As I previously shared about my frustrations of filling DS-160 form for H1B visa stamping and how to avoid them…I would like continue to share some of my insights from my H1B visa stamping experience, including the visa interview.
I was going for H1B visa renewal stamping (5th year on H1B visa). My H1B extension was filed for internal project…I have moved to our different development center in January of 2011 and had a new LCA for that location. It was a sunny day, my visa interview was scheduled in Morning.
H1B visa stamping Interview 2011 – Chennai, India :
I was directed by an old guy to stand in a line for visa interview…I stood in the line observing and listening to answers given my others in adjacent line… The Visa Officer (VO) lady, white lady in late 20s, in next line was asking a H1B visa stamping guy, why do they need you there ? Can you work from Home ? .NET is a very common one, they can find someone there ? , etc…. Anyways, my turn came and I went to the visa counter Here is how my visa interview went : my VO was an African-American Lady in early 30s or late 20s
Me : Hi ! How are you doing ?
VO : No response. ( was surprised by her response, Americans in general are very friendly and greet you back or they greet you first…)
Me : How as your day ? Smiling …
VO :No response…(she gave no reaction and looked at me like what the hell dude? I realized that she does not want to talk to me, may be she does not like me….may be she is going to create trouble )
VO : So, why did you change your school from XXX to XXX ?
Me : Well, because I got scholarship and also it is a better school. ( I thought to myself, why the heck is she asking about stuff from 2004, which has nothing to do with my H1B visa ?)
VO : Can I look at LCA ?
Me : Showed the same Old one and New one.
VO : Can I have a look at I-129 filed by your employer ?
Me : Grabbed it and showed it to her…
VO : Can I have a look at the Original letter to USCIS for H1B extension ?
Me : I was looking at the pile of papers and could not find it right away. I said I need some time, I will look for it…I said, I came to India on emergency and do not have everything organized…
VO : Sir, you can sit and look and come back when you find it.(showing signs of irritation)
Me : Thanks
I went to the seating area and looked for the letter and took it to her.
VO : Do you have I-140 approval ? ( I-140 is related to Green card process)
Me : No. ( I am with current company for around 4 years )
VO : So, Who do you work with ?
Me : I work with few of our clients like XX, XX, XX ( in fact, that’s my role, we work with our prospective clients on XXXX technology )
VO : W2s , Pay stubs ?
Me : Gave them, she looked at them..
VO : Do you have any letters from clients ?
Me : Well, I do have presentations we give to our clients… I told her I came to India on family emergency XXXX and did not get a chance to get much papers
VO : She did not even care to listen to my words, said Thanks in a very irritating tone…(indicating, stop talking and go ) and gave me a blue form 221(g) by scribbling some number on it checking few boxes asking for information :
- Copy of H1B petition submitted to USCIS
- H1B I-797 Approval letter
- DS -160 Confirmation Page
- Labor Condition Application
- Client letters on their letter head
- Contract letters with clients
- Employment agreement with Employer and Employee
- Detail description of Internal Project
Me : I said Thank you ! and left.
At my first instincts, I realized, she was not interested in giving me Visa….was trying to find a hole to give query…she found one i.e. client letter… Based on my visa interview and questions asked to others in next line, here are my insights and tips
6 Tips from H1B visa experience – 221(g) Query :
- Study what your original H1B was filed for and make sure you have supporting documentation for that submitted petition to USCIS . If you have changed location, then you need to make sure the new role is updated with new LCA.
- Make sure you read the letter that your company submitted to USCIS and what they have mentioned about you in that. You have to be prepared on what they portrayed you and have supporting evidence to prove that you have skills and expertise.
- If you have stayed with a company for some time( over 2 years), then it is a good idea to start Labor and Green Card process and take it to I-140 level at least. Also carry the same form to stamping. I think, the logic from VO side can be like : “ This person has been with company so long, but have not filed for Green card..is there a real job role for him in America or with the company ? are they just manipulating visas ? ” … In general, companies file for Green card, if they have not found someone with your skills for a permanent position after a year or so…
- Client letters are critical. You need to carry client letters. It has to be on Letter head from the client. If you work with prospective clients, make sure you carry some kind of letter from them stating that you are working with them.
- Be prepared for questions that might not be related to your H1B visa at all and might throw you off like “ Why did you study in so and so school, why did you work in so and so…” Do NOT panic and try to answer them to your best…..
- Be specific in your answers like “I work with this particular client”…rather than saying – “clients like so and so”…the second one is ambiguous and can create sense of doubt in VO. It is not just this, but any question you answer, be specific.
Any similar experiences related to H1B visa 221(g) ? Any tips to share ?
Image credit : http://www.flickr.com/photos/anneh632/5262162215/sizes/m/