Background for B1 Visa
I attended Business Visa ( B1) stamping this week (Sep 2012) in Chennai, India and got B1/B2 approved for 10 years with Multiple Entry. Here is a summary of visas on my passport.
- F1 Visa ( student visa) approved in 2004 for 5 years
- H1B Visa ( work visa ) approved in 2007 for 3 years
- H1B Visa ( work visa extension) denied in 2011, when I went for stamping in Chennai. Received 221g in Feb 2011 and got a H1B visa denial letter after 3 months
Also, I changed company ( different from the H1B denial company) a month ago. The new company did B1 visa processing to attend some meetings.
Logistics – Getting to consulate and process at consulate – Photo issue
I just followed Sujith’s H1B experience and booked hotel at Crystal residency. Not the best, but it is very close ( 2 – 3 min walk) , no hassle of traveling. Mine was a 7:30 Appointment, just went there by 7 a.m …there were way too many people, who had late appointments, waiting outside…point is that no need to go too early. Go 15 min before your time, thats fine. You do not have place to sit when you are outside. You NEED to stand in line and you will sweat, just makes you feel uncomfortable….
There was a lot of checking, make sure you do not carry mobile phones, bags, any electronics items, pen drives, etc. As you enter inside, they verify the documents and send to other area for document check up. No token system, you are asked to sit and wait, then you are called for documents verification. The guy rejected my photo, though it was good. Reason was he said there was some shade around my spectacles. Anyways, there is a photographer around, he took a picture charged Rs 100 and gave 4 photos and it was accepted. Honestly, both looked same, but the guy who verified was not convinced…Lesson learnt, DO NOT wear Spectacles for the passport photo. Once documents are verified, then your fingerprints are taken and you will be asked to go to the other chamber, which has Air conditioner. Anyways, I waited for about 15 min and was asked by a guy to stand in a line for the interview. The VO was a mid aged lady around 45 or 50. She approved about 3 people before me. Two H1Bs and one B1. Here is how my interview went.
B1 Visa interview Questions :
Me : Good Morning ! Greeted with a smiling face
VO: said Good Morning and smiled.
VO : What is your company ?
Me : Said it.
VO : What does your company do ?
Me : Said it.
VO : Where are you going ?
Me : Said place name.
VO : What is the purpose of your trip ?
Me : Said the purpose
She was looking at the computer and asked…
VO : So, you have been to US before, worked there too.
Me : Yes
VO : How long is the trip ?
Me : 2 weeks
VO : Are you taking your wife ?
Me : No, it is a business trip and not taking her
VO : Do you have kids ?
Me : No, recently married
VO : What do you do at your company ?
Me : Explained my role
VO : How long have you been with the company ?
Me : 1 month
VO : So much less time and your company is sending you there ?
Me : Yes, said xxxx xxxxxx meetings
VO : What is your salary ?
Me : Said the same ( she asked this question to everyone in the line)
VO : Your visa is approved and you will receive your visa in a week.
Me : Said Thanks and left.
Though it seems like a lot, it was done in around 2 to 3 mins. She did NOT check any single paper from my side. I was out by 8:30 AM. It took about 1 hr 15 min.
I got my passport to hand in 3 days, courier delivered in one day.
Important Takeaways from My experience of B1 Visa Stamping
- Your previous visa denials do NOT have any impact on your current visa stamping as they are independent. In fact, I have mentioned clearly in my DS-160 form that my visa was denied for H1B in 2011. So, there is nothing to panic, if you have a visa denial, which was not YOUR mistake and you did not do anything wrong, you are fine. Your previous company mistakes should NOT impact your current stamping…
- The Visa officer wants to clearly know what your company does and why you are going to states. Be precise and prepared. Make sure you have agenda.
- Also, VO wants to make sure you are paid on par with market here…VO asked pay scale for everyone in front me. My understanding is that, if your pay is below market rate, then it raises a concern to the VO to do more due diligence on your case.
- Make sure you greet with a smiling face.
- My perception is that, as long as your company does not have abused the B1 visa program, you should get B1 visa stamped without any issues. There are companies that abuse the B1 program by sending employees to stay for 3 months to 5 months and make them work on projects, which is illegal. So, be careful, when you are asked to stay extended period of time. You will have to answer to Visa officer next time you go for L1 or H1B interview.
Also, if you are entering US on B1/ B2 visa, you do not need to go through standard line at Port of entry, you can go through APC Kiosks. Read US PoE Process B1 B2 Visa – Automated Passport Control (APC) Kiosk
Your Thoughts ?