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Successful CP at Chennai!

When I was waiting for CP, I got benefited a lot by the messages posted here. I thought I will return the favor by posting my experience here. I have tried to capture all things I have remembered. Sorry, I will not have time to answer specific questions.

Here is our experience during the green card process at Chennai.

Case Details:

EB2 Category, Country of birth India, Country of citizenship Singapore
Labor Cert Application : Apr 23, 1998
I-140 Filed on: Mar 30, 1999
I-140 Approval Date : April 1st, 2000
Packet 3 Sent to Chennai: June 15th, 2000
Interview Date: August 23, 2000

The interview date was announced on Chennai web site around July 18th. The actual letter from embassy informing us about the appointment reached us in US on August 2nd. We called up Surima Medical from USA and fixed an appointment for August 9th morning. They asked us if we have appointment letter.

Medical Checkup

Went to Surima medical at 9 AM. The whole process took about 2.5 hours. The shots that we had taken US were considered invalid by the doctor (Suresh rao). So we had to take the shots again. My wife got a lady doctor to do the physical check up. X-Rays were taken as well. It takes 3 working days for the report to come. We asked our uncle in Madras to collect them and returned to Bangalore. The total cost for I and my wife was Rs. 7200.

Immigration Interview

Went there by 7.30 AM even though our appointment was at 8 AM. Since we had appointment letter, there is no need to wait in line. The security guards there act very smart. Initially they refused to allow us in because we had Singapore passport. When we reminded him again about our appointment letter where embassy had invited us, security guys could not say much. Then one of them moved on to our baby's diaper bag. He said we can not carry the diaper bag inside. He said we can keep the bag with tea shop fellow nearby. When we repeatedly explained why a baby would need diapers and milk for the 4 hours we stay there, he finally relented and let us in with the diaper bag.

Do not carry any bags at all. Put all your documents in plastic covers (One that you get in india when you buy sarees for example). They do not seem to have any problem with such plastic covers.
Many other guards along the way will see your appointment letter and passport and finally direct you to sit inside the office. All immigration visa seekers were asked to sit on the left most column in a 3 column of chairs. The final lady who did security check asked me to switch on my organizer and off just to make sure. It was about 7.50 when sat there in the office.

At 8.30 AM, folks were called to submit the documents one by one. An Indian guy collects the documents. As long as you have all docs mentioned in their letter you are OK. He asks you to pay the immigration visa fee at counter 1. He also gives you a token number. This token number will decide how soon will you get out of the embassy that morning. The guy was real nice. He even asked my wife go back immediately after signing because she was carrying the baby.

At 9.30 AM, all the names are called and people are collected and taken outside the building. We all wait for about 10 minutes. A white lady shows up, briefly explains the procedure and asks us to take a oath that all things that we say are true.

At 10 AM, people are called one by one in random order. We were called at 11.00 AM. Another Indian lady asked more questions about our papers. The company name change was an issue and she asked me to show some documentation about the name change.

At 12 AM, folks are called based on token number and advised to pay issuance fee. We were asked to come back in the afternoon to collect the passports. The job was done!

While you are waiting in the room, you can see some drinks, food, water etc. but there is no body to vend them to you. The only lady vendor they have is busy serving non immigrant folks outside the building. So if you need any thing, you must go outside the building (still inside the consulate premise) and get the food. They charge Rs 15 for water. Rs 30 for coke etc.

At 4 PM, enter the embassy through same security gate as in the morning. In our case, we were made to wait till 5.05 PM. It is not necessary for all in the family to go. Only one is sufficient. Make sure to take your receipt for visa issuance fee. They give your passports back with your non immigrant visa cancelled. They also give you sealed brown envelope that you are supposed to take with you to US immigration.

Arrival in USA

Come through "New Immigrants" line. There will be hardly anybody in that line. They take your brown envelope, open it up, take your thumb print. They also take your passport somewhere else to do some checks. Finally, they will put a 551 stamp on your passport which is valid for 1 year. The guy was very nice to us. He said that real green card will arrive in 2 to 3 months. He also asked us to visit social security department. He asked us how long the whole process took us and told that Consular processing is really the way to go and tell my friends to do the same as that is much faster.
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