Very Important -
Contact Mr. Salvador - very credible, is a US Citizen so knows importance of safety and Best Western is a very good hotel to stay. The room charge is $93 and all the logistics is complimentary.
US Cell number - 956-545-5255 (Yes he lives in Brownsville, TX)
Email - email@example.com
Venue - Matamoros US Consulate
ASC - Appointment March 25th 3.30 PM
Consulate Interview - March 26th 10.00 AM
Trip booked - Atlanta to Brownsville TX (United Airlines)
Days - 2 day trip (BIG MISTAKE, Please consider at least a 3 day trip)
Day 1 - Took early morning flight to Brownsville via Houston. Reached Brownsville at 10.00 am and took a cab to the Bus Station ($19.00). Mr. Salvador picked me up from the big building at the bus station and took me to his Best Western Hotel in Matamoros. I checked in, had a 4th floor room and got the AT&T Signal (Remember you have to turn your phone off and on to get ATT signal in your room). At 12.30 pm Salvador's Accountant took us to the ASC interview. You need to carry your confirmation letter with the barcode, I 797 and passport. Once you enter the office there is a security check, then a person checks your documents and verifies your appointment and send you in for fingerprints. The process is smooth and takes 10 minutes max. The accountant waited for me and once I was done he took me back to the hotel. I had some lunch at the BW restaurant and worked from my room rest of the day (Good food and internet)
Day 2 - As per the previous blogs I had read I went to the interview at 8 .30 am regardless of my time which was 10.00 am which did not work. I had to wait till 10.00 am to be called in as they call in in batches of 30 minutes. Mr. Salvador himself took me to the interview and dropped me there. Make sure not to take any electronics to any of the visa offices. At 10.00 I was called in, there was a security check at the gate, then a person verified my passport i797 and appointment letter (Same one I took to ASC) and gave me a token number which was immediately called on one of the right hand side counters in the main room. Remember this is not the interview, here the person will only verify the information he is going to print on your visa like address and job title. Make sure you give the right spelling here. Then he will give you the same token number and ask you to wait for one of the left hand side counters. My number was called immediately and this was my Visa interview
Me - Good morning officer
VO - Good morning
Me - How are you doing?
VO - Fine, Thank you
VO - Give me your documents (Passport, I797 & Employment letter (offer letter))
Me - Gave the Docs
VO - H1B Renewal
Me - Yes
VO - Same Employer?
Me - No Changed employer
VO - Last 3 years w2
Me - Gave
VO - Why Change of employer
Me - Better opportunity
VO - Ah, I can see in your W2 significant improvement
Me - Yes, Which was also one of the reason
VO - What is your job title?
Me - Answered
VO - What are your job responsibilities?
Me - Answered (Be very specific)
VO - What were you job responsibilities at your old company?
Me - Answered (Be very specific)
VO - Where did you do your bachelors?
Me - Answered
VO - Where did you do your Masters?
Me - Answered, US
VO - Show me your Degree certificate
Me - Showed
VO - Alright, Your Visa has been approved come and collect your passport at 3.30 PM
Me - Thank You
It took 10 minutes to complete the process and I called the hotel to pick me up from the Gas Station across. Keep some Mexican pesos with you, you can get it at the hotel reception. The accountant came in like 10 minutes picked me and took me to hotel. Now the tough part begins, as I mentioned I booked the return flight same day as my interview I knew it was going to be a crunch situation. I had lunch, packed my stuff, checked out and asked the accountant to take me to the passport collection at 2.00 pm in the hope of getting the passport early and making for the 5.00 pm flight. However, I did not get the passport till 4.00 pm. Still, I did not give up and asked the accountant to drop me at the border as I knew the border was like 2 minutes from the Consulate. This is important, you will see a long queue of people waiting to cross border, don’t bother to go there it’s not for us you need to take a side path(vacant) parallel to that queue and go to the i94 office. Keep some quarters handy as there is a paid crossing station there. Keep walking till you see the office. Once you enter the office you have to give your passport and I 797 to the officer. I requested him that I had a flight to catch it was 4.30 pm that time and hopes were diminishing. He (Great guy, God Bless him) took like 10 minutes to get the i94 ready, you have to pay $6.00 for i94. Then I was out at like 4.50 pm and took the cab back to the airport ($19.00). I entered the airport at 5.00 pm, I knew the Airport was small and I could make it even if I have 10 minutes, luckily for me the flight was delayed by 10 minutes and I barely made it. You have to keep your passport handy as the officer at the airport will ask you for that. I would advise to make a 3 day trip and cross the border on the day you get the passport itself. There are few good hotels near the Brownsville airport which was my back up plan in case I missed the fight.
In all, it wasn’t a bad experience looking at how skeptical I was initially for this trip. I hope this helps, Have a nice trip, Good Luck and be safe!