You must apply for a U.S. Visa Stamp outside the United States at a U.S. Consulate. Since consulates often require an appointment, you may need to schedule one several weeks in advance. Visa processing times vary from days to weeks to even months, depending on the extensiveness of any security check required. Verify consular procedures, paperwork, and fees in advance by visiting the website for the consulate at which you will be applying for the visa. Applying for the visa in your home country is recommended since the U.S. government discourages foreign nationals applying to consulates in third countries. Doing so may result in significant delays in visa issuance.
Family members accompanying you to the U.S. should apply for H-4 dependent visas. Only spouses and children under 21 years of age are eligible for H-4 visas. Proof of relationship to you (marriage and birth certificates) will be required as well as the original H-4 Approval Notice (I-797) if applicable. See Dependents for more information.
Applications for an H-1B Visa Stamp require:
- Original Top Portion of the H-1B Approval Notice (I-797) (This portion must be borrowed and checked out from OIA since it's the employer's and must be kept with your H-1B file)
- Bottom Portion of the H-1B Approval Notice (your portion of the notice)
- H-1B Petition Packet (copy of materials submitted to USCIS given to you from OIA)
- Passport (valid at least 6 months into the future)
- A brief letter from your department stating: you are in H-1B status; your salary (which must be at least the amount listed on the LCA in the H-1B petition); and that you will travel outside the U.S. and the date you are expected to return to work.
- Visa fee
- Passport-sized photograph
- Fees, additional forms and/or documents as required by the consulate at which you will apply.
For more information on getting a U.S. Visa, see Department of State – Visas