Visa Processing and Travel

When do I need a visa stamp in my passport?

Unless you are a Canadian citizen, you will need a visa stamp in your passport to enter the United States.  The visa stamp shows the type of status you are approved for and other types of information that the officers of the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) will consider when deciding to admit you to the United States.

How do I obtain a visa stamp?

You must apply at a U.S. Consulate to obtain a laminated visa stamp in your passport. Please factor this into your travel plans. Visit the website of your preferred U.S. Consulate to learn more about their specific procedures, timelines and to make an appointment.

How do I pick a U.S. Consulate?

If you are applying for your very first visa stamp, you will typically need to apply in your home country.  If you will be processing in a different country, you will need to check with the specific U.S. Consulate as a “Third Country National” (TCN).  Not all consulates will do so.

What documents do I need?

Generally, the original H-1B Approval Notice and supporting documents will suffice.  However, some U.S. Consulates may request additional information or documentation. When you make your appointment, please check with them directly.

How long will it take?

It depends on the visa type and the Consulates queue.  Delays are likeliest in the summer, when lines are longest.  Please check with your U.S. Consulate directly.

Do I need to get a visa stamp if I remain in the United States after changing visa status?

No, a valid visa stamp is only required when you request entry to the United States after traveling abroad.

Can I travel abroad while my H-1B visa application is pending?

No, if you travel abroad while a petition for change of status to H-1B is pending you have relinquished the change of status portion of the petition.

What do I need to do after I enter the United States on my new visa stamp?

  1. Print out your I-94 Entry Information from the Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) website.  Keep the printout for your records.  It is a good idea to make this a habit each time you enter the United States, and carefully scrutinize the “Admit Until” date on the I-94 entry record to make sure it matches, at minimum, to the date on your I-797 Approval Notice.  Also, check it against the entry stamp in your passport.  Forward a copy to Risk Management.

Please forward copies of your new visa stamp and I-94 information to