Our reader, Sambit has taken quite a bit of time to write a very detailed visa stamping experience. It is very detailed experience and you will truly enjoy reading the experience…Thanks to him for sharing his experience with us and Congrats to him and his family on getting visa. You can share yours here
Background : OFC Appointment
First thing First. On Day 1(12th Sept) we went for the bio-metrics at OFC center. Nothing to worry there. All guys are Indians and are very professional. I had along with me my wife and my 11 month old kid for their H4 stamping as well. The time slot given to us was 3:00 PM. We reached the venu at around 2:40 PM and could see long queues on either side of the main entrance. Yes, they have made two separate lines so that You don’t get under an auto or vehicle.
Documents required for OFC Appointment USA Visa – Day 1 :
1) Appointment Letter. [This indicates timing] 2) DS 160 Confirmation Page
3) Passport. Only the new passport is needed but you should carry the old one as well in case they want to see.
4) You need 2 photos of your kid [if you have any kids with you]
Yours and that of grown up dependents’ photo will be taken inside the OFC which is in the first floor. For your kid they will take the photo which you have, scan it and return it back to you.
I have seen people in jeans, tees, formals etc. Nothing matters so far your face is clean and hair is in place.
Tip at OFC Center: In case you have kids and the ones who cannot walk as in my case instead of waiting and falling in line walk to the security. In my case they checked our time slot and allowed us to go in even though we were 20 minutes too early.
Evening & Night before Day 2: Loads of expectation. Fear of failure and all kind of stories read in the blogs about rejections left me depressed and anxious. I feel it’s always good to take a break from routine helps in a way to calm the nerves. We decided to go around and see Chennai. Visited a Shiva temple (Kapaleshwar at Mailapur area). The diversion and the break helped give away the negativity vibe. Went to a nice restaurant and at good veg food. Believe me food is cheap, much cheaper as compared to Bangalore thanks to less Sales and VAT tax in TN. We went early to sleep and my kid co-operated well as he was completely exhausted at the end of the day. While in bed and still introspecting I realized I am trying too hard and in the process stressing myself too much.
Things that crossed my mind which was generating stress.
1) Why your designation says Manager (Yes I work as a Manager Designation) yet you say it is a developers job?
2) You have travelled in B1 VISA twice and stayed for 89 days why? (Yes I had travelled to US twice in the past and people and immigration fools they keep telling that if the stay is for more than 4 weeks then it is a problem )
3) Why your petition filling client name is Appleton Papers Inc and Your I797(B) (Approved petition) says Appvion Inc?
[Yes my client changed its name in May 2013 after my petition got filed in April 2013].
4) Has your VISA been rejected earlier before?
[I had applied my L1 B last time in 2012 where it got denied by USCIS but in my DS 160 I had mentioned that it was never rejected as told by some immigration documentation guideline yet some Immigration PANDIT in my company claims that “Denial” is the same as “rejection” ]
I might be asked why is that I have falsified my information in DS 160 in that case.
If I fail to convince then I might get a 221G form then GOD knows what would happen.
I tried lot of things to ease my uneasiness but nothing seemed to work. Then I remembered the face of my Grand Father when had died and was being carried away, and I realized life is relieved when you are dead. Let me sleep tonight as a dead man and dead men don’t try to talk like VO, don’t make an effort to impress, and don’t try to speak with an accent. And then I saw my little one sleeping beside me soundly like a dead man without any impression of anxiety, anger but in harmony and with complete bliss. I told to my wife who was equally anxious and nervy as I was while she was making an effort to sleep (after all she had to remember and answer few questions on where she is going, what her husband does, what does she do, what type of marriage was it, what is the wedding date, child age, husbands likes and dislikes etc) that for some strange reason I have a feeling that visa officer is going to ask very few questions tomorrow and it would be a lady interviewing us. That’s what happened the next day.
The Decision –Day : USA H1B Visa Interview Day
I got up early at 5:30AM although the alarm was set to 4:30AM (Yeah I stopped the alarm and reset it to run at 5:30AM) and checked the check list of documents which I would carry. I was pretty sure only a handful of documents will be important and need to be kept separately in a transparent folder.
Documents required for H1B Visa Stamping
1. Appointment letter [The one you carried on Day 1] 2. DS 160 of all three [Same as Day 1] 3. Passport [if you have old passport as well keep it along with you in a separate folder] 4. Approved petition original I797
5. Company letter head which we call BEP letter.
6. Passport Photo
Off all the above items 1-4 are must.
None bothered to check on items 5-6 during the entire process.
Besides this I had all the originals of previous employment and education stacked in a different transparent folder.
Photo copies of previous relieving letters.
10 wedding photos.
Last two weeks’ salary sleep attested by my company HR.
Finished the rituals of brushing, taking shower and puja in an hour’s time. Then got involved in preparing my kid for the show. He was all very happy that morning wearing a blue pant and a US flagged tee shirt as if he is there already in US. Few mosquito bites in his cheek the previous night made him look like a bosomed cherry. We had little breakfast and left for the VISA office. Reached their by 8:00 AM again 30 minutes before.
Getting to the US Embassy, Outside and Inside Process before Interview
We tried the tested mechanism which we had applied at OFC center on Day 1. Instead of waiting in queue we walked to the security officer and showed the appointment letter. To my surprise they asked us to walk ahead. Those in waiting must be feeling angry or upset but then holding a 14 KG brat of mine in cowboy mood who cannot walk as he is only 11 months is a challenge in itself. By looking at the crowd he had a field day and every good looking thing was his instrument of amusement. He was in full song all the while making various noise, sound, scramming all the way.
By 8:20 AM we were inside the office after security check-in for the finger prints. Then there were further screening done based on DS 160 Confirmation page and passport.
Let me summarize the steps:
1. You get a token labeled on the Primary applicant passport
2. Security screening
3. Finger printing
4. DS 160, Passport verification
Then we were asked to go to the interview section which is a separate building inside. I remembered 2007 in a flash when it was more miss managed and how I stood in queue and heat and sweat before I could manage entry to interview block. Then I was in the same place for my B1 VISA stamping. It is more systematic today. There are people who call you where you can go and stand in the queue and your token is also displayed in big display boards. In 2007 you could choose which VO you don’t want to go by dragging your feet but today it is all auto generated. System allocates the tokens and mine was assigned to first counter in the inner section where I could see a young good looking VO on chair. My heart sunk as I had heard that ladies reject the most of VISAs. On the adjacent counter there was another mid aged VO must be in her 50’s. None the less I cannot change my VO now so I must answer the questions put in by her and leave rest to fate. The kid was a distraction here. I could see that my token would come up after 4 other applicants. Instead of standing in queue we decided to seat in waiting chairs and rejoice as it is not worth straining myself. My kid saw a TV screen with some cow boy chasing few bulls. The moments he saw the bulls and cows he went hysteric making all sort of funny sounds and grumbling gestures. Everyone for a few seconds got hooked to him and I could see few people laughing out looking at him. I believe it must have brought down few nerves. It certainly helped mine. There was this old man who was not speaking English and VO was making all efforts trying to under the purpose of travel. I could hear her speaking in Tamil. Could not make out whether that got approved or rejected but it continued for close to six minutes. I had a couple with their US born kid in queue before us. When they moved for the interview we went and stood in the queue. They guy was senior QA and had been to US earlier on H1B. He was wearing a tee shirt and was pretty relaxed. He had placed his document folder on the interview window and was talking in a very relaxed manner with his legs crossed. In the other counters also I could see similar postures. The VO who was in the adjacent section was probing hard on the applicant. It looked to me a non H1B. The candidate was smart and was speaking fluently but all could hear towards the end is “You need to go back to your HR team and re-apply as the category under which you have applied for VISA is not appropriate”. I did not see the passport being returned but it looked like a rejection case to me.
The guy facing the interview in my counter got his visa done and we could hear it loud and clear. My wife asked me to look at my son who was on full song and was in mothers lap. Then we walked in.
H1B Visa Interview with Visa Officer
I greeted saying Good Morning. I could see she was in good mood and was good looking to be candid. She greeted back and asked for the passports.
She tried scanning it and read the bar code which was taking longer to fetch the information. She exclaimed saying the systems are very slow today morning. I did not say anything and waited but when the waiting was more than 10 sec. and she was still looking at all of us I quipped “Have heard about Monday Morning blues when the systems go to sleep but why on a Friday Morning”. And in response she said “No there are very slow today”.
What is the purpose of visit?
Who is Your client?
I said “Appvion Inc” but she could not hear it properly and re-iterated “App…what?” and I said “Appvion Inc” and there she said ohh…Appvion.
So what do You do for Appvion?
In midway she looked little un-interested. Probably she could make out that what I explained suffices what she wanted to hear. And I stopped.
What’s your education?
What’s your total yr of experience?
10 yrs is what I said.
What’s the salary?
She took some pause and kept making gestures to my kid who is trying to get down from mothers laps and go on the floor. The next question was to my wife.
H4 Visa Interview Questions
Your name Mam?
So how long you have been married?
Where are you going?
Wisconsin is what she said. She probably could not remember the place. And after a pause she said “Appleton”
So he is your son?
What’s his name?
How many people turned up for marriage?
That a big number I believe is what she said.
So four years of marriage with a kid. Good is what she said and was visibly in a good state of mind.
One final time she asked me if she can see the I797 form which I forwarded promptly. Then she returned it back to me.
You visa is approved but I tell You it’s one painful flight journey to US. Probably that was the advice to my son. And she said “Hi”…but he instead of saying “Hi” screamed “Bye bye” and waved his hand to the VO…In all smiles we said good day, thanked and left.
Exiting the US Embassy after Visa Interview
Took the exit root. Came to the main entrance and handed over the BLUE DART form along with Rs 900 cash and left. We could see it had rained in the mean while and long queue outside. We were out by 9:20 AM, distressed and happy.
Word of Advice à Tips: Don’t carry too many documents.
• Don’t over prepare.
• Wear something that looks good on You.
• Use the window as a resting place to keep the documents
• Don’t try an accent or try impress.
• They are doing the verification job for H1 B
• See a friend in VO and not a monster.
• Except your Passport they should not retain any other document. Ensure to ask for them and get all documents if they retain any by mistake.
• Try see some kids in that interview hall it would bring down the nerves.
• You are a dead man without any expectations so why be anxious VISA stamping.
• It is the if’s that bother the most. Sly them temporarily as You can see from my case she never cared about asking about my previous travel s on B1 VISA and stay duration or for that matter on my L1 B visa rejection. Reasons could be current case is strong and it could also be because of new passport which I had and she never realized that I have travelled in the past. The point is why bother too much. If you have to get the VISA no one can stop you from getting it and the other way round as well.
Good luck. It is easy don’t stress too much and enjoy,