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Applying for a visa:

In order to apply for your H-1B visa (and H-4 dependent visas) you will need to schedule a visa appointment at a U.S. Consulate or Embassy (it is recommend that you apply for a visa in your home country, if possible.)  At your appointment, present the documents included in this packet. You should visit the U.S. Department of State’s website in order to see if the consulate you are visiting requires any additional information.  Please note that the Consulate is required to verify your H-1B approval in their database (“PIMS”) and that this process normally takes 24 to 48 hours.  Once the visa is granted and stamped in your passport you are ready to make travel arrangements to the United States.

Canadian citizens only: Please note: you do not need an H-1B visa, but you must still present documents included in this packet to the officer at the U.S. border or pre-flight inspection station.  In order to enter the United States, you must have a passport identifying you as a Canadian citizen.  Also, be sure that the officer stamps your passport indicating H-1B status.

Preparing for life in Chicago:

The “Life in Chicago” section of the OIS website has a variety of information to help you prepare for your arrival in Chicago.  Information includes: climate, currency, public transportation, housing, and other topics.  You may also want to visit the main UIC website’s “Living” and “Visiting” links at

Arrival at the U.S. port-of-entry:

  • Arrival date:  YOU MAY ONLY ENTER THE U.S. UP TO 10 DAYS BEFORE THE START DATE ON YOUR H-1B I-797 APPROVAL NOTICE. An immigration officer at the Port of Entry may refuse you admission if you arrive before this time.
  • Inspection at the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol: Upon arrival you must present your passport and Form I-797 to the immigration officer.  The officer may ask you for additional information: for example, a letter of offer from your academic department.  Please make sure that the passport is stamped “H-1B” and that the end date corresponds with your I-797. (If you are entering with H-4 dependents, please make sure their passports are stamped “H-4” not “H-1B.”) You may print the I-94 information for you and your dependents online. (Please review the information so that it shows the correct status and end date).
  • Note about I-94 ending date: please be aware that the immigration officer may or may not add an additional 10 days to the end date of your stay.  This is a discretionary and unofficial “grace period” that some officers provide.  You may not request that the officer give these 10 days to you.
  • USVISIT: Also known as, “U.S. Visitor and Immigration Status Indication Technology” system.  This is a “check-in” mechanism that records the entry of all foreign visitors to

U.S.  The USVISIT stations will scan your fingerprints and take your photograph.  This information will be checked against national security and law enforcement databases.

Check-in at OIS:

In order to begin your employment at UIC, you will need to visit OIS.  Your department contact should make an appointment for you to meet with an OIS advisor for your personal check-in meeting.  Please bring:

  • Immigration documents: passport, I-797, and I-94
  • Your current, complete, U.S. address information, even if it is a temporary address.

Other considerations:

Delayed entry: If your visa is delayed at the consulate, or if there are other unforeseen occurrences which will prevent you from beginning your employment on time, please relay that information to your UIC department contact.

Dependents: A dependent is a spouse or child under the age of 21 years.  Dependents are considered “H-4s.”  Your H-4s will not need a separate I-797 approval notice if they are accompanying you to the U.S.  Please note: it is possible to have your dependents join you in the U.S. at a later time.