Summer Travel Season: Tips for Traveling as a U.S. Visa Holder

June 6, 2024Legal Alerts

Summer Travel Season: Tips for Traveling as a U.S. Visa Holder

Summer is travel season, and whether you are traveling this summer to obtain a visa, or are traveling with a valid visa, there is a lot to keep in mind. From knowing the right documents to carry to making sure to schedule your appointment with enough time in advance, traveling as a nonimmigrant U.S. visa holder can be difficult. Below, we have compiled some tips and guidelines to keep in mind when traveling to avoid issues and ensure smooth travels this season.

Traveling to a Visa Appointment

Traveling to a visa appointment can be an intimidating process. Before traveling to a consulate or embassy, make sure you have completed Form DS-160 Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application, which can be found here. Once you complete the form, you can schedule your appointment through, the official Department of State Visa Appointment Service. Also, be sure to visit the website of the consulate or embassy you will be visiting, in case they have specific rules or regulations around appointments, safety or visa fees.

Once you have scheduled your visit at a United States consulate or embassy, make sure you bring the appropriate documents to your appointment. For example, those seeking an H-1B visa stamp, should bring:

  • your DS-160 confirmation page,
  • visa application fee payment receipt,
  • a printed copy of your appointment letter,
  • at least one passport-style photograph taken within the last six months (some consulates require more),
  • a passport valid for at least 6 months beyond the H-1B petition’s expiration,
  • a photocopy of your I-797 approval notice,
  • photocopy of the underlying petition,
  • any original diplomas or transcripts (translated if necessary),
  • recent earning statements,
  • evidence of legal immigration status,
  • a letter of support from your employer, and
  • a reciprocity fee or land border crossing fee, if required.

This list is typical, but country-specific information on supporting documents and fees can be found here.  Derivative applicants, like the spouses and children of H-1B applicants, should also be sure to bring documents showing their relationship, such as a marriage license or birth certificate. For information about what to bring to appointments for other types of nonimmigrant visas, contact your Dinsmore immigration counsel. 

One of the most important considerations when scheduling a visa appointment is the wait time. Estimated wait times vary widely both by consulate and nonimmigrant visa type. For example, the wait time for a B-1 visa interview at the U.S. Embassy in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam is 22 days, while the wait is 738 days in Istanbul, Turkey. You can check the U.S. Department of State’s website to find the estimated wait times here. We have listed a few of the wait times* for the most popular Consulates and Embassies below**:

  • Chennai, India – 529 Days
  • Lagos, Nigeria – 437 Days
  • Beijing, China – 30 Days
  • Hong Kong – 75 Days
  • Manila, Philippines – 85 Days
  • London, United Kingdom – 110 Days
  • Tel Aviv, Israel – 71 Days
  • New Delhi, India – 163 Days
  • Mumbai, India – 492 Days
  • Buenos Aires, Argentina – 87 Days
  • Sao Paulo, Brazil – 129 Days
  • Mexico City, Mexico – 631 Days
  • Monterrey, Mexico – 456 Days

*All wait times reflected are for a B-1, Business Visitor Visa Appointment where an interview is required.

**Wait times reflected are current as of June 4, 2024.

Traveling with a Valid Visa

Even if you already have a valid passport and a valid visa stamp, there are things to keep in mind when traveling. First, you should ensure that your passport or travel document and visa stamp are not due to lapse or expire while you are outside the U.S. Second, you should carry with you a copy of the approval notice, Form I-797, which serves as the basis for your current immigration status. Third, you should carry two recent pay receipts of proof of ongoing employment with your sponsoring employer, if applicable.  If you are the derivative of a nonimmigrant approval (H-4, L-2, etc.), make sure you have the principal applicant’s documents with you when you travel, since they are the basis for your status. For example, if your spouse has an H-1B approval notice, and you are in H-4 status based on their H-1B status, make sure that you have the approval notice and their most recent I-94 with you when you travel.

Additionally, when you return to the U.S. from foreign travel, U.S. immigration officers may make mistakes on the expiration date listed on your I-94. Your I-94 is your Department of Homeland Security Arrival/Departure Record, and making sure this record is as accurate as possible is crucial for immigration purposes. You can access your most recent I-94 and a record of your departures and arrivals at When you enter the U.S., make sure that the I-94 has been correctly issued, and if there are any issues, contact your U.S. Customs and Border Protection office to correct the mistake or contact your counsel for assistance.

We hope you have smooth travels this summer, and if any problems arise, be sure to reach out to any of our trusted immigration attorneys at Dinsmore & Shohl for help.