04/13/2016 16:42 PM
Let me begin by saying thanks to this wonderful community, which has been a huge help in getting the insight into what really happens and helping prepare for the overall process.
I applied for L1-A (Individual). I immediately took help of the experiences shared by the community members here to prepare myself. I earlier applied for L1-A Individual in Oct 2013 but my petition received RFE and subsequently the petition itself was denied. I once again initiated L1-A Individual in September 2015 under normal processing. This time too, I got RFE. I responded and this time my petition got approved.
Before I narrate my experience, here’s what I learned during the process:
1. RFE or Denial Has ‘NO’ Impact– If you receive RFE or denial, it does not impact your current petition. During the time I was waiting in the queue for visa interview, I heard the Visa Officer saying to a candidate, “Your visa will keep getting rejected unless something changes in your application which makes you qualify for this visa category.” What this tells is RFE or denial simply means that our application is not satisfying the criteria for the visa and there are still some unanswered questions. Prepare your application well and chances of getting through will go high for sure (I learnt this by two RFEs on two petitions ).
2. Personal Appearance – I think it is important that you wear nice cloths to create good impression. However, it is not a mandatory criteria. I saw guys wearing jeans and T-Shirts and they got the L1-B visa. For L1-A, it is advisable to wear formal cloths. Suits and Tie are not required. I only saw one guy, out of around 100 people, wearing a suit.
3. Politeness – It is important that you be polite and greet the visa officer. Again it is not mandatory, but politeness and courteousness shows professionalism which further strengthen your chances.
4. Do not Argue – I saw a female and a male arguing with visa officer (one for study visa and other for work visa) when they were told visa if denied. The response visa officer gave them was simple “you do not qualify for this type of visa yet, unless something changes in your application, your visa will not be approved.”
5. Prepare Well - I cannot empathize on this point more. It is perhaps the most important point to remember. If you are prepared well, it will show in your answer as you will be to the point and right on target. Else, you will fumble and give longish answers. One guy applying for L1-B was asked “what is interest rate”. The candidate was shocked I guess to hear this and asked to repeat the question. “What do you understand by the interest rate”, asked the visa officer. The guy could not answer properly. Needless to say, his visa was rejected.
6. Visa Officer’s Mood or Personality – The outcome of visa interview is not dependent on visa officer’s mood or personality. At counter 21, there was a young visa officer who looked quite stern, did not laugh, and denied the visas for at least couple of candidates. However, when he was greeted, he did greet back. I saw a change in behavior when a guy prepared well spoke politely and appeared relaxed and well prepared. Visa officer might not look at you the whole time, or he/she may not give you positive impression, but do not get flustered and instead keep giving answers. They may be verifying your answers with the information on their screen. That visa officer did approve a few visas while I was there.
7. Phones Are Allowed in OFC Not in Consulate - Mobile phones are allowed in OFC when you go for biometrics. However, you would need to switch-off your phones when you enter. For PAI in consulate, mobile phones and even water bottles are not allowed. It is best to keep them in the hotel or guesthouse if you are staying close by. If not, you can deposit at private vendor outside the consulate.
8. Make Use of Google Maps: The Ola I booked to go to OFC did not know the location very well. Google map came to my rescue and I was giving direction to the driver based on the map. For PAI at the consulate, I hand drew the map on a piece of paper in case of issues, but this time the Ola driver knew the location so we reached without fuss.
1. At OFC:
a. Our appointment was at 3:00 PM on 6 April, 2016. We reached there half-an-hour early and we were let in immediately.
b. We went to the ground floor by stairs and into a large room where two set of queues was there. One queue was for passport collection and other was for verification of documents (Appointment letter, DS-160 and Passport).
c. After verification at the ground floor, went to the first floor. From that point onwards, there was one queue.
d. Next, they put a sticker at the backside of my passport.
e. Next, we were given two different token numbers (one for me and one for my wife) for the biometric and asked to proceed in a large room where we sat and waited our turn to come by looking at my token and counter number.
f. Once my token number was flashed, went to counter and completed my biometric and photograph as required by the procedure.
2. At Consulate:
a. Our appointment was at 11:00 AM on 7 April. 2016. We reached there by 10:30 AM and were let in immediately by the guy who looked at our appointment letter as well as in the tab that he was carrying.
b. Next was security check and we were let in with two folders that I was carrying, one for visa related document and other for education and experience document, just in case required.
c. Inside I was asked if my L1-A petition is Blanket or individual. When I told it is individual, he asked me to move to the next building.
d. There was a long queue and it took time before we reached inside the building. It was quite hot outside the building and I was happy that I did not wear suit or tie.
e. Inside the building there was one general queue and other queue was for L1 Blanket to pay the fee.
f. We were in a queue for half and hour and it was even more hotter inside. Then our turn came up.
g. We were directed to counter number 15 where a dark complexioned US national greeted us. He was very polite and smiled during our interactions and biometric scans to match the record at OFC. We thanked him after the verification was completed.
h. Next, we were directed to counter number 17 where an Indian lady was there to verify further. We greeted her and she greeted us back. After she was done, we thanked her and she gave us a smile, perhaps not expecting us to thank her.
i. We were then directed for the interview. I could see at least 100 people there waiting before us. During the time of my wait, I could not help overhear some interviews and their responses. I got to know guy at counter 21 was stern and rejecting many candidates and I was hoping that I don’t get to face the guy.
j. After a while our turn came at counter 23. The officer was around 45-50 years of age and was appearing like a no-nonsense guy. He was courteous and smiled during our conversation. I thanked him after the interview was over. By the time I came out, it was 12:45 PM!
Following is the interview that took place:
VO: Good Morning! May I have your passports please!
Me: Good Morning to you too! (Gave the passports)
VO: Are you applying for L1-A?
Me: Yes, I am applying for L1-A Individual.
VO: Who is the primary applicant?
Me: I am the primary applicant, (said my name)!
VO: Which organization you work for?
Me: I work for XXX.
VO: For how long you are working for XXX?
Me: I have recently completed 4.5 years.
VO: You will be working from your company office or client location?
Me: I will be working from the client location.
VO: Who is your client?
Me: My client is YYY.
VO: Where is your client located?
Me: My client is located in Santa Clara, California.
VO: What is your US salary?
Me. It will be $$$$$$ US dollars per annum.
(Ah this time, he started bundling our passports in a rubber band)
VO: And ma’am, what is your qualification?
My Wife: It is B. Sc. Biology.
VO: Do you have kids?
My wife: No, we do not have kids yet.
VO: Thank you, sir, I am approving your visa and keeping your passport.
Me: Thank you so much! I have a question to ask!
VO: Please tell me
Me: Do you need to take copy of my I-797B
VO: No, I have all the information in my system!
Me and my wife: Thank you so much sir!
That was it guys! I have written based on my experience and understanding. This may not be the understanding of everyone.
I wish you all the best for your petitions and interviews!