This is going to be a long post but I'm hoping to answer some questions I personally had before the interview and some others that I saw on this forum.
Originally had the appointment scheduled for April 21st (Biometrics) and 22nd (Interview). On the morning of the 21st I received an email that all visa appointments were canceled starting April 22nd. I was extremely disappointed since I had already flown into Chennai and had waited months for the previous Presidential Ban to end. I went for the Biometrics appointment anyway and completed that.
Looked for appointments in the few days and was able to get an appointment for May 25th. However, that also got cancelled eventually. Rescheduled again for August. Since then I've been checking the website at least 1-2 times a day to see if any earlier appointments open up. Got lucky last week and saw an appointment for July 12th morning. Booked the appointment and immediately emailed my employer and attorney to prepare an NIE support letter.
At the Appointment:
My appointment was at 9.30 and I probably got there are 9.20. The 9.30 line had already started forming but we eventually still waited for approximately 45min/1 hr before going in. As everyone else has mentioned here there is no point getting there early. There are tons of student interviews happening and the lines are really long. Unfortunately until you get inside there is no separate line for other visa categories, though I did see security pulling out families and sending them directly in.
Once you are inside, the the staff member will ask L1 applicants to sort their documents in the order 3 sets of I129, I797 and your passport and staple them. You will then be sent to the next building for payment of Fraud detection fee and the interview. In the next building, you will be sent to window 32 for fee payment. Once that is complete, another staff member will either ask you to wait for the next available window. Again, most of the interviews happening around were student. I wanted to avoid listening to other interviews but it's almost impossible. There were two L1B blanket interviews just before me and they both were approved.
VO: Good morning
Me: Good morning
VO: So you are here for a L1A blanket interview
VO: What will be your pay
Me: 1XX,000 + Bonus + Stock Options
VO: How many years have you worked with your employer
Me: Close to 7 yrs
VO: How many years have you worked in the US
Me: 6 years (I was previously on H1) (I was also on F1+ F1 OPT before that but the VO did not ask anything about that)
VO: So essentially you've been in India for about 1.5 years now
VO: What will be your title?
Me: Director of XYZ (This was a really long title specific to my group in the company and the VO was confused)
VO: Sorry, can you say that again
Me: Repeated slowly. Said it is similar to Director of ABC
VO: Why do you need to be in the US?
Me: I need to work with my clients for XYZ reasons (not an end client relationship) and also lead a team that is all based in the US
VO: How many direct reports do you have
Me: 4, and their titles
VO: Any indirect reports?
VO: When do you plan to travel
Me: End of the month (I did not have any tickets booked). At this point I felt he the visa officer was about to approve my application if he was asking about my travel dates
VO: Were you born in India
VO: Do you work with data that cannot be accessed outside of US
Me: No, while I do work with some PII data I'm not restricted from accessing it outside of the US
After this the VO took a what seemed like a long time to type something. I thought that the last question would make the VO deny my visa or NIE.
After a min, the VO said your visa is approved and handed me 2 stamped copies of the I129.
I told him that I had a support letter from my organization for NIE. He said that he already applied for my NIE but the decision wasn't his. But he was fairly confident given my application that it would be approved.
I just got my passport today through BlueDart (less than 48 hours after my interview) with the Stamped visa and it has an annotation : 'NIE under all PPS for novel Coronavirus'. There was also a slip that mentioned the NIE is valid for 12 months and allows multiple entries.
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