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US visas: When to apply

February 21, 2006

You have got a job in the US. In order to leave, though, you need an H-1B visa ie work visa.

When must you apply for it?

US visa expert Dr Arun Vakil, in a live chat with Get Ahead readers on February 9, said: "USCIS (US Citizenship and Immigration Services) will accept H-1B visa applications from April 1, 2006, and start issuing from October 1, 2006. You should keep all papers ready and apply on April 1 as the earliest date."

Dr Arun Vakil has an MBA from the University of California, USA, and a PhD from the University of Wyoming, USA. He is an expert on US visa regulations. He was associated with the US consulate in Mumbai as an economist from 1974 to 1977.

He conducts orientation courses for students going to the US; these courses are organised by the United States Education Foundation in India and the Indo-American Society. He also lectures on US visas and immigration laws.

Dr Vakil wrote the book Gateway To America, in 1984.

For those of you who missed the chat, here is the transcript:

Part I: US student visa -- when to apply

kmurli: Dear Dr Vakil,My son has been admitted to the Masters in the field of Bio Medical Engineering last fall and he is currently in the second sem at NJIT. I have a few questions:-1. How good is this course and how good are the job prospects in this field both in abroad and in India.2. He was given the visa only for the duration of the course. Can he extend and as I have been going through your articles, can he get into one year praftical experience and get his visa extended.As I have invested substantial amount appreciate to hearing from you.Kind regards,k murli

Dr Arun Vakil: Bio-medical engineering is a good field. He can certainly get one year practical training after getting a Master's degree. Later, an employer can file for his H1-B visa.

sandeepbb: Hello, Can I book the date on an I-20 and change the I-20 details later if I get a better university

Dr Arun Vakil: Yes, you can book on current I-20. At the time of the interview, tell the visa officer about the other I-20 and in your preference for it and request that to be considered. If the visa officer is convinced, he will allow you.

dhruva: please tell me about HIB visa and all about?Right now i am working as a QC in US based buying house but in days to come i want to go there and work in the same or similar organisation?

Dr Arun Vakil: H1-B visa means you have a certain specialty in your profession that is demanded by a prospective US employer who will petition for you in the US.

It is quota bound ie 65,000 H1-B visas are issued per year. The next quota opens on October 1, 2006. Visit and join this group to look for jobs there.

rickybhk: Mr Vakil I am curruntly Employed in Hong Kong I have got some good Job offers from the US in the pAst But just refused them just because of the hassle ... i do not maintain any tax doucments in India .. i have a very lucrative offer right now advise how to go about it ..

Dr Arun Vakil: Please consult a professional to advise you further. Contact me on

shailesh135: could u pls tell me about training visa for limited 1 to 2 months

Dr Arun Vakil: This could be exchange visitor visa in the 'J' category where an institution in the US makes an understanding with you for a specific training period. You can also go on training on a B-1 business visa, provided you are not going to earn there.

t_sundaresan: Dear Dr.Arun,PLs answer my questionI am having a visa for the USA which is expiring in August 2005. I plan to visist USA for sight seeing in the month of October 2005.Am not sure whether the embassy will give me the visa again to visit in OCtober. Is there any way i can know well before August whether i will be given the visa,so that i can visit USA at least by August

Dr Arun Vakil: You can apply for a fresh appointment for your visa in the next three to four weeks and ask for a fresh visitor visa. At the interview, you will have to give good reason why you did not use the earlier visa.

Ranjan: Hello Arun sir, im having my H4 visa appointment date on 17th of march. Tell me do i need to get my husband's name andorsed in my passport?

Dr Arun Vakil: Endorsement of your husband's name in your passport is desirable but not compulsory. Try to do this at Passport Office ASAP.

However, take all data regarding your marriage, cerrtificate of marriage, photos of marriage ceremonies and any other evidence to show marital relationship. These are asked to establish genuine relationship between husband and wife and to ensure that the marriage is not fake.

Mydhili: Hi..I applied for H1B Visa and came for interview to US Consolate in last January.They raised query on the company to which i am going and asked to take a fresh appointment.I asked the company to give those papers, but they didnot get back to me.Will it be a problem if some other company processes my H1B Visa.I have perfect educational and work experience.

Dr Arun Vakil: No problem. Make sure the other company has the right documents.

smk: My wife has H1b. I am planning to travel to US on a business visit for 3 months on B1 and I would like my wife to accompany me. Is it possible to take her along on H1b? Or should I apply B1 for her. In which case will her H1b be cancelled?

Dr Arun Vakil: Your wife can travel on an H-1B visa at any time, but the officer at the entry point will ask about her employment in the US. H-1B is a good visa, preferred to B-1 and should not be disturbed if you have that.

dj: hi, myself and my wife both of us r applying for MS/ MBA program in the US and for the same universities. could u pls tell how can v improve our prospects of getting student visa (both myself and my wife)would going together (myself and my wife)for student visa have nay effect on our getting/not getting visa? in that case which is preferrable ( going on the same day or different days)

Dr Arun Vakil: You can go on the same day for visa interview for both, provided you have I-20 for each one of you with support documents.

Ajays: Recently I went to US embassy for L1 Blanket interview but my application was rejected the officer said that i have applied for wrong visa and should apply for L1 individual,but now i have decided to file for H1B i have three years of experience would my prev L1B rejection cause trouble in getting H1B

Dr Arun Vakil: If you have right documents for H-1B, you need to convince that there was no error on your part regarding L-1. However let some professional advise you.

anilamte: Vakilsir ,Do I have to return to India after my H1B expires or renew from US itself for longer duration?

Dr Arun Vakil: H-1B is extendable upto six years. Thereafter, you have to change to another category or return.


Dr Arun Vakil: Employers are supposed to pay the visa processing fees for employees. However, to oblige job-seekers, some employers ask for reimbursement of fees after reaching the US which is entirely a private matter and decision between two parties. Any time is a good time for a job if you get a good job in terms of salary and position.

tiger: I was previously a student in US , finished my undergraduate and retuned to India. Now I plan to go to US for a MS in Fall. I have bank accounts and money invested in the US. Should I show the funds in US or transfer them to my Indian bank when I go for interview?

Dr Arun Vakil: You can show your Indian and American funds so long as they are legally held.

srinununna: what are the regulations for tourist visa

Dr Arun Vakil: I have done an article on
tourist visas for Please visit the careers section on Get Ahead for details. Also visit my Web site and read Gateway To America

Jones: Hi Mr. Vakil Need to know when can an individual apply for a Visitor VISA after getting reected twice.

Dr Arun Vakil: Any time, but you should go with strong reasons and with new evidence and circumstances.

naveen1: Hello , I need this info pls guide me,In case a university waves off GRE is it mandatory for VISA purpose

Dr Arun Vakil: GRE is not mandatory for a visa but, normally, entrance tests are important indicators for visa applicants.

Mans: Hi Dr Vakil, I have an question on H1B Visa, My present company(INDIA) processed my H1B visa. So if i change the company in india then H1B visa will valid or not?

Dr Arun Vakil: You need new H-1B for a new company.

michael: Can you just tell me how much time does it take to process a FIANCEE VISA :(

Dr Arun Vakil : 
Depends on the location of spouse in the US. Normally four to eight months.

Nagendra: Dr Vakil, Could you please tell me when is the right time to apply for H1B in 2006.

Dr Arun Vakil: USCIS will accept H-1B visa applications from April 1, 2006, and start issuing from October 1, 2006. You should keep all your papers ready and apply on April 1 as the earliest date.

kaal: What is the Difference between L1-B Visa and B1 visa

Dr Arun Vakil: L-1B is an intracompany transfer for an executive. It means you are transferred from a Indian company to a US company.

B-1 is your business visa to the US. In the first case, one can work in the US and earn income. In second case, it is limited in period and one cannot earn income on it.

Ashok: Usually how long it will take to process B1

Dr Arun Vakil: Processing is done the same day you are interviewed. However, there is a waiting time for visa appointments.

pvm4: hai this is ram i had compleated my adavanced diploma in london and planning to apply for h1 visa from UK .is ti complasary to attend visa in india ,and what r the chances to get visa

Dr Arun Vakil: You can try at the US consulate, London, if you have stayed there for more than six months. Mostly, it should work. But, in some cases, the visa officer may ask you to go to India for application.

arunla: Please answer if possible. I have a 10 year B1 visa stamped on a passport that got damaged (lamination of passport popped out otherwise passport is intact). I got a new passport issued and the old passport has been stamped "damaged and cancelled" by the passport authorities. Is the visa on the old cancelled passport still valid? If i travel to the US, should i take both passports?

Dr Arun Vakil: Yes, take both passports. If you have time, you may visit VFS in your city and ask for an explanation.

hh: My student visa got reject. Now I am doing a job, will there be a problem if I try for H1B visa. Harish

Dr Arun Vakil: No problem. Go ahead.

Dr Arun Vakil: Friends, time is out. I will end here. Contact me on or for further questions.

Part I
: US student visa -- when to apply


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Read what others have to say:

Number of User Comments: 3

Sub: New H1 B Information

Dear Sir, I want to apply H1B visa. Where and how to apply, please give the details. Regards RAjendran

Posted by Rajendran

Sub: b1-visa

Hello sir, 1.Me and my wife got H1-visa for 10 years in aug-2001. I alraedy visited it in same year my unable of health problem. ...

Posted by Salem

Sub: b1-visa

Hello sir, 1.Me and my wife got H1-visa for 10 years in aug-2001. I alraedy visited it in same year my unable of health problem. ...

Posted by Salem


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