H1B Visa Stamping Experience

H1B Visa Process and Stamping

When it comes to the H1B visa stamping experience, the process can be quite cumbersome, however, it is a mandatory step without which you will not receive visa approval or travel to the United States. It is the final and the most important stage of the visa application process, the H1B visa stamping experience is a hell of a ride. 

H1B visa stamping process in India:

Once you have experienced different stages of the H1B visa interview experience, you can reach the H1B visa stamping stage, here are few steps that you need to follow: 

  1. Submitting a photo: There are several things that you need to take into consideration to meet all the criteria while submitting a photo. It has to be a colored photo and a square one, the size of the photo must not exceed 240 kilobytes and dimensions must be a minimum of 600 X 600 pixels. The maximum that it can be is 1200 X 1200 pixels and should be submitted in a JPEG format.
  2. Filling out the DS-160 form for the H1B visa and submitting it online: You can access this form by clicking on the US Department of State Consular Electronic Application Center website. Once you finish this form you will receive a 10-digit barcode which you will have to save for future use. It is something that is required when attending the interview.
  3. Payment completion for the application and arrange an appointment for the visa interview: The DS-160 application form asks you to pay a price. After that is finished arranging two interviews is the primary objective that needs to be accomplished.

    The first interview you schedule needs to be for your biometrics, the second one must be for your visa interview. It would behoove you to finalize your OFC interview before your Visa Interview. Finishing your biometrics gives you extra points when you do go for the Visa Interview. Choose an embassy that is closer to your home to avoid scheduling conflicts and delays.
  4. Visa Interview: Be sure to go for the interview on time and check all the documents you need to carry. You will need:
  • All your passports (both old and new)
  • The DS-160 form confirmation page with Visa Application Center (VAC) stamp on it.
  • Your photograph as per the specifications.
  • Receipt of your visa application.
  • All the documents related to the petition.
  • Appointment letter.
  • Your H1B approval notice (I-797 form)
  • Your employment verification letter.
  • H1B classification form. 
  • Labor Condition Application for H1B and H1B1 
  • Pay-slips for the last three months (in case you were working on H1B earlier).
  • Your Bank statements for the last three months.
  • Any other supplementary documents.

This link will provide details on what documents you will need during the H1B visa stamping experience process

The visa interview may take just about 5-10 minutes, the procedure may take a little longer. You will be subject to a security check, fingerprint verification, and then stand in a queue. Remember that all your personal belongings will have to be left outside, so make some arrangements to keep them outside before you go into the room.

When you are asked questions during the interview, please ensure that you are answering them with utmost caution and truthfulness. Any variation in your answer can lead to the rejection of your visa. 

Different situations you may face during the H1B visa stamping experience :

H1B visa interview rejections:

You might face rejections on your path to achieving the H1B Visa and during the H1B Visa stamping experiences. There are several factors that can cause rejection, it could be because a particular document isn’t available or some other form of information that the attending.

Here are some of the experiences from different people that may help you out:

  1. ‘Person A’ visited India for stamping his H1B for the fourth time. He had shared all the required documents in Dropbox as needed, waited for the status update, and got a “refused status”. After receiving his unstamped passport and form 221g from the consulate. He emailed the consulate to confirm if he needs to still attend his H1B visa interview and got a confirmation from them. 

    On the day of the interview, he carried all the possible documents so that there is no further glitch. He was asked during the interview if he had an emergency appointment letter to which he informed the officer about the 221g form and handed it over to him. After some further queries, the visa officer sent his documents to another window and asked this person A to go to that window for further instructions.

    On approaching the window with his documents and passport he was asked to fill up a DS-5535 form which he got via email later from the consulate that afternoon. Now, before leaving he had requested the officer to keep his passport and documents in the consulate so that when he is called to the embassy again he doesn’t have to undergo the document submission process again. 

    Once he submitted the DS-5535 application form, filled and completed with all the genuine information, he received the status ‘Issued’ after about 10 days which means his renewal application was approved. He received a stamped passport from the embassy. 
  2. In another situation, Person B got a rejection from the consular stating Fraud and Misinterpretation under 212 (a)(6) and unlawfully present under 212 (a)(9). This person unknowingly went for H1 visa stamping for a project for which an H1 visa was denied already for someone else by the embassy. Also, the employer did not pay this person for the projects she has done.

    This is one of the situations where you need to be very careful in choosing your employer or consultancy and see if they genuinely have projects and are authentic. To verify the background of an employer you can go to online forums and see if there are any reviews, or talk to someone who has already worked with them before.

For more personal experiences you can click here

Now, let’s understand quickly the H1B Visa stamping process and what you would need to undergo during this process. 

H1B application process:

The first and foremost thing you need to know is that an H1B visa needs to be applied through your employer. Your company has to first file a petition on your behalf with the US Department of Homeland Security after which you need to apply for a visa. Here are few steps that are critical to this process:

  • Submission of documents to your employer: You need to make certain you have all the necessary paperwork in place, so start working on them beforehand. The paperwork that you require when you file H1B are your resume, PDF copy of your passport having the bio page and the address page merged together, academic mark sheets and educational certificates, offer letter from your employer, and pay stubs from your other employers (if any), documents on previous H1B petitions, a letter from the manager of the company.
  • Once you have submitted all the documents you need to wait for the H1B lottery. 
  • If you are chosen by the USCIS in the lottery, you will have to wait for the petition approval which may take about 3 months to 1 year.
  • Fill out the DS-160 visa application form for H1B. 
  • H1B visa stamping: You can go for a visa stamping within 90 days, in lieu of the approval notice arriving before you begin your work in the US, however, you need to be patient here and understand that, sometimes even though your petition to work in the US is for a year, you might get a visa for 6 months. 
  • Visit a Visa Application Center (VAC) to give your biometrics for the H1B visa. 
  • Schedule an appointment for the visa interview.

Although this is not an official website, you can click here if you want to know more details related to the H1B application process. 

What is a US Visa Dropbox? Who is eligible for this?

US visa dropbox, also known as the ‘Interview Waiver program’ is for those who are looking to re-up on their Visa and is not intended for first-time travelers. This means that you can just advance your application and other related paperwork without going to the visa interview and get a visa stamping. You must fall under these eligibility criteria to be able to use the US visa dropbox or the Interview Waiver Program:

  • You fall under the same visa classification as your p[revious one.
  • You have a valid passport and have your visa with you.
  • You are using the same name as the prior one. In case your name has changed you will need to fill a DS-160 form and update it there.
  • You have received your most recent visa on or after you have completed 14 years of age.
  • You received your most recent visa in your home country. 
  • You’re not applying for a replacement visa in case it was stolen, misplaced, or damaged.

The various categories of people who also qualify for the US visa Dropbox are:

  • Elderly people who are above 80 years  
  • Children below 7 years and whose parents have a valid visa in the same category as theirs and they are also applying for the visa at the same time as the child.

The different types of forms that you may come across during the H1B Visa Application process:

There are few forms that you may come across during the H1B visa application and stamping process. Let’s get a quick overview of those forms:

  1. DS-160: DS-160 is the non-immigrant visa application form that needs to be filled and submitted online. To know more details about DS-160 you can refer to this article which gives a detailed overview of DS-160 and its requirements. 
  2. I-797: I-797 is the ‘Notice of action’ form used by the USCIS to communicate with the applicants about the various details related to their petitions.

    This is sent to the applicants as a confirmation of receipt of their application or petition. This form has a 13 digits receipt number that appears on the top-left corner and starts with 3 alphabets. The form also has details like case type, petitioner name, beneficiary name, notice type, receipt date, etc. the I 797 form is of different types depending on different scenarios
    • Form I-797A  is a replacement for the I-94 form.
    • Form I-797B is used as a petition for alien workers.
    • Form I-797C is for important information
    • Form I-797D if for benefits card
    • Form I-797E is a request for evidence
    • Form I-797F if for a travel permit.

      If you want the details about these forms, please visit this site that will give you substantial information about the purpose of these forms. 
  3. Form 221G: This form is handed to the applicant by the Consular as an interim refusal of the visa until the candidate provides them with the documents or information that have been asked for. On the off chance that you have gotten this form, don’t get disheartened, at this point, your application hasn’t been rejected yet. It simply means that the visa officers require more information may be needed to convince the visa officers of certain information that you have provided to them or additional administrative processes needed.

    Once you provide them with the requested paperwork and the verification of those documents is done, you might get approval on the visa. There are several different reasons why the visa you applied for has been provisionally turned down, which are denoted by different colors like blue form, white form, pink for, and yellow form. 

    To know more details about Form 221G and what are the different courses of action needed to be taken please visit this website.  
  4. DS-5535: DS-5535 is a form issued by the department of state as an additional measure of security check. It contains additional queries for visa applicants. This form needs information and details about your foreign trips, your employment history, details about your relatives (living or deceased), your social media presence, employment history from the last 15 years.

    Once this information is submitted it will take 60 days or longer for the checks to have been duly processed. The embassy usually sends the DS-5535 via email if you receive a form 221g and need to include or have left any new info. You can also access this form by clicking here

Now once you have completed the H1B application process, you will definitely be anxious about the status of your application. 

Here are few sites where you can track your H1B visas statuses:

  1. You can visit the US Consular Electronic Application Center by clicking here. 
    • When you click on this link you will be directed to a page showing visa status check.
    • You need to choose and enter the visa application type from the drop-down.
    • Enter your case number.
    • Enter the captcha code as given.
    • Click on “Submit”. You will be able to see your status updates now.
  2. Here’s another tracking website that you can visit to track your visa status.
    • When you click on the above link you will be directed to the page where you have the option to choose a visa category.
    • Click on the ‘Non-immigrant’ tab.
    • You will see a page that shows as below. Click on the Step 6 (Track your passport) option to track your visa status.

Conclusion

To conclude H1B Visa Stamping Experience (Thank God! that was definitely a long one), however, if you are going forward with one one, make sure to follow the steps diligently keeping an eye on every detail to have hassle-free approval of your visa.

Frequently Asked Question (faqs)

When can I enter the US with my H1B visa?

You can enter the US 10 days prior to the date of the joining of your new work. 

Can my H1B Visa stamping get rejected by the Embassy?

Yes, the US Embassy can reject your H1B Visa stamping for several reasons. However, you do not have to panic. Sometimes they can be temporarily rejected and upon furnishing the required documents, you may get approval as well. Please read the stamping experiences in this article to know when the visa can be rejected.

Can I re-apply for my H1B visa stamping process if it gets rejected?

If your visa gets rejected you will not be allowed to enter the US. So, yes, you can re-apply for it. Visa can be rejected for reasons like problems with fee processing, or missing documents, or need additional information, etc. Be sure to provide all the necessary information diligently.

What should I answer if the visa officer asks me something which I am not sure of?

If you do not know the answer just say ‘I don’t know’. You will have to answer every question with honesty so do not lie to him as this may make things complicated. 

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