H1B Visa Stamping Experiences & What to Expect

Updated on April 29, 2024

After your H-1B visa is approved and you travel to your home country, you have to get your passport stamped. You can also get it stamped from another country at a US Consulate or Embassy. Just know that after the visa is approved, you can’t use that approval letter to return until you have a visa stamp on your passport.

But what exactly does the H1B visa stamping process entail?

You have to obtain documentation from your sponsor, submit paperwork, find a time slot, schedule an interview (if needed), drop off your passport, and track stamping/return.

In this article should guide you in everything that you should know about the H1B visa stamping.

At a Glance

  • The H1B visa stamping process is a crucial step, involving steps such as filling out the DS-160 form, paying fees, scheduling interviews, and providing necessary documents.
  • Process details vary by country but generally include biometric data collection, interviews, and passport pickup.
  • Success in the process is enhanced by arriving early, dressing appropriately, and following specific guidelines for documents and belongings.
  • The overall duration ranges from 1 to 4 weeks, depending on demand and location, with countries like India, Canada, and Mexico having specific procedures and consulate options.

Here’s a recent example of a recent H-1B applicant who got their visa stamped in Jan 2024:

In essence, the stamping visa process requires that you go through the following steps, in order:

Get a Photo

The photo for your H1B visa must meet several requirements. It must be square – with dimensions that are minimum 600 x 600 pixels and a maximum 1200 x 1200. You must also provide it in color, in a JPEG format. Make sure that the photo size should not be bigger than 1200 pixels.

Form DS-160 for H1B Visa Application

You may only complete Form DS-160 online, provided by the Department of State. Upon completing the form, you will receive a 10-digit barcode that will act as your confirmation. Write down the code, as you will need it for your interview.

Quick tip: Match the name on your passport and the DS-160 form. If you changed your name after marriage, you should bring your marriage certificate to prove it.

Pay the Fees and Schedule the Appointment

Your also have to pay fees for your H-1B. After you have paid everything, you will have two interviews to schedule: one at the Offsite Facilitation Center, and one at the embassy or consulate. Make sure that you do not forget about the fingerprints.

Bear in mind that the VAC (Visa Application Center) requires that you schedule your appointment at least two days before you set the interview with the embassy or consulate. You will also have to provide some biometrics and associated fees.

There were a few complaints that you cannot use PayPal or overseas credit cards to make your payments – which might be inconvenient.

Go to the Interview

After that, you will go to the consulate for the interview.

Bring the following H1B visa documents with you:

  • Your current as well as expired passports
  • A picture featuring the correct dimensions mentioned earlier
  • A print of the DS-160 Visa Application confirmation page that also shows the VAC stamp
  • The Visa application receipt
  • The appointment letter
  • The documents related to your petition
  • Any supplementary documents that you might need.

For your H1B visa stamping process to be completed successfully, you will have to pass the interview.

Most users say that you should arrive about 15 minutes before the time of your appointment at VAC, mostly because you will have to be scanned and checked through your documents. This process usually lasts somewhere around 10 to 15 minutes – and you also do not have a waiting area.

The interview location doesn’t allow mobile phones. The same goes for smartwatches, wallets, car keys that have remote locking or pretty much any electronic device. If you can’t leave them at home, at least leave them with the person that has accompanied you to the consulate. You may also opt for the locker area.

Need help with your H-1B visa?

The H-1B visa process is complex, but it doesn’t have to be difficult. If you’re struggling to understand all of the moving parts, let Stilt help. Our team of H-1B visa experts can help you make sense of all the eligibility requirements, documents, and the application process.

H1B Stamping by Country

With each country, the visa stamping process is fairly much the same. However, to make things easier for you, here is what you should expect from the stamping process in each country.

H1B Stamping India

To get your H1B stamping in India, you will have to fill in the DS-160 form, and then schedule your H1B interview at India’s US embassy. You may go for any US embassy that you want, but it is advised that you choose the one that is closest to the place where you live.

Once the form has been filled and the fees for the visa interview are paid, you will have to go to the US visa OFC center, where you will have your digital photograph taken, as well as your fingerprints. Once that is done, you may go to the US embassy for your scheduled interview. The entire processing time may take from 1 to 4 weeks, depending on the demand.

H1B Stamping Canada

The visa stamping process is not very different in Canada as compared to other countries. You may choose any consulate across Canada – including the ones in Montreal, Quebec City, Ottawa, Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary and Halifax. To make the process easier for you, you may want to go for the one that is closest to your place of residence.

Bear in mind that if you are also bringing your spouse and children to the visa interview, you will need additional documents for them. The documents may be applied from your place of residence – and if everything goes smoothly, you should be getting your stamping process finished in one week.

H1B Stamping Mexico

Due to its geographical proximity to the United States, many people prefer to go to Mexico in order to apply for or renew their H1B visa. The available consulates are found in Ciudad Juarez, Matamoros, Nuevo Laredo, Nogales, and Tijuana. Collectively, these US consulates are referred to as border posts.

Bear in mind that the visa stamping process here usually takes three days – provided there aren’t any delays. You will need one for fingerprinting, one for going to your interview – and one to pick up your passport.

Need help with your H-1B visa?

The H-1B visa process is complex, but it doesn’t have to be difficult. If you’re struggling to understand all of the moving parts, let Stilt help. Our team of H-1B visa experts can help you make sense of all the eligibility requirements, documents, and the application process.

Read More

Final Thoughts

In some countries, the process may be smooth – whereas, in others, it may take more than a couple of days. What’s important is that you follow the process step-by-step and that you prepare all the necessary documents. That way, you should be able to easily get your H1B visa. To help your process, even more, you may want to get an H1B visa guide.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

1. What Is H1B Visa Stamping?

H1B visa stamping is the process of obtaining a visa stamp in your passport that allows you to enter the United States to work in a specific job or role as an H1B visa holder. It is typically required for individuals who are outside the U.S. and plan to work in the country on an H1B visa.

2. What Documents Are Required for H1B Visa Stamping?

The specific documents required for H1B visa stamping can vary, but typically include:

  • A valid Passport.
  • Form DS-160 confirmation receipt.
  • The original Form I-797, Notice of Approval.
  • The LCA (Labor Condition Application) approval notice.
  • A recent passport-sized photograph.
  • Visa application fee receipt.
  • Proof of payment of the SEVIS fee (if applicable).
  • Any prior or current H1B approval notices.
  • Educational and employment documents.

It’s essential to check with the U.S. consulate or embassy where you will attend your visa interview for their specific requirements.

3. What Happens During the H1B Visa Interview?

During the H1B visa interview, a consular officer will ask you questions to determine your eligibility for the visa. Questions may include details about your job, employer, educational background, and your intention to work in the U.S. Be prepared to provide clear and truthful answers.

4. What Are Common Reasons for H1B Visa Denials?

Common reasons for H1B visa denials can include:

  • Insufficient documentation.
  • Inaccurate or incomplete information provided during the interview.
  • Employer-related issues, such as the employer not meeting the requirements.
  • Questions about the bona fide nature of the job offer.
  • The consular officer’s discretion.

5. How Long Does H1B Visa Stamping Take?

The processing time for H1B visa stamping can vary depending on the U.S. consulate or embassy’s workload and policies. It is advisable to apply for your visa well in advance of your intended travel date, as processing times can sometimes be unpredictable.

6. Can I Bring Dependents (Spouse and Children) with Me on an H1B Visa?

Yes, H1B visa holders can typically bring their dependents (spouse and unmarried children under 21) to the U.S. on H4 dependent visas. Your dependents can apply for H4 visas, which allow them to live in the U.S. while you work on your H1B visa.

7. How Can I Prepare for the H1B Visa Stamping Interview?

To prepare for the H1B visa stamping interview, consider the following:

  • Review all required documents and ensure they are up to date.
  • Be familiar with your job, employer, and the terms of your H1B employment.
  • Practice answering potential interview questions.
  • Dress professionally and arrive at the consulate or embassy on time.

Remember that each visa interview may be unique, and it’s essential to be honest and well-prepared.

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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.

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