06/23/2014 01:13 AM
I work for a US employer and this was the first time i had to plan for my H1B stamping from scratch. Earlier i was working for a Indian IT company and they do most of the leg work for your stamping.
Guidelines given on this website immihelp are useful and following are few tips or updates from my side:
Step 1: Fill form DS160 - basically it has personal, employment and educational information. This form should be filled for each applicant who is travelling with you. I had to fill two separate forms one for myself and one for my spouse. After you submit the form you will see the final confirmation page. The confirmation page has information like you Name, Passport details, location of Consulate/OFC and confirmation number.
Step 2: Create a login on ustraveldocs website to pay for stamping fees and take an appointment
a. Payment of fees: $190 for each applicant H1B or H4. I used online fund transfer option which is very easy to use. Basically on ustraveldocs website follow the steps like add your DS160 confirmation number. I was going for stamping along with my spouse, add your spouse information as well under family member link, including her/his DS160 confirmation number.
On payment page you will see a BOFA India account number. Add this account number as a payee in your Indian bank account. Total fees paid was $190*2*conversion rate at one go since i had two applicants.
b. Book your appointment: You need to book for two days. Day 1 : Finger printing and Photographs(you do not need to bring any photo)
Day 2: Actual VISA interview
Step 3: Day 1 OFC BKC: My appointment was for 8:30 AM(this is the first batch of people the let inside). We reached the center at 7:45 AM. There was not a huge Queue outside, around-15 people were ahead of us. The let us in at 8:15 AM, it took us around 10 minutes to complete this process. We were out by 8:30 AM :)
Step 4: Day 2 US Consulate BKC Mumbai: My appointment was for 8:00 AM (again the first batch). We reached around 7:30 AM and were let inside immediately. After we passed through security, we entered a shaded area with seats. To my surprise there were around 50 people already inside and we joined one of the parallel queues.
After a wait for 30 mins in the shaded area we were let inside the actual consulate. There is no token system here, you form one single queue and wait with 50 other people for your turn. We had to stand for 1+ hour in this queue which was unpleasant and tiring. First they verify your passport and you pass through finger printing again. After that you are part of one Queue, at the end of this queue there are multiple windows. Actual VISA interview took 2 mins, the officer asked basic questions like employer and when we were married, etc. Our VISA was approved and i was directed to one more window to submit employment and education documents(standard process for all H applicants). I handed over Employment letter current and past and education transcripts(you can also give degree certificate), the officer made photo copies and we were all set.
My tip to others is to take a late appointment like 10AM, for 8 AM appointment they pretty much let everyone inside who showed up at the consulate. People with 8:30 AM and 9:00 AM were also inside with us. When we were all done we could see only 10 people inside the shaded area, and all the crowd was pretty much dealt by the VISA officers who work tirelessly.
Also for people applying for tourist VISA - please select regional languages if you do not understand English. It was really painfully to see the VISA officers getting irritated with people who could not answer simple questions.
Step 5: Collect VISA from OFC center, you will receive a email that your passport is ready. I got my email on the same day, i collected my passport the next day!!