Visas and International Travel
Applying for a U.S. Visa Stamp
All international employees, and their accompanying family members, are required to obtain a U.S. visa stamp issued by a United States embassy or consulate in their passport in order to enter the United States.* Please see the U.S. State Department Website for details. Prior to applying for a U.S. visa stamp, international employees and their dependent family members must have the necessary sponsorship documents provided by HRM, in order to apply for the visa stamp (Form I-797 for H-1B & O-1 applicants). A visa stamp in your passport issued by a U.S. consulate/embassy determines when, how often, and in what immigration (visa) category you can enter the U.S. But it does not determine how long you can stay in the United States once you have entered. Your length of stay in the U.S. is determined by your immigration status (shown on your I-94 record) and your immigration documents (Form I-797). You can only obtain a visa stamp at a U.S. consulate abroad. Visas are not issued in the U.S.
*Canadian Citizens are exempt from U.S. visa requirements and do not need to obtain a U.S. visa stamp for entry to the U.S. However, Canadian citizens still must obtain the relevant sponsorship documents provided by HRM at KU (Form I-797 for H-1B & O-1 applicants).
Visa Application Process
- Submit the DS-160 Nonimmigrant Visa Application online
- If you have questions about how to complete the DS-160 application please see the FAQ.
- Pay the nonimmigrant visa application fee
- Make an appointment to interview for the visa at the nearest U.S. Consulate or Embassy.
- Bring the following documents to your interview:
- Passport (valid at least 6 months into the future)
- Relevant immigration documents:
- H-1B Applicants: Form I-797 Notice of Action (H-1B Approval Notice), Copy of LCA
- O-1 Applicants: Form I-797 (O-1 Approval Notice) Notice of Action
- TN Applicants: TN Letter, Copy of your degree and credential evaluation
- Copy of your KU offer letter (for initial applicants who have not yet begun KU employment)
- Copy of your recent KU paychecks downloaded from hr.ku.edu (for current KU employees)
- Visa application confirmation Page
- Visa application fee payment receipt
- Any documents that the consulate has required
Visa Appointment Wait Times and Delays
Visa appointment wait times vary significantly depending on the country of application and the time of year (the Christmas holiday season and summer months can be busy times of year). For an estimate of current processing times at your local U.S. Consulate, please see the U.S. State Department website. We strongly encourage applicants to apply as early as possible.
For some visa applicants additional security checks may need to be performed prior to a visa being issued. These security checks are often referred to as “Administrative Processing.” These checks are done for a variety of different reasons including country of citizenship or field of study/research. It is important to understand that additional administrative processing is not a visa denial; it is a delay. Most processing will be completed within 60 days. Once this “Administrative Processing” has been initiated by the U.S. Consulate, it cannot be stopped until it has been completed in Washington, D.C. and no inquiries may be made on your behalf until 60 days have passed from the initiation of the processing. For additional information please see the U.S. State Department webpage on Administrative Processing
Expired Visa Stamp
Individuals in H-1B, O-1, TN status and their dependents are not required to depart the U.S. once the visa stamp in your passport expires. Your length of legal stay in the U.S. is not determined by the expiration date on the visa stamp. However, if your U.S. visa stamp in your passport has expired and you travel outside the U.S., you must obtain a new visa before you return (with the exception of those eligible to use Automatic Revalidation). It is not possible to renew a visa stamp from inside the United States.
Arrival to the U.S.
Upon entering the U.S. your arrival is recorded in an electronic database. This database contains your electronic Form I-94. You should access and print this I-94 immediately upon arrival to the U.S. To access this record, visit: Arrival/Departure Forms: I-94. The I-94 is a very important documents and is proof of your legal status in the U.S. It also governs your length of stay in the U.S. If there are any discrepancies between your I-94 and other immigration documents (including end date) or if you cannot find your I-94 record electronically, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org immediately so that we can work with CBP to resolve the issue.
I-94 End Date
Employees in H-1B, O-1, or TN status and their dependent family members will receive a specific end date on the “Admit Until” date field on the I-94 record. This end date is your I-94 expiration date and the expiration of your status in the U.S. If there is a discrepancy between the end date listed on the I-94 record and the end date on the I-797 Approval Notice, please contact HRM immediately. If your passport expires prior to the end date of your I-797, your I-94 could be truncated upon arrival to the U.S. to match the expiration date of your passport rather than the I-797 Approval Notice. If this happens you must contact HRM as soon as possible as this is now the end date of your legal stay in the U.S.
Automatic Revalidation for H-1B Employees
Some individuals are eligible to travel to Canada or Mexico for less than 30 days and return to the U.S. even if they have an expired U.S. visa stamp. Under the "automatic extension of validity at ports-of-entry" provision, also known as "automatic revalidation," an H-1B nonimmigrant may reenter the U.S. after a trip solely to Canada or Mexico that lasted no more than 30 days, without the need to obtain a new H-1B visa, even if the individual's prior H-1B visa has expired. 22 CFR 41.112(d). For more detailed information please see the Department of State website.
You may not use automatic revalidation if one or more of the following situations exists (this is not a complete listing):
- Applied for a new U.S. visa which has not yet been issued;
- Applied for a new U.S. visa and were denied;
- Have been outside of the U.S. for more than 30 days;
- Traveled to a country other than Canada or Mexico during your trip
- Are a national of a country that the U.S. government has deemed a State Sponsor of Terrorism designated country, including Iran, Syria, and Sudan