L1A Individual Approved in MUMBAI after L1A Blanket rejection in Chennai last year
I have been following this very organized website since long time. So now, time to give back to this forum.
Some info regarding my profile:
I have total 13.8 years of experience in Technology Implementation Projects, specifically large scale ERP implementation projects of Oracle Applications/Oracle Cloud.
I had traveled to the US from FEB-2008 to DEC-2010 through L1B Blanket VISA using my previous employer which was one of the largest IT services firm that time. I believe getting US VISA that time was not as tough as what it's today.
After returning back India, I changed my employer and then new employer which is again one of the leading Consulting firms in the globe, very strong presence in US, filed my L1B Individual petition with USCIS in Premium Processing and got it Approved & VISA stamped but unfortunately never got a chance to travel using that. It was Approved from FEB-2014 to JAN-2017. After its expiry, firm decided to file extension but our attorney firm told that it can't be done since I never traveled using my L1B and had L status against that VISA, so they advised to file fresh petition again. So, it was filed in PP again and got denied this time. So, first shock of denial for me. By this time, my experience and roles & responsibilities had changed significantly & also promotion as Manager had happened. So Organization went ahead and L1A Blanket was initiated and I went to Chennai for interview along with my wife and year old son. It was denied in Interview with 221g slip mentioning not Clearly Approvable. This was another denial and big shock for me. After this, I decided to have 6 months gap before going for L1A Individual Petition immediately though Organization was insisting for it.
Experience About L1A Individual
My L1A Individual petition was filed with USCIS on 17th OCT 2018 under Premium Processing & by God's grace didn't receive any RFE. It was Approved within a week's time i.e. on 24th OCT 2018 I had received email from our Attorney firm mentioning my Petition was Approved by USCIS Texas Service Center. I felt a BIG relief after 2 denials mentioned above. Next BIG step was to go for Stamping Interview. Petition Approval was kind of post dated may be because I had mentioned tentative travel plan in it, so it was Approved from DEC-2018.
My L1A Individual Stamping Interview was scheduled on 23rd Jan 2019, 22nd JAN 2019 was OFC. Both in Mumbai since that's where I stay. Most of the people have talked about OFC, so won't write much about it. Mumbai OFC has changed its location recently from previous center to a new location, new location is much closer to US Consulate, just 200 meters away from it. Only me & my wife went for OFC, didn't carry our son this time for OFC.
Stamping Interview was scheduled immediately next day (23rd JAN) at 10:00 AM. This time, I was accompanied by my wife & 2 years old son. We reached at 9:10 AM at Consulate and board over there was showing as "Now Serving 10:00 AM". We didn't rush but, got down from our car, arranged documents and then we went to Consulate. Suggestion if you are going to MUMBAI Consulate & OFC/VAC then you can carry your own car as there is ample pay & park facility available just beside Consulate, 50-70 meters away; from OFC it's 250 meters away. So you can leave all valuable items in your own car here.
After clearing Security in Consulate, we were asked to wait for couple of minutes in a waiting area and then staff there asked us to go to Counter no 39 directly. We went inside the building and there was a BIG queue already lined up. But looking at our baby, we were directly asked to sit near Counter 39 for few minutes, one of the staff personnel took our passports and called our names one after other and one of US Consular officers verified our PPs & Biometrics captured earlier day. Then we were asked to wait at same place for 5 more minutes.
After that staff personnel asked me to have all of our passports & copy of I-797B in hand and asked to go to one of the counters for interview. There was a BIG queue behind us but thanks to your son since we were allowed to skip entire queue and were given Premium treatment. :-) This had happened in Chennai too. So we went to Counter and waited before the line as there was an interview going on, probably L1B or H1B. I could clearly hear the questions and see VO from the line where we were waiting. She was middle aged lady with nice smile on her face and jolly enough to get rid of our pressure. Person's VISA was done and then we went to the window. My heart was beating like anything and was going through all the questions and answers I had prepared for it. Following is Interview communication brief:
Myself & wife greeted to VO, Good Morning Madam..
VO: Good Morning.. Waived to my 2 years old son and tried to talk with him. He was just smiling.
VO: Please provide your passports & I797 copy.
I handed over all 3 passports & copy of I-797B.
VO: Whom do you work for?
VO: What do you do for them?
Me: Current Jobs & responsibilities.
VO: How long have you been working for them?
Me: 7.7 years
VO: What will be your salary in the US?
Me: XXX,XXX USD per annum
VO: How many people do you manage?
Me: In India or in the US?
VO: Both, overall I need to know.
Me: India: 55 & US: 39
VO: In US 13?
Me: Nope, not 13; 39
VO: Oh, ok. got it. Good.
VO: Which client are you working for at the moment?
Me: I manage multiple client engagements as part of my job, so do you need to know my current client I am working for on a project?
VO: Yes please.
Me: Answered name of the client, it's the same which is mentioned in petition supporting documents too.
VO: Give me a few minutes & I will be back. She closed the window from where we hand over the documents & took our passports & I-797B copy inside.
Now, this is where I started worrying as I almost had similar experience in my L1A Blanket in Chennai. My wife asked me to be cool and not to assume/worry anything until we know for sure.
VO came back in a minute's time and handed over me I-797B copy and mentioned:
VO: Please take this back. I took it back and kept it inside my folder.
She was going through something on computer & my heart was pumping BIG time. :-)
VO: I am sorry but it's my computer which is taking so long to respond, so please bear with me. (I read similar experience/response from VO on this site)
Me: No problem madam, I can understand. It's fine.
After a minute's silence.. GOLDEN words came out..
VO: I am Approving your VISAs & you should be getting your passports back within 3-5 business days with VISA. Have a Good Day & waived bye to my son.
We: Thanks a lot madam, you too have a good day. My son waiver her bye sweetly and she enjoyed it and returned it with thanks.
I checked status same day on CEAC website & it was showing Administrative Processing for all 3 applications. But I wasn't worried much because VO clearly told it's Approved & there was no 221g leaflet handed over to us. Next day, status changed to "Issued" and passports were "Ready for Pickup" by same day evening. Never received SMS alert though it was mentioned in DS-160 application.
I went next day to OFC (same building of biometrics) for passport collection. Please ensure to carry photocopy (PP is also fine, they accept that), original ID proofs (DL, PAN, Aadhar) Authority Letter even if you are going to collect for wife they need it.
Overall, a very good experience in stamping interview. I was not much nervous but yes to some extent tensed for sure though this was not the first time I had gone for US VISA stamping interview. But as they say, it's always FIRST time when you go for US VISA stamping interview. :-)
1. Please don't be disappointed if Blanket is rejected in the interview. I think BLANKET has lately very high rejection ratio and probably because within 2-3 minutes it's completely on VOs discretion based on interview & all things might not go well in it. For Individual petition, I believe VO already knows that case has already been thoroughly evaluated and he/she just have to verify the information in it from the candidate. So there is always a next chance for going for Individual petition.
2. Prepare your supporting documents very well for Individual petition and be aware of what's going on inside it if you have Attorneys doing it for you based on information provided by you.
3. Prepare stamping interview very well even though Individual petition is Approved. You need to be aware of your I-129S inside out.
4. Practice mock sessions. If there is no such facility in organization then do it with your family.
5. Be aware of what you write in DS-160. It should be aligned with the information in your I-797B, I-129S & Supporting docs provided for petition approval. E.g. Salary, jobs & responsibilities etc.
6. Be confident during interview & please ensure to make eye contact with VO clearly throughout interview.
7. Please ensure to have some impactful summary statements about your jobs and responsibilities. E.g. for L1A, to demonstrate Managerial & Hire/Fire authority. And again, it should be aligned with your earlier supporting documents.
I know this is a BIG experience but wanted to ensure I capture almost all the details. :-) If you need any other details then please don't hesitate to contact me. I will respond as soon as I can.
Thanks & all the best...!!!