Detailed H1B Visa Stamping, OFC Experience – Chennai, India – 2014

In Visa Experiences by Kumar31 Comments

One of  our blog readers, Raja Sekhar, has attended H1B Visa Stamping in Chennai along with his spouse. He has taken time to write a very comprehensive experience, describing each and every step. He has also created a very good document that has step by step instructions. Firstly Congratulations to you and your family. Thanks a lot Raja Sekhar for sharing your experience with our readers, it really helps ! You can also share your experience here

Background Info – H1B Petition – RFE- Waiting :

My H1 petition was for the year 2013-14. I have 15 years of experience with a top IT services company from India. I’ve quit from the company and got employment with a small company from the east coast.

After an inordinately long wait since the petition filing (Apr 2013), we got an RFE in Aug 13. Response was sent in Oct 13 and finally the petition got approved in Nov 13. After another brief wait for the original documents, company info etc., etc., I was able to secure the Visa interview and OFC appointments during mid Feb 2014 in Chennai.

All these factors gave me great trepidation, as I traveled from Bangalore to Chennai. But I went prepared. I made a laundry list of documents to carry (originals + a copy), information required from the employer and master list of questions.

Day 1 – Experience at the OFC:
—————————–

The OFC was on a Wednesday at 10:30 AM. I reached the OFC by around 9:30 AM. It wasn’t planned, I over estimated Chennai traffic. There was a long queue outside the OFC. So spent the time walking in that area, along with my wife and kid. Joined the queue around10:20 AM. Was able to get into the building only around 10:40 AM. I was asked to show the Appointment Confirmation, DS-160 Confirmation and Passports multiple times. I was given a token number and my wife & 5 yr old daughter were given another. Finished the finger printing and photographing and were out by 11:05 AM. Process here is quite straight forward and gets done like precision clockwork. Since we had time till the next day for the Visa interview, we went to the Consulate and checked the surroundings (like restaurants, where to join the queue etc.). It was a holiday at the Consulate and a security person, quite a gentleman, contrary to my expectation explained very patiently all my queries on when to come, where to join, what to bring and what not to etc.

Tips for OFC:
1. Chennai heats up very fast during the day. Try to fix up a suitable time where you can be mentally & physically comfortable;
2. Do not rush to the OFC. Try to reach not more than 30 mins before the scheduled time;
3. Do not carry any items other than the absolute necessary for the process (i.e. documents). If going along with kids, carry minimal required and be ready to dump them if asked. There are no storage facilities near OFC;
4. Dress comfortably;
5. The Appointment Confirmation, DS-160 Confirmation and Passports will be asked for several times!! So keep them handy so as not to spill your other documents;
6. Ensure you get your passports and stamped DS-160 Confirmation pages back;
7. Kids below 14 years, pls carry a US Visa specification photo. Even though my kid was along with my wife, they asked for one copy of the photograph. They didn’t take any fingerprints for her too.


Day 2 – Experience at the Consulate:

———————————–

The appointment was at 11:00 AM. I reached the Consulate by about 10:15 AM. Thanks to my kid, we had to go to the restaurant in front of the Consulate, instead of waiting in the hot sun. We got into the queue (beyond the Consulate compound wall) around 10:30 AM. They checked our passports and let us into the queue adjacent to the compound wall around10:45 AM. Then the men and women are separated for security check. I met my wife & kid back inside the Consulate. At the front desk in another building they would stick a token number foil on the passport and let you into “THE” main room. First step is to wait in a small queue to get your fingerprints verified. Then proceed to the waiting area and wait for your token number. By this time butterflies and all sorts of flying things were all over my stomach. Contrary to my imagination the area was kind of crowded and looked chaotic. I chose to wait in the seating area rather than join the queue as soon as the counter was allocated. Joined the queue when there were only two others left in there. Then the moment of truth, our turn. Approached the counter confidently, with a light smile and placed my folder on the window sill.

H1B Visa Stamping Interview Questions
Me: “Good morning officer”
VO: “Good morning!”

VO: “Passports pls…”
Me: Passed the passports across from my ‘harmonium folder’

VO: “So where are you going?”
Me: “XXXXXX, NY”

VO: “Who is your employer?”
Me: “XXXXXXX XXXXXX Inc.”

VO: “What?”
Me: “XXXXXXX XXXXXX Inc.”
VO: “Ok”

VO: “What would be your role? Your duties”
Me: Explained.

VO: “What would be your salary?”
Me: “XXX USD/annum”

VO: “How did you find this job?”
Me: “My college friend, who was an employee of this company, referred me for this job”

VO: “How many times were you interviewed?”
Me: “X times”

VO: Now turning towards my daughter, with a big smile – “Where will you be working young lady?”
My daughter was completely lost. She had come prepared to tell him that she would make snow men, go to school etc., in the US 🙂

VO: Turning back towards me, picked up the non-immigrant rights phamplet “As you might know, you have rights, as a non-immigrant, while working in the US. Pls go thru the same” and passed the same across the counter.
Me: By this time I was already elated. “Ok officer”

Then came the magic words 🙂

VO: “Your visa is approved. Your passports will be returned with the visa stamp”
Me: “Thank you officer. Good day!”

The Visa Officer did not ask my wife any questions. And nor did he ask for any documents other than the passports!!!

Tips for Visa Stamping :
1. Chennai heats up very fast during the day. Try to fix up a suitable time where you can be mentally & physically comfortable;
2. Do not rush to the Consulate. Try to reach not more than 30 mins before the scheduled time;
3. Do not carry any items other than the absolute necessary for the process (i.e. documents). If going along with kids, carry minimal required and be ready to dump them if asked. There is a small shack outside the Consulate which was keeping things for a small price. I would suggest do not rely on its availability;
4. Be prepared to get a manual complete body check;
4. Dress comfortably;
5. The Appointment Confirmation, DS-160 Confirmation and Passports will be asked a couple of times!! So keep them handy so as not to spill your other documents;
6. Don’t get worked up as to what will happen at the interview. Try to keep yourself busy with things that would relax you, till the time of interview. I visited a temple the previous evening. And while waiting in the queue, I struck a conversation with the gentleman before me;
7. Confidence and comfort comes with the fact that you have all the required documentation and information with you. Ensure you spend good amount of time (even before you schedule the interview) to collect the documents and the information;
8. I’ve created a master list of possible questions and documents to carry – thanks to blogs like redbus2us.com. Get answers to all of these questions and be aware of the answers to all these questions. There will be some information which you may/need not know by-heart. Quick bullets about your employer, for example, can be printed on one page and taken with you;
9. Place your documents in your folder in an orderly fashion and remember where they are, for quick retrieval;
10. Keep your cool.

Documents I carried (along with a photocopy) for H1B Visa Stamping
——————————————-
1. Passports (old and new)
2. DS-160 confirmation
3. Appointment Confirmation
4. I797
5. I129
6. LCA
7. Client invitation letter
8. Client contract
9. Business level service agreement
10. Latest CV (matching the duties)
11. Last 3 months’ bank statements
12. Academic records of self & spouse (certificates, marks sheets, copies)
13. Appointment letter from Company
14. Consulate letter
15. Latest IT returns
16. Past visits and visa information
17. Employment Verification Letter
18. Experience letter from previous employers
19. Information about your employer;
20. Aadhar cards of self, spouse and kid
21. Marriage Certificate
22. Kid’s birth certificate
23. Some photos from our marriage

My Master list of possible Visa Interview questions

————————————

  • Which company do you work?
  • Do you work at the company or the client location?
  • Where do you work (place in the US?)?
  • What are your duties?
  • How long have you been working with this company?
  • What will be your salary?
  • How long will you be working?
  • EC or EVC or E model?
  • Will you be working for the petitioner or the client?
  • To whom will you be reporting to?
  • Usual professional benefits?
  • How will you manage your expenses before your first pay check?
  • Why are you the only one eligible to be sent to the US?
  • What are the differentiating qualifications?
  • How long have you been working with this company?
  • Who is your client?
  • What does your client do?
  • Clients address?
  • How many employees from your company work for the client?
  • Size of your company?
  • Business of the company?
  • Name some other clients of your company?
  • Company address?
  • Who is the president/chairman of your company?
  • How many years has your company been doing the business?
  • Organization chart?
  • Address of the company
  • Have you been to the US?
  • Highest education qualifications?
  • How many years of experience do you have?

I have put together a document with step by step process guide : Download File
All the best folks! See you in the US!

Related Articles


Comments ( 31 )

  1. Bharath

    Very good blog with detailed information.
    I have a question. Very recently My H1 has got approved and I am yet to get appointment with Chennai visa consulate. Currently i have B1 valid visa (multiple entry) and my current employer indicated that I may need to visit US during May 2017. Should I take H1 appointment after the trip or is it advisable to do it now? Also, if I take appointment later during May would it cause any problem to enter to US with B1 visa?

    Please help me to understand.

    1. administrator
      Kumar

      Bharat,
      Usually, when you go for H1B stamping, the consular may not cancel your B1 visa and leave it valid, besides your H1B Approval stamp. Having said that, there is no guarantee…They may also stamp B1 visa with “cancelled without prejudice”…There is no official documentation that confirms that, it is just a general understanding. You may write to the consulate to confirm or call them too to confirm.

  2. ani401

    I have been following the blog closely and it helped me a lot to get my visa issued. I like to share few of my experience in Chennai VAC and consulate so that it could be of some use to anybody who will go for stamping to chennai in near future.
    I had few bitter experience on the day of bio metrics. In VAC they identified minor problem in my wife’s DS 160 which needed correction and they instructed to get it corrected within 30 mins. Having no other options I had to take help of a tout near VAC to get the DS 160 corrected , he did the correction but with irresponsibility ( I had to stand next to him monitoring and guiding constantly while he was doing the correction ) and taking advantage of our helplessness he charged us 700 Rs . So its my sincere request to all to cross check the forms multiple times if need be before reaching the VAC. rest of the process was simple and well directed.
    Experience in consulate was simple and it was a cake walk as the VO asked me about the project, my highest educational information , my salary and then the VO turned to my wife asking her about tenure of marriage , was the marriage arranged and her purpose of visit .
    I pray to God for all that your H1B visa gets issued.

  3. Srinivasan

    Hi All,

    My case was approved on Aug 31,2015.My visa interview is scheduled by next week.Now the problem here is,i don’t have client invite letter with client’s letter head.Instead of it i have client invite letter with my employer’s letter head.Will it there be any problem due to this at my interview?..Please advice..

    Thanks,
    Srinivasan

    1. administrator
      Saurabh

      Srinivasan,
      That’s not very helpful as it is on your employer’s letterhead. However, your petition was approved w/ same set of documents and that should give you confidence. It’s not a 100% guarantee as visa stamping is a different ball game.

  4. Prabhakar

    Dear all,

    I am sharing my visa stamping experience at the Chennai consulate. Even though I was confident of handling, I always had that final moment nervousness as I missed my chance in 2013-14 lottery and this time due to my travel to India in May’14 just got me a denial on Change of Status from H4 to H1 so I was asked to go for a stamping.

    It was an Afro-American who was my VO. He asked for my i797 and i129 . I made a mistake as I didn’t arrange i129 properly so it was not in order but still the VO was patient enough till I gave him page by page and also my employer didn’t give me a page (i129) which contained the revenue information which I realised only after the VO asked me & it terrified me as two guys before me in the same queue got the denial due to insufficient paperwork but then the VO said he will pull it out from the system (he had a softcopy attached during my visa filing in Apr) and got the required page. It was my mistake that I didn’t arrange it properly after going through them before the interview so please be careful with everything.

    Then he asked questions like:
    1. Who is my employer?
    2. Who is the client?
    3. How did you find this job?
    4. Whats your annual income offered?

    After couple of minutes – he said “we are cancelling your H4 visa as we are issuing a new H1B” :). It lasted for about 8-10 mins and initially I thought he was a real cool guy as he approved it for a girl so quickly with a big smiling face but then next two guys had a tough time due to insufficient paperwork. It was a good experience!!!

  5. vikram

    Hello guys, i am sharing my H1-B visa stamping experience which held in chennai US Consulate.

    My appoint was scheduled at 11:30 AM 31st Dec and BIO metric was on 30th Dec at 4:30PM.

    BIO metric experience:-
    I went at around 4:00 PM and I could see the queue for 3:30 slot and 4 PM slot. I thought it might get late for us, but i got a chance to enter at around 5Pm and the whole process was done in say 15 mins.

    You can take mobile phones and wallet to this office, only thing is that you need to switch off your mobiles after entering the building premises.
    Imp Point :- After taking the bio metric and photo, the guy in the counter asked to carry 2 passport size photographs as there is some problem in the system and he is not able to upload. This is ridiculous, as they have
    clearly mentioned that photo will be taken at ASE, on the safer side i had carried the photographs after reading some of the blogs here, else I would have struggled to get the photographs in a different city.

    Key points :- Do carry passport size photographs on the safer side, they should be of specification as mentioned in the website.

    And the Big day arrived.. Dec 31st Visa interview day.

    I went to the consulate office at around 11 and i could see very long queues…

    Once we entered the building after the security checks and all we were asked to give the bio metric once again and also they scanned our photographs.

    Then It was my turn… here is the conversation ….

    VO :- Which company you are going to work for
    Me :- XXX company sir

    VO :- Typed something in the system… Is it new company?
    Me :- No,its established in 2006

    VO :- How many employees work for that company
    Me :- YY s

    VO :- Who is your client?
    Me :- XXYY

    VO :- will you be working at client’s location or your employers location.
    Me :- My petiotiner’s location.

    VO :- What will be your salary per annum
    Me :- AAA $

    VO :- How did you get to know about this job opportunity
    Me :- Answered

    VO :- Project document please
    Me :- Passed it… I had only project plan. Luckily he didn’t ask for more.

    VO :- I need to take copy of your I-797B as your passport is not attached to the petition.
    I guess this is because I had renewed my passport after applying the petition.

    VO :- You can consider the visa to be conditionally approved.
    He took the photocopy and my new passport and put a rubber band around it and said you will get to know the final status by evening.

    VO :- As a non-immegrant you will have certain rights in US.. please go through them.

    At the end of the day my status is still “adminstrative processing”. Any body can comment what are the chances?

  6. rajani

    Hi All,

    Thank you for sharing all your experiences.
    I am planning to go for H1B stamping in the 2nd week of Jan.Any one please let me know do I need to fill the DS160 for my son.He is 10 yrs old.

    1. administrator
      Kumar

      Yes, every applicant, including children, requires separate DS-160. You can check the first line at : http://www.ustraveldocs.com/in/in-niv-ds160info.asp

  7. Lucky

    Hi Friends

    I got H1B visa approved in US chennai consulate General (29th Oct)

    H1B
    ====

    Me: Good Morning
    VO: Good Morning and How are you doing ?

    VO: Passports pls…
    Me: Passed the passports

    VO: So where are you going?
    Me: XXXXXX

    Me. Fine
    VO: Which employer in US ?
    Me: XYZ

    VO: What is the size of the company ?
    Me: Answered

    VO: What the company doing in US ?
    Me: Answered

    VO: Is this new Employment .. Typing for 2 mins
    Me: Yes. Explained

    VO : How did you come to know about this employer ?
    Me: Friend referred who is now employee of that employer. and Search for authenticity of the employee Govt websites.

    Vo: Typing for 5 mins .. He told pls wait sir ..
    Me: No problem. Fine

    VO : Finally. Visa is approved.. Turning back towards me, picked up the non-immigrant rights phamplet “As you might know, you have rights, as a non-immigrant, while working in the US. Pls go thru the same” and passed the same across the counter.
    Me: Thanks you.. Have a great day

    H4
    ====
    Vo : Just smile and Hi to my wife
    Wife: Hi too ..

    Thats all

    All the Best for all in this blog and following it.

  8. Chirag Patel

    Hi Friends,

    I got the H1B stamping from Mumbai,India in this month(Sept 2014).

    Please find my interview experience.

    VO – Good Morning
    Me – Good Morning Sir, How are you?
    VO – I an good. Thank you for asking.
    VO – Show me your petition
    Me – Provided I-797B
    VO – Who is the client?
    Me- Answer my client’s name.
    VO – Who is you employer
    Me – Answer my employer’s name.
    VO – What is you job duties?
    Me – Explained everything about roles and responsibility.
    VO – Please explain ore thing about roles and responsibility.
    Me – Explained in details
    VO – Show me project docuents.
    Me – I didn’t have project documents but I provided Employer’s letter and all role ans responsibility were explained in that letter.
    VO – How any hrs you will work weekly.
    Me – Weekly 40 Hrs.
    VO – Are you married sir?
    Me – Yes sir
    VO – Do you have child?
    Me – Yes, 1 baby boy
    VO – Will your wife and child travelling with you?
    Me – No sir (Answer should be NO, if you are going to 1st time in US from India)
    VO – Why?
    Me – No plan for them. I will be back india once project is done.
    VO – You VISA is approved sir. Congratulation.
    Me – Thank you very much sir.

    Note:- Please be in confidence with smiling face.

    Best of luck to all.

  9. Mayank

    Dear Saurabh,
    I came to US with my wife on J1 VISA. Later on I converted to H1B University. I got job here and I am working here on H1B industry VISA. My wife travelled to India and got her H4 (university) VISA stamped.
    I am going to visit India and appaering for H1b VISA first time. Does my wife also has to attend the interview or she is waived off for interview?
    Anticipating your reply.
    Best, Mayank

  10. Visahelp1504

    Thanks for detailed information provided. What did you mention in your wife’s DS 160 for the question who is sponsoring for your trip?

  11. JAY

    HI,

    Till now I have got no update from my company. My Visa as initiated by my company and till now I have no updated from them. How can I get to know my visa status, whether it is selected in the lottery or not. H1B was initiated for me last year as well but at the end I was communicated that my visa was not selected in the lottery process. Can a persons H1B be not selected in the lottery for two consecutive times ?

    Thanks You
    JAY

  12. 119eromr

    Hello All!

    Quick question.

    My application for H1 would undergo premium processing this time. Although I am hoping it would get approved by end of May, if some RFEs come up, it might well stretch into June.
    I intend to travel to India in June. Is it okay for me to travel if the visa approval process is still on? Is it mandatory to travel only once it is approved?

    I understand I will be able to return only after stamping in Oct. What I do not understand is whether it is okay to travel while the process of approval is going on.

    Thanks,

    1. Grad Student

      Do you have a valid I-20, EAD Card, f-1 Visa and employment letter (& Pay stubs if necessary)?

      If you do yes it is very much possible to do so, but you will have to return to your home country for CP around Oct 1st

  13. raveendra

    Hi,

    Please advise for my question.

    I am entered in USA through L1 visa and my H1B approved for 3 yrs. Now i need to transfer from L1 visa to H1B ( with amendment) with same employeer. Please tell how long this process will take. I have to go back to india in 2 weeks. Please let me know will take more than 2 weeks for processing?

    Thanks,

    1. administrator
      Saurabh

      raveendra,
      Process will take 2-3 months. If you have to leave US, then this amendment will not serve any purpose as it will be abandoned once you leave US. If your intent is to work on H-1, then why not return on stamped H-1 visa.

      BTW, do you want to move to H-1 w/ same L-1 employer or the old H-1 employer?

  14. tunnu

    Hi RAjshekhar,

    I am going to india for h1 stamping. I have worked for 2 years in US on H1 but this will be my first stamping from India and I have a 5 years daughter whom will be coming back with me. This will be her first stamping too. Can you please guide me through the process for stamping for my daughter h4 stamping. DO i have to take her with me to consulate for visa interview, what all docs i need for her. Do i have to fill DS160 for her too, how about fees? Please help me with the process

    1. administrator
      Saurabh

      tunnu,
      She can avail interview waiver. She doesn’t need to appear personally and you can carry her passport for stamping. I am not 100% sure about biometrics, but I think she does need to appear for that in person.

    2. ram

      tunnu,

      This sounds weird. I am guessing your daughter was born in US? If not how did she enter US without a VISA?

      If she was born in US you need to get her US passport made and apply for VISA to enter India. Being born in US, she automatically becomes a US citizen and does not need a US VISA.

    3. ram

      OK maybe my bad. Guess she got her VISA from some other country? In that case just follow Saurabh’s advice.

      But here is a little secret. Taking your daughter along for stamping is a better idea! You get prioritized automatically. And Male VISA officers generally tend to be pleasant when you stand in front of the counter with your daughter! 🙂

    4. Vikram Krishna

      Hi Rajsekhar,

      I recently been to US with 2 Year old baby.

      Your kid is eligible for interview waiver program.

      Still you need to fill DS-160 and she’s got to go for bio-metrics.

      Personally I would suggest to take ur kid for interview as you get priority and it will be smooth.

      Good Luck..!!!

          1. Vikram Krishna

            @tunnu:

            My wife corrects me saying that our kid dint go thru bio-metrics. Even then, taking her helped us to beat long long queue. A proxy, I say. 🙂

Leave a Comment

Comments Policy :
  • Comments are to drive conversation, add your thoughts, experiences, ask questions!
  • Do NOT write hate speech, swear words, or get into fight. Maintain etiquette
  • Enter your Name, valid Email, URL(optional - Facebook, LinkedIn profile URLs).
  • Your email will NOT be published. Do NOT post any phone numbers, email-ids
  • Do NOT post any links from other websites, unless official sites, University websites.
  • By submitting your comment, you agree to Term and Conditions of our website.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.