India.
Step 1: Check Case Status Info
You must have received the petition number and the receipt notice from your company in your email. Alternatively, it is possible that a scanned copy of the receipt notice may have been sent to you. Use the receipt number to check the H1B Case Status and meaning on the USCIS website. The status should read, “Case Was Received and A Receipt Notice Was Emailed.” This means that USCIS will send a copy of the approval notice to your employer.
Step 2: Get the Approval Notice from Your Employer
After receiving the approval notice from the USCIS, your company will forward it to you. You should bring this notice along when you go to the consular office for visa stamping. In case you applied for a Change of Status, the approval notice will have an updated Form I-94, which contains the details of status change.
Step 3: Schedule a Visa Stamping Appointment at the US Consulate
According to the USCIS, you can apply for visa stamping up to 90 days before the H1B petition start date. This facility is provided, since there is always a mad rush for booking slots at various consulates. Also, there are times when people get the 221(g)-query, which demands additional documents.
To apply for visa stamping, fill the DS-160 form, pay the visa fee and choose your desired US embassy. It is recommended to choose one that is closest to your place of residence.
Step 4: Visit the OFC Center
After filling the DS-160 form, paying the fee and selecting the consulate, you need to go to an Offsite Facilitation Center. Here your fingerprints and a digital photograph will be taken.
Step 5: Attend the Visa Interview
Now, you are ready to visit the US embassy for your visa interview. You will need to carry the following documents to the interview:
- Copy of the DS-160 form
- All current and expired passports (original)
- Visa interview confirmation letter
- H1B approval notice (original)
- Copy of H1B application
- Copy of H1B LCA
- Verification letter from US employer
- Pay slips of the last three months
- Education degrees (school, graduation and post-graduation, if applicable)
- Form I-20, if you possess any US educational degrees
- EAD or OPT card (if applicable)
After the submission of documents during the visa interview, it can take up to 4 weeks to receive your stamped passport. The processing time can vary for different cases, so plan your US travel accordingly.