How to Check the Status of Your H1B Visa Application

How to Check the Status of Your H1B Visa Application

If you are lucky enough to have your H1B visa application selected in the lottery process, you will then have to wait as your application goes through the various steps of the approval process. You will then be given your own unique 13-digit tracking number, known as the H1B Case Number, which you can use to track your application’s progress.

The wait between selection and your visa’s approval can be a long and anxious one. Each time you check your application using your Case Number you will be given a case status, however, these can be confusing and often lead to applicants asking more questions.

So, in order to put your mind at ease through this process, we have made a list of the most common case statuses and explained their meaning.

H1B Statuses and Their Meanings

The H-1B visa status updates can sometimes be confusing and cause unnecessary panic. To help, take a look below at what your H-1B case status update means.

Case Was Received and a Receipt Notice Was Emailed

This notice is usually sent to your employer or attorney who handles your application on your behalf. You will receive this H-1B visa status if you upgraded your H-1B application to premium processing. What this status means is your application has been selected during the lottery process and your Case Number has been issued.

Case Was Received

This means exactly what it says i.e. that the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has received your case. A hard copy of your receipt notice will be sent to your employer or the attorney who is dealing with the application on your behalf. If you upgraded to premium processing, this receipt notice will be e-mailed to you.

Response to USCIS’ Request for Evidence Was Received

All this means is the USCIS received the necessary documents or information it requested in its Request for Evidence. This also means the USCIS will now start processing your application as all the necessary information has been received.

Case Was Approved

This status is great news! This is the H-1B case status you get if you didn’t upgrade to premium processing and your application has been approved. This indicates a hard copy notice of your approval has been mailed to your employer or the attorney who is dealing with the application on your behalf.

Fee Will Be Refunded

Don’t panic when you see this status. Yes, it is true that fees attached to unsuccessful applications are refunded. Fortunately, this H-1B visa status only means that certain fees are refunded because unnecessary fees were paid by your employer or the attorney who is dealing with the application on your behalf. This does not indicate your application was denied.

If you see this status, it might be a good idea to consult with your employer or the attorney who is dealing with the application on your behalf.

Error: The application Receipt Number Is invalid

This is simple and just means you didn’t enter a valid receipt number. Make sure you enter it correctly. If that doesn’t work make sure you got the right number from your employer or the attorney who is dealing with the application on your behalf.

Request for Additional Evidence Notice Was Mailed

This H-1B case status indicates that a Request for Evidence notice was sent to your employer or the attorney who is dealing with the application on your behalf. This notice requests and outlines additional evidence or information that is required in order to continue with your case.

This notice has an expiry date, so it is very important that the evidence requested is supplied to the USCIS before this date. If the USCIS does not receive a response before this date, your application will not be able to proceed.

Case Was Approved and My Decision Was Emailed

This status is also great news! It means application was approved and a notice indicating this approval has been sent to your employer or the attorney who is dealing with the application on your behalf. This status will only appear if you upgraded to premium processing, however. If you didn’t, then you would only see “Case was Approved”.

Decision Notice Mailed

Unfortunately, this means your application has been rejected. The reasons for your rejection will be contained in the notice sent to your employer or the attorney who is dealing with the application on your behalf. This notice will also provide an option to appeal the decision, should you or your employer want to.

Name Was Updated

This status can be confusing! This probably means there was a clerical error somewhere and a change of name has actually occurred on the system. It can, however, also appear if there is any other activity on your case. This status often leads to a Request for Evidence being sent and could, in some cases, be an indication that your application may be rejected.

If you see this status, it might be a good idea to consult with your employer or the attorney who is dealing with the application on your behalf.

How Do I Check the Status of My H1B Visa?

You can check the status of your H-1B visa application on the USCIS website. The H-1B Visa Status Tracking System is used on the website to determine the status of applications.

In order to check your status, you’ll need your 13-digit receipt number. This is the number starting with LIN, EAC, SRC or WAC (indicating the service center processing your application). You ought to have received this when you filed your H-1B application. If you’re not sure what we are talking about, contact your sponsor, employer or the attorney who is dealing with the application on your behalf to get it.

You can check your status online in 4 easy steps:

  • Go to this website
  • Enter your 13-digit alphanumeric receipt number (don’t use spaces and make sure it is correct)
  • Click on the “Check Status” button
  • You’ll see the information displayed on the screen.

To keep on being updated on the status of your H-1B application, you can sign up for email notifications.

You might also have to fill in your petition and form type, as well as the processing center dealing with your application in order to get your status update.

H1B Status Extensions

Usually, you are only granted an H-1B visa for 6 years. This time period can, however, be extended if you apply with a Form I-140 and your application gets approved or you get back any time spent outside of the U.S. during your H-1B visa.

You can get a one-year extension on your H-1B visa if:

  • It has been a year (i.e. 365 days) since your labor certification filing or your employment based petition
  • You reapply before your labor certification expires
  • You submit an advanced filing

Advanced filing is when you apply for an H-1B extension after 6 years, but 6 months before your new requested start date of your extended H-1B visa.

You can even get an extension of three years if you are successful in an EB-1, EB-2, or EB-3 petition and you submit advances filing.

Frequently Asked Questions

Below are a few Frequently Asked Questions about H-1B visa applications.

Can my spouse and children live in the U.S. if I have H-1B status?

Yes, but only if they get H4 authorization. Note that only your spouse and unmarried children who are minors are allowed to live with you on H4 status. They can also not work while living in the U.S. on an H4 status.

Can I get H-1B status if I’m self-employed?

Unfortunately, your employer has to file your H-1B petition on your behalf. This means you typically can’t be self-employed and receive an H-1B visa.

Do I have to maintain a foreign residence?

With the H-1B visa, you don’t need to maintain a foreign residence. An H-1B visa allows you to seek residency in the U.S. if you meet all the qualification criteria.

What if I have multiple employers?

If you have more than one employer, each employer will have to file an H-1B petition to authorize you to work for them. This applies to both full time and part time employers. Each petition has to be a separate petition. Each employer will also have to approve a Form I-129. You are only allowed to work for an employer once the H-1B visa is filed for that employer.

What if I hold another type of visa?

If you are in the U.S. on another visa, you can switch to an H-1B visa. You can, unfortunately, not do this if you are not in the country. In such a case, you will have to apply for an H-1B visa at the U.S. embassy or consulate. You can apply after the USCIS has approved your employer’s petition in this regard.

Can I file an H-1B for myself?

Unfortunately, only employers are allowed to file H-1B visa petitions.

Are there any restrictions?

Yes. You are not allowed to work as a freelancer, independent contractor or be self-employed if you are on an H-1B visa.

How quickly should I file?

As soon as you can. Preferably at the start of the fiscal year. There are a lot of H-1B visa applications and the USCIS makes use of a lottery system to pick applications randomly.

What are the case statuses of an H-1B visa petition?

  • Case Was Received and a Receipt Notice Was Emailed
  • Case Was Received
  • Response to USCIS’ Request for Evidence Was Received
  • Case Was Approved
  • Fees Will Be Refunded
  • Error: The application Receipt Number Is invalid
  • Request for Additional Evidence Notice Was mailed
  • Case Was Approved and My Decision Was Emailed
  • Decision Notice Mailed
  • Name Was Updated

What if I’m selected in the lottery?

If you are selected, your employer or the attorney who is dealing with the application on your behalf will receive your case receipt number. Once you have this, you can track the status of your application online.

What are the processing steps of the H-1B visa?

The USCIS has articles available at the USCIS adjudication center explaining the processes they use. These processes change from time to time, so if you want an in-depth understanding, checking these articles will be best.

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