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Congratulations, You’re Approved!

Your petition has been approved by USCIS. You’re ready to continue your U.S. journey!

Now What?

Legalpad’s Post-Approval Guide will help you complete your next steps so you can focus on achieving your goals in the U.S. and travel with ease knowing you have everything you need.

Approval Category:

When we filed your visa petition, it was filed under one of four categories. Please select the category that matches your petition. Not sure? Refer to your approval notification email.

Table of contents

Introduction

This guide provides a checklist of what to do post-approval, with detailed step-by-step instructions, visa interview tips,  specific visa stamping considerations during COVID-19, and more!

This guide walks you through what to do if you change your U.S. address, employer, job duties, or work location.

Need an extension or interested in learning about the green card process, this guide has you covered!

Change Of Status

Your petition was approved “Change Of Status”. This means your status will automatically change starting on the requested validity date. No further action is required to activate the status!

Scheduling Your Visa Appointment

Follow the Post-Approval Checklist and Instructions for detailed steps on what to do next!

We'll walk you through how to: complete the I-9; request a social security number; complete the DS-160; and schedule your visa interview appointment.

We'll also provide a detailed list of what to: bring to the visa interview; do once you receive your visa approval; and carry for reentry into the U.S.

Note: Some U.S. Embassies or Consulates are now accepting virtual appointments! What does this mean? You may be asked to send in the requested documentation in lieu of attending your in-person interview. Please contact your U.S. Embassy or Consulate directly for further guidance.

Post-Approval Checklist

 

Step 1: Complete I-9 - For New Employment

  • You will need your valid: 
    • Passport
    • I-94 - A new I-94 is issued every time you enter the U.S.

 

Step 2: Request Social Security Number (SSN) - If No SSN

  • You will need your valid: 
    • Passport
    • I-94

 

Step 3: Complete DS-160 - The Next Time You Travel Abroad

  • Fill out the DS-160 Form for you and each Dependent, next time you travel abroad after the “Change of Status” effective date.
  • Print the confirmation page.   
  • Note: Some U.S. Embassies or Consulates are now accepting virtual appointments! You may be asked to send in the requested documentation in lieu of attending your in-person interview.

 

Step 4: Schedule Visa Appointment and Pay Visa Fees

  • Note: Some U.S. Embassies or Consulates are now accepting virtual appointments! What does this mean? You may be asked to send in the requested documentation in lieu of attending your in-person interview. Please contact your U.S. Embassy or Consulate directly for further guidance.

 

Step 5: Attend Visa Interview

  • Attend the Visa Interview at the U.S. Consulate.
    • Note: Some U.S. Embassies or Consulates are now accepting virtual appointments! You may be asked to send in the requested documentation in lieu of attending your in-person interview.
  • Your Dependents will need to bring:
    • I-797A Approval Notice
    • DS-160 Confirmation Page
    • Application Fee Payment Receipt
    • Valid Passport
    • Two Color, Passport-style Photographs
    • Marriage Certificate (for Spouse)
    • Birth Certificate (for Child)*

 

Step 6: Receive Visa Approval

  • Receive Passport back with Visa Stamp. 

 

Step 7: Carry Documents For Re-entry Into The U.S.

  • You will need to carry your valid: 
    • Passport
    • Visa Stamp
    • I-797A Approval Notice
    • 2-3 Recent Pay Statements from Employer Listed on I-797 Approval Notice 
  • Your Dependents will need to carry their valid: 
    • Passport 
    • Visa Stamp
    • I-797A Approval Notice
    • Marriage Certificate (for Spouse)
    • Birth Certificate (for Child)

 

Step 8: Review I-94

  • View your new I-94 online, once you enter the U.S. and each time you travel internationally and re-enter the U.S. 

Post-Approval Instructions

 

Step 1: Complete I-9 - For New Employment

  • Present your valid Passport and I-94 showing valid status. A new I-94 is issued every time you enter the U.S.
  • Find your most recent I-94 at the bottom of the I-797A Approval Notice. If you’ve traveled abroad after the approval, you can find your latest I-94 on the I-94 - Official Website.

 

Step 2: Request Social Security Number (SSN) - If No SSN

  • Apply for a Social Security Number and Card, if you do not already have one.
  • You will need your valid Passport and I-94 showing valid status to apply.

 

The Next Time You Travel Abroad! 

 

Step 3: Complete DS-160 - The Next Time You Travel Abroad

  • Fill out the DS-160 Form for you and each Dependent, next time you travel abroad after the “Change of Status” effective date.
  • Dependents applying for a visa stamp will need the DS-160 Form. 
  • Print the confirmation page once complete. 
  • Note: Some U.S. Embassies or Consulates are now accepting virtual appointments! You may be asked to send in the requested documentation in lieu of attending your in-person interview.

 

Step 4: Schedule Visa Appointment and Pay Visa Fees

  • Visit the U.S. Embassy or Consulate website where you will be interviewed for country-specific instructions on how to schedule your appointment and pay the required fees.
  • Schedule one visa appointment for the entire family! 
  • Note: Some U.S. Embassies or Consulates are now accepting virtual appointments! What does this mean? You may be asked to send in the requested documentation in lieu of attending your in-person interview. Please contact your U.S. Embassy or Consulate directly for further guidance.

 

Step 5: Attend Visa Interview

  • Visit the U.S. Embassy or Consulate website where you will be interviewed for country-specific directions on how to get there.
    • Note: Some U.S. Embassies or Consulates are now accepting virtual appointments!You may be asked to send in the requested documentation in lieu of attending your in-person interview.
  • Attend the Visa Interview at the U.S. Consulate with all required documents. 
  • You will need to bring your I-797A Approval Notice, DS-160 Confirmation Page, Application Fee Payment Receipt, Valid Passport, Two-Color, Passport-style Photographs, and a Copy of Your Petition.
  • Your Dependents will need to bring their I-797A Approval Notice, DS-160 Confirmation Page, Application Fee Payment Receipt, Valid Passport, Two Color, Passport-style Photographs, Marriage Certificate (for Spouse), and Birth Certificate (for Child)*. 
  • *Children ages 13 and under may not need to appear for visa stamping in person, check directly with your U.S. Embassy or Consulate for details.

 

Step 6: Receive Visa Approval

  • Receive your Passport back with a visa stamp inside, about 3-5 days after your Interview.
  • Your Dependents will have their own visa stamp.

 

Step 7: Carry Documents for Re-entry into the U.S.

  • You will need to carry your valid Passport, Visa Stamp, and I-797A Approval Notice, and 2-3 Recent Pay Statements from Employer Listed on I-797A Approval Notice. 
  • Your Dependents will need to carry valid a Passport, Visa Stamp, I-797A Approval Notice, Marriage Certificate (for Spouse), and Birth Certificate (for Child). 

 

Step 8: Review I-94

  • View your new I-94 online, once you enter the U.S. and each time you travel internationally and re-enter the U.S. 
  • Dependents will have a separate I-94 record. 
  • The I-94 is the controlling document regarding your status.

Visa Information

Visa Reciprocity

The U.S. Government Has Visa Reciprocity Requirements For Visa Applicants From Certain Countries.

 

Based on the applicant’s country of birth, there may be additional fees and restrictions:

  • You may be required to pay a visa reciprocity fee or issuance fee after your visa application is approved. This fee is in addition to the visa application fee or MRV fee. Check out Fees For Visa Services for more information.

 

  • You may seek or apply for an allotted number of entries into the U.S.

 

  • Your visa is only valid for entry during the validity period listed on the visa. The validity of your visa stamp may be different from the validity period on your I-797A Approval Notice. See Visa Vs. Status.

Visa Vs. Status

The Visa Is Just An Entry Document. It Is Not Your Status In The U.S. 

 

If your visa stamp was cut short because of visa reciprocity and ...

  • You need to travel internationally, you can use your existing, valid I-797A Approval Notice to request a new visa stamp. 

 

On the Other Hand...

  • If your visa stamp expires while you are in the U.S., then the next time you travel internationally you should make an appointment at a U.S. Consulate to receive a new visa stamp.

Your Visa Interview

 

Your Visa Interview At The U.S. Consulate:

The purpose of the visa interview is for the Consular Officer to confirm your identity and that you are qualified for the requested visa.

The Consular Officer will ask you questions about your identity, your U.S. job, and your background.

The interview itself will usually last less than 10 minutes.

 

What You Need To Bring To The Visa Interview:

  • Follow the checklist and step-by-step instructions specific to your approval of “Change of Status” - provided in this guide!

Sample Interview Questions

 

Sample Interview Questions The Consular Office May Ask You: 

 

  • What is your name?
  • What is your current employment?
  • What company will you work for in the U.S.?
  • Have you ever been to the U.S. before? If so, when?
  • Where will you be living in the U.S.?
  • Where will you be working in the U.S.?
  • What work will you be doing in the U.S.?
  • How long do you plan on staying in the U.S.?
  • Have you ever been convicted of a crime? If so, what was the crime?
  • Who will travel with you to the U.S.?
  • What is your field of expertise?
  • What makes you extraordinary?

 

This is not an exhaustive list, but it is intended to give you an idea of the types of questions you may be asked.

Tips To Ace Your Interview

 

Tip #1: Prepare an “elevator pitch”. Be ready to articulate what the company does and what you will be doing in the U.S. You should review the petition and be prepared to talk about why you are extraordinary. 

For Example... you founded a startup that raised $X million in venture capital funding, you have been featured in major publications such as X, and received key awards such as X.

 

Tip #2:  Make sure you are familiar with the description of your job duties in the petition. You do not have to recite the job duties word-to-word, but your description should be consistent with the petition.

 

Tip #3: Go into your interview confidently and positively! The Consular Officer is not looking for reasons to reject your visa, but rather just trying to make sure it passes the “smell test.”

 

Tip #4: Answer questions with short answers, but clearly, truthfully, and confidently. The Consular Officer will ask you for more details if they want you to elaborate.

 

Tip #5: Unless you are H-1B or L, you will need to maintain non-immigration intent. What this means is that you must have the intent to depart the U.S. after a temporary stay. 

For Example... if the Consular Officer asks about your long-term plans, it is important to emphasize that you plan to eventually leave the U.S. However, you must answer questions truthfully.

 

Tip #6: In the unlikely event that your visa is not approved, stay calm and pay attention to what the Consular Officer is saying. After you leave, it is almost impossible to get information from the Consulate. 

Ask The Officer...

  • Would you mind explaining the reasoning?
  • What documents were missing?
  • What answers did you find problematic?
  • Could you please provide more clarification?
  • Last resort: Would it be possible for a supervisor to look at the application? A supervisor will likely not change the decision, but may give you more information.
  • Afterward, immediately write down everything the Consular Officer said.

 

Specific Visa Stamping Considerations During Covid-19

 

Visa Stamping During Covid-19 & U.S. Travel Updates:

 

Sign up for our Newsletter! Get visa resources, immigration news, and event announcements delivered right to your inbox. Don't worry, if you change your mind, you can unsubscribe at any time.

 

 

 

Check out our Blog! Travel requirements and restrictions may change at any time. Legalpad will update our blog as new guidance is available.

 

 

 

 

Check with your Local Consulate for the latest information.

Dependent Information

Employment Authorization:

Certain Dependents (Spouse) are eligible for Employment Authorization once they enter the U.S.

 

For Example:

  • If you are in L-1 status, certain L-2 Spouses do not need to apply for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) to work in the U.S. Please contact us for more information.

 

 

  • If you are in O-1 status or TN status, your O-3 and TD Dependents are not eligible for work authorization in the U.S.

 

Refer to our Help Center or contact us for specific Dependent status information & eligibility. 

F-1 & J-1 Student Information

FICA Taxes Exemption

Generally, students in the U.S. in F-1 and J-1 status are exempt from FICA Taxes (Medicare and Social Security Taxes).

However, if you later change status from F-1 or J-1 to a different status, such as O-1 or H-1B, you will then become subject to FICA Taxes.

Your U.S. Employer must begin withholding FICA Taxes from your “Change of Status” effective date.

Checklist & Instructions:

  • You are subject to FICA Taxes because you changed status from F-1 or J-1 to a different status - such as O-1 or H-1B. 
  • Your Employer must begin withholding FICA Taxes from your “Change of Status” effective date - from the day your status begins.

STEM OPT

If you change from F-1 STEM OPT to a different status, such as O-1 or H-1B, you must complete the “Final Evaluation on Student Progress” section of Form I-983 STEM Training Plan.

This section must be signed by both You and your U.S. Employer, and then submitted to your University.

Checklist & Instructions:

  • Both You and your U.S. Employer must sign the form. 
  • Submit the signed form to your University. 

"Changes & Amendments"

Plan On Making Changes?

Please reach out to us before changing your home address, employer, job duties, or work location. A Change of Home Address, Change of Employer, or Amendment filing may be required.

Change Of Home Address

You must notify USCIS if you change your home address.

 

Checklist & Instructions:

  • Within 10 days of the move. This will notify USCIS.

Change Of Employer

Your new employer will need to file a “Change Of Employer” petition on your behalf, if you want to work for a different employer.

Depending on your status category, you may only be able to start work for the new employer once the “Change Of Employer” petition is approved.

 

For Example:

  • If you are in O-1 status, you cannot start for the new employer until after the “Change of Employer” is approved*.
    • *Once the O-1 "Change of Employer" is approved, you do not need to apply for a new O-1 visa stamp if you have already have a valid O-1 visa stamp, even though your employer has changed.

 

  • If you are in H-1B status, you may potentially be able to start for the new employer based on the filing of the “Change of Employer” petition, and may not have to wait until the approval. 

 

Please reach out to us for confirmation of the timeline and impact of changing your employer based on your specific status and situation. Follow the “Change of Employer” Checklist & Instructions.

Checklist & Instructions: 

  • Reach out to us before changing your employer if you want to work for a different employer.
  • File for a “Change of Employer”. Your new employer will need to file a “Change of Employer” petition on your behalf, if you want to work for a different employer.
  • Receive your “Change of Employer” approval.
  • Start working for your new employer. Depending on your status category, you may only be able to start work for the new employer once the “Change of Employer” petition is approved.

Amendment

A “material” change to your role would require an Amendment. If there is a substantial change in your job duties from the duties listed in the petition, or if you change from working full-time to part-time, you may require an Amendment.

Please reach out to us for confirmation of the timeline and impact of filing an Amendment based on your specific status and situation. Follow the Amendment Checklist & Instructions.

Checklist & Instructions: 

  • Reach out to us before changing your job duties or work location. 
  • File for an Amendment if required. A “material” change to your role would require an Amendment.
  • Receive your Amendment approval. You cannot start working in the new role until the Amendment petition is approved. 
  • Start working in the new role, once you have the new approval. Depending on your status category, you may only be able to start work in the new role once the amendment petition is approved.

Extensions

FAQs About Extensions:

 

How Long Is My Status Valid?

  • Check the validity date on your I-797A Approval Notice.

 

How Often Can I Extend My Status? 

 

How Do I Start The Extension Process?

  • Extend your status with us by starting the extension process early!
  • If Legalpad filed your visa petition, we'll reach out to you prior to your status expiring.
  • If Legalpad did not file your visa petition, reach out to us to get started.

 

How Early Can I File?

  • File early - up to 6 months prior to your status expiration!
  • If Legalpad filed your visa petition, we'll reach out to you in advance - long before your visa expires.
  • If Legalpad did not file your visa petition, reach out to us to get started.

Permanent Residency

Direct Path To A U.S. Green Card!

We can help create your path to permanent residency through the green card process.

 

Learn More About How To Get A U.S. Green Card!

 

Immigrant Petitions:

 

 

Green Cards:

 

 

Visit our Help Center.

Contact us for more information. 

Reach out to us to get started today!