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Obtaining an H-1B visa stamp and entering the United States

A non-immigrant U.S. visa is issued as a stamp in your passport by a U.S. embassy or consulate outside the United States. A visa stamp indicates that you are eligible for entry and reentry to the United States in the immigration category indicated (F-1, J-1, H-1B, TN, etc). Below are the steps for obtaining your H-1B visa stamp and entering the U.S.

Review your Form I-797

Carefully review the Form I-797 for accuracy and contact Immigration Services immediately if there are problems. Please note that the spelling of your name and your date of birth must be exactly the same as reflected in your passport.

Schedule your visa interview

To make an appointment at a U.S. Consulate or Embassy, go to the U.S. Department of State’s website. Please keep in mind that it may take a few weeks to schedule an appointment, so you should initiate your visa application as early as possible.

To apply for the H-1B visa stamp, you will need to submit the following documents to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate:

  • Nonimmigrant visa application form(s): Appropriate forms and instructions can be found on the website of the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you will apply for your H-1B visa stamp.
  • Application fee and reciprocity fee (if applicable): Check with the Consulate for the fee amount and how it must be paid or review the information on the U.S. Department of State website.
  • One photograph. Photo specifications.
  • Passport: must be valid at least six months beyond the date you plan to enter the U.S.
  • Original form I-797 Approval Notice.
  • Photocopy of your H-1B application, which includes following information:
    • Form I-129 (H-1B petition to USCIS),
    • Labor Condition Application,
    • Letter from your department stating that you are employed temporarily, your annual salary, dates of employment, and stating, in non-technical terms, what type of research and/or teaching you are doing,
    • Educational credentials (diploma, medical license, etc.),
    • Up-to-date curricular vitae (CV)
    • Waiver of the two-year home residency requirement (if applicable)

If any dependents will be accompanying you to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate for a visa application, we recommend that you also bring proof of the relationship (ie. birth or marriage certificate).

We recommend that you review the information on the Embassy or Consulates website to determine how long the visa process may take and if any additional documents are required.

Travel and Admission to the U.S.

You can schedule your initial H-1B entry to the United States up to 10 days before the start date listed on the Form I-797. Be sure to carry all the documents listed above with you at all times during your travel. During your trip to or upon entry to the United States, you will complete a Form I-94 Arrival/Departure record. Using a pen, print the information requested on this form, making certain to spell your name exactly as it is spelled in your passport and on your Form DS-2019.

When you arrive at the airport or border, present your Form I-797 along with your I-94 card, passport and J-1 visa stamp to the immigration examiner, and request to be admitted in J-1 immigration status.

Canadian Citizens

Candian Citizens are not required to carry a Canadian passport (although it is advisable) unless they are entering the United States from outside the Western Hemisphere, and are never required to obtain a visa stamp from a consular officer. However, they are admitted in a specific immigration status and must present the Form I-797 at the border or port of entry in order to be admitted in H-1B status and be given a Form I-94 with the correct notations. Canadians are typically asked to pay a $7 border-crossing fee related to the Form I-94.

When you initally arrive at UMass Chan

You must report to Immigration Services. Typically, your appointment with Immigration Services will be made prior to your arrival at UMass Chan. If it is not, please contact us upon arrival to arrange a meeting. Please see information about other steps to take upon your arrival at UMass Chan.

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