Law Office of Leila Freijy PLLC
Immigration & Compliance Law 
Traveling to India?  Schedule your U.S. visa appointment early!
  
If you are planning a trip to India before the end of this year and will need to apply for a new visa stamp in your passport while you are abroad, please be advised that the U.S. Consulates in India are very backlogged in scheduling visa appointments.  In fact, in many cases, the earliest visa appointments available are three (3) months from now. 

If you do not have a valid U.S. visa stamp in your passport and you plan to travel to India in the near future, you should schedule your visa appointment in India as soon as possible.

Some tips:
  1. If you have a valid visa stamp in your passport but it is from a prior employer (e.g. you have an H-1B visa stamp for ABC company, but you are now in H-1B status for XYZ company), you may continue to use the existing visa until it expires; however, you must also present the original I-797 Approval Notice for your current employer when you return to the U.S.  This is so the Customs & Border Protection (CBP) officer knows that you are working for a different company, and this should result in your new I-94 being issued until the expiration date of your current I-797 petition.  So, in this situation, you will not need to apply for a new visa.
     
  2. If you have a valid visa stamp in your old or expired passport, but have since obtained a new passport, there is no need for you to obtain a new visa stamp in your new passport.  You may continue to use the valid visa in the old passport (including for the situation described in No. 1, above), but must also present your new passport so that your new I-94 is not limited by the old passport expiration date.  So, in this situation, you will travel with both your passports and present them both to the CBP officer when you return to the U.S.
     
  3. If you currently have an extension petition pending with the USCIS and you have a valid visa stamp in your passport (including the situations described in Nos. 1 and 2, above) and you plan to return to the U.S. before your current visa stamp expires, there is no need for you to apply for a new visa stamp in your passport.  Note that this tip only applies to extension petitions - not petitions for a "change of status" (e.g. F-1 to H-1B).  When a change of status has been requested, you cannot travel internationally in most cases.
     
  4. If you currently have an extension petition pending with the USCIS but do not have a valid visa stamp in your passport, you can still schedule your visa appointment using the Receipt Number for the pending petition.  However, the extension will need to be approved before you leave the U.S., which may mean converting the pending petition to Premium Processing.  If you will be scheduling a visa appointment based on a pending petition and/or if you need to convert your pending petition to Premium Processing, please contact Meagan at my office (meagan@freijylaw.com).
     
  5. To schedule your visa appointment with one of the U.S. Consulates in India, and for more information on the visa process, please visit the official web site of the U.S. Consulate at which you intend to apply.  You can find this at http://www.usembassy.gov/sca.html. You will also be able to access the DS-160 and obtain information on paying visa fees. 
     
  6. Check to see if you are eligible for the interview waiver program (Drop Box) that is available in India for some applicants.
     
  7. When you return to the U.S., be sure to print and review the new I-94s for you and each of your family members to make sure they were issued correctly.  You will need to do this from www.cbp.gov/I94.  You will need to have the passports with you.   Feel free to email copies to us at meagan@freijylaw.com so we can check them.
     
  8. If your passport expires earlier than the I-797 Approval Notice, the I-94 will only be issued until the passport expiration date.  Many countries only permit passports to be renewed within 6-12 mo. of the date that they expire, so if your passport expires in 14 mo., there may be nothing that you can do about it now. 
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If you have any questions or concerns about the information provided in this email, please don't hesitate to contact me.

 

Sincerely,

 


Leila Freijy
Law Office of Leila Freijy PLLC