What Are My Options for Change of Status Visa Stamping If I Am Already in America?

Updated on January 4, 2024

At a Glance

  • For H1B visa stamping, individuals with temporary visas like F1, L1, or H4 can choose neighboring countries like Canada or the Bahamas.
  • Mexico is no longer an option for first-time H1B visa stamping.
  • Canada may have restrictions based on educational background, while the Bahamas allows first-time H1B visa stamping without such limitations.
  • Returning to the home country is a comfortable option for visa stamping to avoid risks and navigate the process familiarly.

If you are currently in the United States and looking to change your visa status, you may be required to leave the country to have your visa stamped at a foreign consulate.

In this article, we look at some of the options available to you and try to help you get your visa stamped with as little hassle, and air miles, as possible.

What are my options?

If you are already in possession of an F1, L1, H4, or any other temporary visa and you have been successful with an application for an H1B visa (including the H1B visa stamping), you will need to have your visa stamped if you wish to leave and re-enter the country at any time while your visa is valid.

If you do not wish to leave the country, you will be able to continue to work and request a Change of Status without having to leave the country to have your visa stamped.

In order to have this stamping done with as little hassle as possible, you may choose to have your visa stamped in the consulate of a neighboring country such as Canada or the Bahamas.

Check out Stilt’s new H1B database to find an H1B sponsor in your profession or city!

Can I have my visa stamped in Mexico?

No. You can not go to Mexico for a Change of Status or to have a first-time H1B visa stamped. In the past, this was an option, but currently, only visa renewals can be done in Mexico.

Can I have my first H1B visa stamped in Canada?

There is an option to have your first H1B visa stamped in Canada. However, they do reserve the right to refuse to stamp visas in the Canadian consulate.

If your education has been predominantly done in your home country, or any country apart from the U.S. or Canada, they may not stamp your visa.

This mainly affects people who are looking for a Change of Status from an L1 or H4 visa to an H1B visa. If you are in this category, it is probably a good idea to go elsewhere to have your visa stamped.

H1B visa stamping in Canada for Indian citizens

If you are an Indian citizen, you can go to Canada for your H1B visa stamping.

As noted above, Canada may reject your H1B stamping request if your education has predominantly done in your home country or any country that isn’t the U.S. or Canada.

Can I have my first H1B visa stamped in the Bahamas?

Yes. There are no similar restrictions in the Bahamas as there are in Mexico or Canada. You will also need a visa to enter the Bahamas and you should contact the embassy to make arrangements before you go.

What’s the most comfortable solution for getting your first H1B visa stamped?

While there are a number of options available to people looking to change the status of their visa, there is quite a lot of red tape and risk involved with the process. If it is an option, we suggest that you return to your home country for a Change of Status or first-time H1B visa stamping. This completely eliminates any potential risk and will allow you to have your visa stamped, and complete the accompanying interview, in a familiar and comfortable setting. It will also give you the opportunity to visit the country of your birth and possibly visit friends and family.

Have you had a Change of Status or had a first-time H1B visa stamped in any of the places mentioned above? Do you have any advice for someone who is in a similar position? Let us know your thoughts in our comments section.

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Frank Gogol

I’m a firm believer that information is the key to financial freedom. On the Stilt Blog, I write about the complex topics — like finance, immigration, and technology — to help immigrants make the most of their lives in the U.S. Our content and brand have been featured in Forbes, TechCrunch, VentureBeat, and more.