Singapore H1B1 Tips

much of the original piece below is outdated. this is my remaining 2023 updates for fellow singaporeans.

May 2024 edit: Prices to pay are now here - everything went up with inflation. payment is now done via VFS Cash or Debit (To pay your nonimmigrant visa (NIV) application fee in Cash/NETS payment at VFS branch( VFS Global,79 Anson Road, 15-02, Singapore 079906), this deposit slip and Virtual Account Number must be used before the expiration date, as noted above.) or Electronic Fund Transfer (Log on to your Singapore bank account and enter the following beneficiary details in your online banking form to complete your EFT in Singapore dollars (SGD). (DO NOT PAY IN US Dollars) - Beneficiary Name: VFS Singapore - Beneficiary Bank: DBS - Account Number: Your 19-digit Receipt Number- Amount: xxx.00 SGD (Singapore dollars Only).) . I just went for Electronic Fund Transfer but it took an extra 24 hours for me because changing a phone number and adding a new payee on my bank took 12 hrs each. Once money is wired it takes an extra business day + 3pm for the UStraveldocs system to register that the MRV receipt has been paid so that it proceeds to allow you to schedule an interview.

You should also take note of the appointment website as the primary rate limiter of how quickly you can get your interview, because the appointments are usually 2-3 weeks out (unless you get lucky and snag a cancelled slot, or get granted an emergency appointment for ESTA denial reasons) and you can get your LCA/B1 visa approved in that time if you have stuff lined up well.

If you have problem scheduling for an appointment, you may call our customer service helpline at 3158-5400 or email for assistance.

For O1 visas you just need your receipt number - which you get a few days after your lawyer mails the petition in). If you still have your DS-160 application ID and want to fill it again you can just supply your old ID and it will import previous settings.


Past 2024 I am no longer likely to continue updating this post for H1B1s, so please seek out other singaporeans who carry the torch, or please write an updated cleaned up version of this post and add it to my comments:

also if you’re REALLY in a rush you can travel to a different country to get your embassy appointment - i havent done this personally but yes singapore’s embassy wait is usually 2-3 weeks and there are countries with 1-2 days. check this list to see which allow third country nationals. Ones known to work: Barbados, London, Lisbon, various Canada offices


sidenote: passport renewal

here is a question i wanted to submit to /r/asksingapore but couldnt because reddit is broken.

How exactly to expedite a Singapore passport renewal with ICA?

Hi folks! just asking for more information than provided in the last thread on this from 2023, and (as far as I can tell) the outdated stuff from 2022.

I’m in a situation where I really need to very urgently travel to the US with my new visa for my work in the next 2 weeks, and they are refusing to stamp my visa because my current passport “has water damage” (I can quibble with it bc they have accepted this level of “damage” before, but ultimately I have to make them happy). So I need to renew my passport as soon as humanly possible in the system.

The standard ICA guide says “around one to two weeks” for the new passport - that is far too slow and completely crisis mode for my business. I know its my responsibility for getting myself into this situation but given we’re here I’m just asking what I can do.

I know that the expediting is based on showing evidence of urgent business travel, which I can do. So am just posting to see what the community has got for specific questions:

  1. Has anyone managed to get an expedited passport renewal in the past year? What was the end to end timing like? Some people here say 2hrs, some say 2 days. What is the length from first applying to renew the passport (online? in person?) to receiving new passport?
  2. to get the expedited process, should I: a. apply online first, then show up in person and beg some officer, b. no need to apply online, just show up in person and apply and beg, c. apply online, email ICA_APPLES_Administrator, and hope they approve without showing up in person?

Lastly, any other advice you’d like to share with fellow Singaporeans that need to go thru this process as fast as possible? THANK YOU so much!

update from swyx

so the answer is this is the strict process:

  1. report damaged passport online (1 day wait they mention isnt strictly needed)
  2. have proof of urgent travel need. often with booked plane tickets, or with me, conference speaking invite letter. they grant expedited passport based on T-2 or -3 days to the travel need
  3. go to ICA, fill out PAPER application that they hand you. will need passport size photo - which you can get from a shop near ICA for $6 (they can give u the address or ofc you find one yourself)
  4. based on my travle need. i got a 4 day promise of passport - went into ICA monday, did all the above, then they promised i get it friday. lets see.

stick around to listen to the other pple in the ICA queue and understand that EVERYONE has seen this misleading “2hr turnaround expedited passport process” post and is asking for it. its misleading. they are swamped and we are lucky that they assign according to need.


Aug 2019 edit: I don’t know the exact date I wrote this but it was originally on /r/sg about 1yr ago. Please also read this blogpost from /u/omakaselife! for 2019 tips

April 2020 edit: added some screenshots to assist future readers and reformatted for more readability

May 2022 edit: the Singpost payment process has been deprecated, see for the updated one

Hello. I noticed this thread and realized theres not much content on here relating to the H1B1. I have done it 2 times and am about to get my 3rd (2024: 4 times). I am not a lawyer, I’m just a fellow Singaporean who has had a few jobs in the US. So I may not have all the answers but just wanted to put up a post in case pple have questions on the process and maybe others who know more can chip in.

pre 2020 Application Tips

  • First your lawyers will need to petition for an LCA for you (local condition of application). Depending on lawyer this can take between 2 weeks to 2 months. Once you have it you can get your DS160 (2024 UPDATE: I believe you can actually parallel track this LCA and the DS160 - just make sure you definitely have your LCA approved by the time of your embassy appointment)
  • Once you have your DS160 filled out (it looks intimidating but can be finished in 1-2hrs) - google the link to make the DS160. you will get a reference number that looks like AA00A16T01
old pre 2022 payment process that was very sketchy but is now fully electronic

Image from iOS

  • Once you have DS160 and your MRV paid (and wait for 1 day for your payment to hit their system), you book your US embassy appointment here:
old pre 2022 bug that was very frustrating but is now gone
  • IMPORTANT: at the bottom of the main booking form they ask u for a Petitioner’s name, receipt number, start date and expiration date. this is an oudated field that is no longer in use, so fill in whatever for name/start/expiration date. for receipt number it ONLY accepts a “dummy receipt number” that is “ABC0000000000”. this is straight up what the support center will say. if you try to fill in what is a COMMON SENSE thing which is the MRV receipt number you will get an error saying “Petition Receipt Number: Format is incorrect. Please enter the receipt number without dashes (-)“. Which is not even making sense. i fucking lost 4 days to this piece of shit because i forgot what i did last time. i hope this helps someone else because i kena this before and this time around i kena again. mfw.


  • only THEN will you need to enter in the MRV receipt number for USD 190 - its the long autogenerated number (starting with 8 at the time of posting, eg 85019872042295) that you get from receipt. You have to give it ~1 day since you paid before it is recognized in the system or else you get an error: No valid record can be found for the entered receipt number. Please validate that your receipt number is correct and that you have paid the correct amount for the visa which you are applying for. Here is the screen where you enter in the receipt number you paid for.


Other questions

some things that have mattered to me:

  • What education do you need? I have a masters and bachelor’s from the US. cant speak to any other educational background
  • Do I need a Big Law Firm? No. my first time i was with a big company which hired a big law firm to do things for me. my other two times were very much “DIY”.
  • Do I need a Big Company sponsor? No. I worked in a 20 person, 2 yr old startup in the US and they got an LCA for me while I got a lawyer for about 2.5k through upwork which i paid for. it is a myth that you need to be an established company to sponsor a h1b1.
  • Do I need a shit ton of paperwork? No. if you are working with a big firm that outsources this stuff to a law company they typically have you prepare a whooole bunch of supporting documents to have in original and duplicate before you show up to the embassy. this is of course nice to have but i have never once needed it in an interview. so it really is not the end of the world if you dont have it
  • Should I use the “Drop Box option”?
    • in 2019 choosing the supposedly faster “drop box” option delayed my processing by a week because they rejected me from the drop box without stating a reason and asked me to come in for an interview after.
    • in 2022 it worked for me. 05/23 i got a waiver confirmation and i was in the country by 05/31.
    • (update) in 2024 it failed hard. they rejected me from drop box due to water damage on passport, a requirement they waived in person, and the next interview available was a month later.
  • How long does it take? Maybe about 3-4 weeks. 1 week if you are super lucky. Schedule those interviews early if you want to leave asap!! availabilities can be two weeks out. and then it takes them a week or so to mail ur passport to the phillipines and then back to you. meanwhile you’ll know if its been approved so you can go ahead and firm up your travel dates by then.
  • What about the pay/cost of living? (not strictly h1b1 related) paying US taxes and social security and all that really cuts into the salary. I’m in new york so theres state and city tax too. the number may look higher than what ur getting elsewhere but the taxes come accordingly. do your math.

Tagged in: #reflections

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