F1 Visa Stamping during STEM OPT Experience

F1 Visa Stamping on STEM OPT – Interview Experience, Process, POE

In US Visa Stamping Experiences by KumarUpdated : 2 Comments

Going to US Visa stamping is often perceived as a risky move, if you are already living in US. There is more advice against it, if you plan to go for F1 visa stamping during OPT or STEM OPT.  One of our readers, “kept himself anonymous, Mr. A”, was in such situation to go for F1 visa stamping during STEM OPT.  He chose to give it a shot with confidence and was successful. Thanks a lot to him for taking time to share the positive experience with our readers. We really appreciate it !  Hope the positive experience will help boost confidence to many in similar situation. You can share your experience by writing to us at redbus2us(at) gmail.com or post it yourself at User Experiences Forum

My Background

I’m on F1 Visa STEM OPT with validity up to August 2021. My current F1 visa stamp in my passport was expiring at the end of Dec 2019.

My Profile – University, Work

I graduated from one of the top 60 public universities listed on the usnews.com Ranking website. I got an MS in computer science and afterward, I worked and switched multiple employers(NO CONSULTANCIES!) in the last 1.5 years

Shorter F1 Visa Duration due to 221g, No Dropbox option :

I got my first F1 visa stamped in Dec 2015 for just 4 years due to 221(g) Administrative processing . This delayed my stamping at that time by 4 weeks(usually takes 6- 8 weeks). I think the reason for getting a 221g was that the interview didn’t go as smooth as expected since I was quite nervous. Some of it because of false news spread by a student/some consultancies in my country that, the US is deporting students from so and so universities blah blah!. All was nonsense. I think the US embassy always tried to avoid false positives and sometimes if a few false negatives happen, people make a mess out of it even though it isn’t good. I didn’t take any help from these consultancies, but were aware of what’s happening on the internet over these issued and got unnecessarily nervous. Fast-forward 4 years, getting 221g back then was the reason I can’t go for a direct dropbox based stamping for F1 Visa which is pretty straight forward. 

F1 Visa Stamping while on OPT  – DS-160, Fee Payment, Interview Scheduling

The scheduling process was interesting, you have to be proactive to fill the DS-160 and pay the fees from your country itself. You can’t use overseas credit cards or Paypal or something else, that’s very very annoying!. It’s still old school. Filling DS-160 takes time since you have to be very detailed in it and at the time of re-issuing application, you might have done several internships, job switches, etc. so you’ll be required to add all that(at least I did, don’t know about others), plus the time needed to gather support from Employer and making them understand the situation. The more proactive, the faster you get through it. I spent 3 weeks in total in my home country and I wasn’t so proactive so I got a visa interview date 2 weeks ahead of the ten-printing day.

Biometrics Experience at VAC

I had to attend for biometrics before visa interview. In general, people who get 221g and some of the once who don’t get 221g (people go through the dropbox method might be called for a visa interview afterward).So, all who are called for visa interviews have to go through Biometrics a.k.a ten-prints. The biometric process was pretty straight-forward.  You won’t be facing any visa officer there, it’s not happening at Embassy, it happens in  Visa Application Centers (VAC)! Moreover, there would be a few days difference between ten-printing day and visa interview day depends upon how well you plan and during what time you are applying for a visa.

Document Checklist for F1 Visa Stamping while on STEM OPT

It’s pretty standard to follow the links given on the US embassy website and fill forms. Be truthful and don’t hide anything from them. I’ve even shared my social media links. I travelled with below documents

  • Current offer letter from my employer
  • Valid passport
  • Valid F1-visa stamp
  • I-94 Copy
  • I-20 with travel signature
  • New STEM OPT EAD Card
  • A letter from my employer to show my ties to the STEM OPT: demonstrating the income, place of work, full-time employment tasks, etc and the reason for travel-visiting my family for 3 weeks!.

Visa Interview Day – F1 Visa Stamping during STEM OPT  

It was pretty standard experience like others US Visa Experiences. From the time allocated on your appointment i.e when you have to appear at the embassy for an interview with the visa office, it takes typically 1.5 to 2 hrs until you get to talk to the visa officer.

What NOT to Carry for US Visa Interview:

Just carry your docs that’s it, no phones, fitness watches, smart glasses/watches whatever keep at home!. If you wear all such things you would be forced to leave the line and give it to your relatives if they are standing for you for 2 long hours outside the embassy. Don’t accompany so many people with you, your relatives won’t we allowed to even stand in the line, they will be standing quite away from you. Be simple on that day. Just you and your documents.:).

F1 Visa Stamping on STEM OPT – Visa Interview Questions

This time interview was really quick and smooth. Other than I-20 and STEM-OPT EAD, the visa officer didn’t even ask for anything. Below are the questions asked by visa officer.

  • What you do?
  • To whom you work for?
  • How would you support yourself financially?
  • What’s the reason for Re-applying F1-visa and Will your company file an H1B for you down the road, yes/no? Why?

The interview happened for just a min, my answers were to the point and very very short some times 1 word only. Just tell them the truth, in short, tell them what they asked for, not what you think is good to tell ! 🙂  

I answered the visa officer’s questions as best of my knowledge. I didn’t prepare much for the visa interview since I was supported by my employer in the case they reject my visa in any scenario then, the employer will immediately work on other visas to bring me on-board. So, I interviewed with no pressure. 🙂

My suggestion for F1 Visa Interview during OPT or STEM OPT  : 

If you are in such a situation, have a conversation with the employer and work out all different paths before taking this risk. There isn’t a risk, but do it for your peace of mind.

Support form different communities over the internet for F1 Stamping on OPT 

Not good at all!. I’ve not heard a single case over the internet which in similar scenarios got rejected, no one mentioned acceptance too, that was a pain! :), you always look for 1 single Yes, when so many speculations surround you. All of them including my DSO has shared unknown risks, which doesn’t make sense to me ever, but I can understand their standpoint since they always prefer precautions over risks & I respect that but don’t follow in some cases. 🙂 I got 1 suggestion from an unknown source on internet(blind), that it’s better to wait for another 2 years and get your H1B afterward you can visit your home country. I didn’t like that coward idea. Any undocumented risk was simply an excuse for not going for re-stamping earlier & restricting myself from visiting your family members for 2 long years.

My suggestion is always truthful while speaking and clear in your head about any question they might ask you. Don’t fake and you’ll definitely get “YOUR VISA IS APPROVED!” response from the visa officer. 🙂

F1 Visa Stamping Processing time, Passport Pick-up

For me, it happens to be quick! Monday, I had my interview, after which it highlights “Administrative processing” online if you check with your case number. The status changed on Wednesday afternoon that your passport is ready for pick up. I picked it up on Thursday morning. Totally, it was about 3 days.

F1 Visa Stamping Processing time, Passport Pick-up

For me, it happens to be quick! Monday, I had my interview, after which it highlights “Administrative processing” online if you check with your case number. The status changed on Wednesday afternoon that your passport is ready for pick up. I picked it up on Thursday morning. Totally, it was about 3 days.

US Port of Entry (POE) Experience with new F1 Stamping on STEM OPT

The US Port of Entry Process was smooth. The CBP officer asked pretty basic questions, where are you going? where are you working? what are you working on? and how much cash you are carrying? Stamped, have a safe rest of your travel. 🙂

What has been your experience attending F1 Visa Stamping on OPT ? Any tips to share ? Add your thoughts as comments.

   

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Comments ( 2 )

  1. Cr5131

    Hello,

    Congratulations on your Visa stamping.

    I recently booked my Dropbox appointment for my H-1B visa extension. After booking the appointment I read that if you were given 221g in your previous visa stamping you are ineligible for Dropbox and this concerned me. I read in many places about this so I ended up calling UStravledocs twice and asked about the possibility of my Dropbox eligibility. I spoke to 2 Agents just to confirm this. Both of the 2 Agents responded that 221g is not a denial and that shouldn’t stop you from being eligible for Dropbox. There is some confusion out there regarding this topic, so wanted to share this information. My Dropbox is scheduled for 28th February. Hopefully everything goes smoothly.

    1. administrator
      Kumar

      Cr5131,
      Thanks for sharing. When you tried to answer the questions for dropbox, was there any question that you answered on 221g or refusal ?
      Also, do update here on your status after dropbox.

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