Indian nationals currently living in India who wish to receive an immigrant or non-immigrant visa to travel to the United States typically must attend an interview at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate. These interviews are conducted in order to determine applicant’s eligibility to receive a visa prior to traveling to the United States. As such, being prepared to answer whatever questions are posed by the Immigration Officer in addition to presenting documentation to support any answers provided by the applicant are the keys to a successful interview.
Immigration Officers have indicated that they are typically more interested in what the applicants say over what is reported on the documents that are submitted in support of their applications. Despite this emphasis on applicant responses during the interview, it is essential that the applicant has documentation to support what is said during the interview to corroborate the statements made. Applicants should be completely prepared to answer any questions posed by an Immigration Officer in a clear and articulate manner and be able to put forth evidence to substantiate a claim.
General Interviewing Tips
In general, applicants must be able to confidently answer questions about why they are traveling to the United States, their intent to abide by the terms of the visa and their overall plans while in the United States. For nonimmigrant visas, Immigration Officers will likely ask questions that will evoke from the applicant any intent to permanently reside in the United States. If the Immigration Officer believes you intend to permanently remain in the United States, the nonimmigrant visa will be denied. For immigrant visa applicants, Immigration Officers will ask questions to verify the truthfulness of applicant statements.
Some questions asked by the Immigration Officer might be: “What are your ties to India” (social, economic, family)?”; “Why did you choose the particular university?”; and “How did you and your spouse meet?” In addition, Immigration Officers may pose hypothetical “what if” questions, such as: “What would you do if you won the lottery in the United States?” or even “What if a U.S. citizen proposes marriage to you?” Finally, applicants for work visas should be able to talk about the specifics of job duties in the United States. The applicant’s ability to clearly, confidently and consistently answer these types of questions will be the ultimate deciding factor in the approval or denial of a visa.
Although these questions might begin to feel uncomfortable and accusatorial, the U.S. Embassy and consular offices in India have indicated that they are working on making the interview process less adversarial in nature.
The U.S. Consulate only processes non-immigrant visa (NIV) cases and is the only U.S. Consulate in India to process Blanket L petitions. Chennai process 120-140 interviews per day and 25 percent of all H and L visas worldwide are processed there. Interviews are conducted between 8: a.m. and noon and take approximately 3 minutes, but L-1 and H-1B may take longer. It is the consulate’s goal that the whole process takes less than one hour, from the time the applicant arrives, receives the token indicating their place in line, and has their biometric information verified to the end of the interview process and the final decision rendered in the case. The consulate reported that a “vast majority” of the cases that pass through are approved.
In addition, guidance has been offered regarding what specific types of questions are asked pertaining to L-1B cases. L-1B applications should be prepared to answer questions about the petitioning company, the job title and specific duties, and the claimed “specialized knowledge.” It is essential that L-1B beneficiaries are able to adequately articulate their specialized knowledge because if the applicant is not able to do so, it may appear that he or she does not have the requisite specialized knowledge.
The U.S. Embassy in New Delhi processes both non-immigrant (NIV) and immigrant visas (IV). The Immigration Officers in New Delhi collectively process about 600-800 applications per day in the “off season” and up to 1,000 cases during the summer months. The overall rate of approval at the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi is about 75 percent.
As of November 2013, it takes approximately 3-4 days to schedule an interview for an NIV. The average wait time for a nonimmigrant visa at the Consular Office in New Delhi is about 38 minutes, including a 2-4 minute interview. 97 percent of applicants receive a decision the same day of the interview. 90 percent of H-1B visa cases are approved and the approval rate for student visas has increased. If approved, it takes approximately 1-3 days to receive an NIV.
The Immigration Officers at the Embassy in New Delhi process applications for immigrant visas between 8:00 and 11:00 a.m. The whole process takes about one hour. Since the IV division is not backlogged, applicants for IVs can typically schedule their interview the same day USCIS receives the petition or application.
The U.S. Consulate in Mumbai processes third highest number of F-1 cases in the world and has seen an increase in F-1 applications and approvals. The average wait time prior to being interviewed is 45 minutes. It may take 2-5 days to receive an H-1B stamp. It may take 3 days to schedule an interview and 2 days to process NIVs.
Interviews for IV applications and petitions are conducted between 8:00 and 11:00 a.m. The consulate is working towards having the total interview process time at 90 minutes.
Being prepared for the visa interview is essential for being approved for a visa. The Law Firm of Shihab & Associates has assisted numerous applicants in preparing for their consular interviews, ensuring that applicants feel confident and ready for their interview. Contact us today for assistance with your consular interview process.