My friend recently got his H1B visa stamped in Chennai, India. He was kind enough to take time and articulate every step of the visa stamping experience in an intriguing way. Thanks to him for sharing his wonderful H1B visa stamping experience. As most of you, who got H1B petition approved in 2010, might be going for visa stamping, this experience will help you with process. Please share your H1B visa stamping experience with our readers as well. It will help others get a perspective. Send your experience to email redbus2us(at)gmail.com
I flew from Bangalore on the 7.00AM flight to Chennai .I had an option to go to Chennai or Hyderabad but I choose Chennai as I had been there twice before for F1 and H1 stamping.
The day started with nice breakfast on the Kingfisher airlines. As soon as I got off the plane I went to book the pre-paid taxi and found 2 more guys trying to do the same. I just introduced myself and asked them whether I could share the ride . I was thinking I can calm my nerves talking to the fellow guys. They gladly agreed and we quickly went ahead and booked one car and boarded it outside. The driver spoke very little English and we had to resort to hand signals and utterances. We kind of had the time as our appointments were scheduled around 9:15 AM. We finally arrived at the Anna Salai flyover US consulate office.
I should say that everyone knows it has US VISA OFFICE or US PASSPORT OFFICE and would recommend anyone asking address to ask for the same and not consulate!
There was a quack outside roaming who generously offered help . I was trying to find a place to get some final bank statement printout as I had forgotten to get them. He started saying that he knows the only place which is open at that time but I knew from other people’s experiences there was one just across the street and I need to cross the underground bridge. The printouts came with out much drama. It was 9.00AM and I had a problem to deposit my cellphone and key chains which the consulate would not allow inside . There is a small cart left to the visa office where they seem to offer this new service for a nominal price. I just deposited all my valuables including my iPAD and went inside.
The Consulate :
There is signup place where I needed to show my appointment letter and passport. They validated and let me go inside the door on the left. The people inside were courteous enough and I proceeded quickly to the first check where they were checking for all electronics/cellphone that I might have sneaked in. They also got a x-ray scan going on my documents , which I should say were many. They validated the DS-160 and let me in. I quickly went in and went the documents verification/arrangement counter. The person was least interested in people around and looked like been doing the job for a while . He quickly arranged all the documents in an order and gave back the stuff that was not needed . Then he asked for the new photograph of mine , for some reason I knew the photo I had uploaded would not make the cut and had it ready. I gave my photograph which he stapled on ds-160 and said next ! They were herding people like cattle occasionally shouting as some people were confused and wandered around . I knew I had to get to the other building and took off to the next building on the right . It was quick and easy as I got through 2 more strong doors and went in .
The Nerve Wrecker :
Then came the final act , they were dividing people based on the visa category ! I had to stand in the H1B counter. There were other counters for parents, visitors people who needed language assistance . Counter 2 person was rejecting all business visa’s but he was asking all valid questions like “Why do you need to go when you can interact with the people from here ?” and I heard someone saying “I might be doing some technical work also !” , for sure his visa was rejected . I proceeded with caution on my counter . There were some rejections in my counter also but it was because the guy got nervous and started repeating lot of things and not answering the question at all ! I was doing my best to hold my thoughts which were ranging from “I should have gone to Canada or Hyderabad to I should have just stayed longer in US than coming back for stamping “. My agonizing wait was ended as the person who had been rejecting lot of B1’s was done with one more rejection. I said to myself this is it I don’t care I get it or not but I’m going to put my best effort . I walked towards his window but looked like he was sweating and wanted to use air himself near a lone fan in the corner. Well this was pleasant surprise but gave me a good opportunity to jump to the next counter where the lady was issuing more visa’s than handing out rejections.
I went close to the counter and smiled broadly and wished her “Good morning”.
She wished me back “Morning !” and I asked ” How are you doing today ?” .
She said “Good ! How about you?” I said ” Fine, Thank you!” .
She asked for my folder and I gave all the documents which she quickly went over and asked “Where do you work ?” .
I answered that and the next question followed “What do you do ?” . I took up this opportunity to explain my work in detail in pretty layman terms.
She looked satisfied and asked for the offer letter which I gave and she asked that “So you are joining after you go back?” and I said “Exactly !” .
At this moment she said “Congratulations, you have been granted visa! I see that you want it sent to Bangalore , so expect it with in few working days!” . I thanked her and left .
The exit :
I was out by 9.50AM and I had to wait for my new acquaintances to show up .I collected my valuables from the cart guy. Meanwhile the new friends came out and I came to know that one got in and the other one got a query to submit more documents. We shared our stories and called the taxi and went back to airport . I had booked the 6.30 flight which I had to change quickly to the 12.00PM flight by paying a small extra charge. We flew back and I went from airport to home only to find that I was speeding 100 on the 80 km ring road . I some how managed to get off with a small fine and TX DL !
It was quite an experience which lasted few hours but I thoroughly enjoyed it . I would recommend everyone who would wish to visit India and get stamped . Just know that the officers and quite reasonable and ask questions which are always in the context.
10 Tips – Key Learnings :
I hope my experience would help others to plan their things out well
- – Always double check and get all documents before hand – A checklist would be handy and will make it a no brainier.
- – It’s fine to carry cell phone but just know you have to deposit outside or even better go with a relative.
- – It’s much more organized now than it was 5 years back !
- – The guys inside the consulate are friendly and doing their job best
- – Every case different so do your best with home work
- – Don’t ramble and arrive at the point quickly as the officer’s have less than 10 mins to say yah or nah !
- – Practicing/getting familiar with the general set of questions/answers might help
- – They have a new AC area for waiting for which they would charge a minimal fees and I think is worth the price if you have to wait a bit
- – Never panic ! understand the dynamics of the interviewer and try to adjust , so always give yourself some time to study the interviewer while you are standing in the queue
- – Smiling and being courteous always helps!