Thursday, April 9, 2015

B1 visa interview

This blog shares my experience on B1 US visa process. By no means this is the de-facto guide to attend the B1 visa interview. I wanted to share my experience as there are so much hype around getting a US B1 visa.

When my friends came to know that I have this business visit to the US, everyone was looking at me like I have achieved something which was not achievable. I was thinking what is so great about a visit to US. Till date I am not able to figure what is such a big deal. I feel it has to do with the hype created by movies and people. It could also be to do with the fact that the world thinks US as the most advanced nation in the world. Whatever the reason is, I never felt it as a big thing. For me it was the same even if I had travelled to any other country. I remember a year back, there was talk going on in the company for a possible visit to the UK. People never showed these kind of emotions at that time. Weird.

Once people knew about my travel plans, there were all sorts of advice given to me. The first set of advice was about the B1 visa application and process. Some said take the help of a consultant so that you don’t screw up things. Some said you should schedule the visa interview in the morning. There is high chances that you will get the visa. The reason was that the visa officer will be in good mood as he wouldn’t have met many applicants. Then there was advice on how you need to dress and present yourself. How the documents needs to be arranged? How early you should reach the consulate? You should not talk this talk that. There were lot and lot of suggestions. In short people made me feel that this was some sort of a battle. People made me feel that getting a B1 visa for US is mission impossible.

I went ahead and did some googling on B1 visa process and filled the visa application myself. The online application had lots of questions and took time. But was not difficult. At least not as difficult as the 10th exams we have. Then it was time for the visa interview. The interview was split into 2 days. First day was the bio-metric and photo session. The second day was the actual visa interview. I have spend nearly eight years in Chennai, so I was aware of the place and how people who come early are made to stand in the sultry heat of Chennai. As highlighted in the visa confirmation, I reached exactly 15 minutes before the schedule time. I didn’t carry any mobile or any other objects except a file with documents. My security check was over in a jiffy.

After the security check I was asked to go to a counter (all counter looks like a bank teller’s counter, only difference every officer was separated from each other with concrete separators.). The lady in the counter verified me through bio-metrics and asked to join the queue. Saw my token number flashing on the flat screen. I ran towards the counter. There was a guy already going through  interview, so I waited for my turn. He literally pissed off the lady. He took a long time and all of his answers were not related to the questions being asked. Consulate officer was trying her best to help him. The guy was applying for the second time for B1. It seems his first attempt was rejected. I can make out  from the tone of her voice that the officer was getting frustrated. After all the hype created by my friends here I am, standing behind a guy who is giving all sorts of unrelated answers to some straight forward questions. I was damn sure my application would be rejected. Finally the lady officer asked the guy to wait in the waiting area.

My turn, I went with a heavy heart towards the counter. All hopes lost, I said a warm hi. The lady officer responded with a warmer hi. She informed that “she will be right back” and left her seat. I was left wondering what next? In that short time she was away from her seat, all sorts of thought came to my mind. It was like eternity. Here she comes, with warm smile on her face. My guess is that most probably the lady officer would have gone to a room for venting out her frustration. She probably would have vented out her frustration and came back.

The lady officer asks me the passport which I have already placed in the provision provided. She looks at my passport and asks a slew of questions. The questions are as follows.

  • What is the purpose of your visit?
    • My answer: for a series of business meeting and technical training.
  • For how long?
    • My answer: 2 weeks
  • Are you Married?
    • My answer: yes
  • Can I see your invitation letter?
    • I pull out the papers from the file and tried to remove the paper clip. It slips from hand and flies in the air. I was thinking oh shit, not this. In front of my eyes I could see the clip flying high, somehow I catch the flying paper clip. Took a deep breath (sigh of relief), took out the invitation letter and handed over to the officer.
  • Is XYZ company your client?
    • My Answer: yes
  • How long are you working for your current company?
    • My answer: 4 years and 9months
  • Are you going to work there?
    • My answer: no

Then came the sweet words from the lady officer.

That’s all, and your visa is approved.

I said thank you and wished her “have a great day”. She wished me the same.

There was me standing baffled. That’s it? This was pretty easy. The hype created by my friends and others was such huge, I was left stunned. Ok, it’s real. I better move my butt so that the lady doesn’t have a second thought. I left the place with a big grin on my face. It was as if I have achieved something which was out of this world. I was floating in air. Still to date I don’t remember how I reached back the hotel?? How much I paid the auto driver?

I think most of the suggestions which came to my way was due to the fact that people highlight rejections more than the approvals. The time I spend waiting at the interview counter, I sort of figured out how to attend the interview. It’s pretty straight forward. Give crisp and concise answers, preferably in one sentence. Our attitude of explaining too much stuff can screw your chance of getting a visa. So be confidant and answer to the point. Also go through few of the questions available online to know how to answer in one sentence. I don’t think getting a B1 visa is very difficult as others project it. Do your homework and go with a positive attitude. Keep things organised and take all the documents. It’s safe to ask friends and also do an online research on what documents you need to carry. Keep them organised, so that you don’t fumble when asked for some document. I feel the ground rule is don’t waste the visa officer’s time. There are lot’s of people in queue and it’s hectic. If you take too much time in silly things like finding a document, you are eating up other’s time. So be prepared, be organised and be crisp and clear. If you are not able to understand any question ask them. From the little amount of time spent in the consulate, I can make out the officers are very friendly. They try to help and are very cordial, unless we don’t eat their head.

My 2 cents for attending visa interview are these.

  • Be confident. Don’t make a fool out of yourselves. Just think you have passed bigger challenges than these. Remember the 10th standard exam I was talking about?
  • Be honest. Don’t lie and give rise to suspicion.
  • Don’t show your desperation. The world doesn’t end tomorrow. If rejected, learn what mistakes you made and apply one more time.
  • Be concise and answer to the point. Don’t try to explain too much. By doing so you are eating other’s time.
  • Be organised. Keep your papers in order. If asked for some document, don’t fumble. If you have organised the documents properly and know where docs are, it will help you find them fast. Always try to do a dry run of where the documents are. Again, remember if you delay you are slowing down the process.
  • Don’t take mobile, bags, backpacks and other metal objects. No water bottle or juice is allowed. You can have your purse. Lady's hand bags are not allowed.
  • Last but the most important, spend time in reading the information provided on visa application website.

Hope this helps. As I said this is my personal experience. This may help or may not. So please don’t come to me saying I read your blog and did everything and still didn’t get my visa. As the consulate website says, everyone applying for US visa is considered a prospective immigrant. Every visa officer will consider you to be a prospective immigrant and it’s your responsibility to prove that you will not immigrate.

Best of luck.

86 comments:

  1. Thanks brother, i have Visa B1 Interview next week and i was a bit nervous, but having read this am now quite optmistic

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Great to hear that. I am happy that I can make you happy.

      Delete
    2. Sandeep I have B1 interview scheduled next week and just read your blog it is very informative. I have a question.. i have visited Kenya some 6 years back for around 1 month ( Visa on arrival) so will there be any question that why for 1 month I was there ?

      Delete
    3. Hi Raju Kumar,
      Yes there may be questions but again it depends. Just share the reason why you visited Kenya, there is nothing wrong in it. As long as you don't hide things it should be fine. Again I would like to re-iterate, it is all about how transparent you are. If you try to hide information then that would affect your chances of getting visa. So be cool and share the reason for your visit to Kenya.

      Delete
  2. Finally i Got my BI Visa, thanks for the article that gave me so much confidence and hope

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Great to hear that you got the Visa and my blog was of some help. Best wishes for your future.

      Delete
  3. hi..sir coming 4th finger print & 11th interview ...any tips bro

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Vinoth,
      I have mentioned all the generic tips in the blog. Keep your cool and take it easy. Every interview is different and how you handle is what it boils down to. Best of luck.

      Delete
  4. Hi. I have mentioned 45 days of visit. Is that going to affect by any means?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am not sure. It may or may not have an impact. Business visits are purely for getting business and logically one will not spend 45 days to get business. You should have strong argument in favor of your stay for 45 days.

      Delete
  5. What is insurance form sir when you apply for B-1 visa form?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am not sure about that. Is there a insurance form? I don't remember.

      Delete
  6. I'm going for the interview on January 3 and I'm having a new passport, hope that will not stop then not to give visa

    ReplyDelete
  7. I have a rejected case earlier.
    What should I answer when they ask why was it rejected last time .

    Note : the time gap between two attempts is more than six months.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If you know the reason I would say you need to tell the real reason. If not tell them what u did to find the real reason.

      Delete
  8. Hi Sandeep,

    Approximately how much time did it take to finish the process completely.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I have my B1 interview tomorrow. I have been working in the company for just 2months only and the company want me to travel to US to meet and greet the US counterparts. Will there be an issue as it's just 2months I have with the company and I have a total work experience of nearing 6years.

    ReplyDelete
  10. My B1 visa reject last month and going again next month.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Can you let know the questions asked and also at which location did you apply?
      I was also rejected my visa on 24th May.
      Also since you might have reapplied can you share the experience?
      Thanks

      Delete
  11. Trust me, counselor are there to approve your VISA until you say something different which is not written in your DS160. Be attentive while filling up DS160. They are very much experienced and we can't just fool them.We have to be honest and confident to convince your purpose of visit. Don't use the words most probably , might be. My first B1 had been rejected. I had mentioned in dS160 that I will stay in US for 3 weeks but when VO asked me I said 4 weeks as it was written in my invitation letter.I had everything corrected and went for 2nd interview and VISA got approved. I am in USA now for the business trip. Be confident and honest.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Just wanted to ask - what should be our reply when they ask "What do you do in your company?" - Should there be any mention of technical terms ? Can you let know what you had answered if you were asked or Advice on same?. Also while re-applying are there any points that i should keep in mind?

      Delete
    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
    3. Don't be too technical, try to put those words in business aspects. They don't understand terms like oracle 11.2.0.4 version.If you are going to attend a training some technical stuffs, try to put business side of it. They don't give exact reason of rejection. You need to recall what went wrong in your last interview. The VO didn't even ask the reason for rejection during second time. Prepare well and be confident.

      Delete
    4. this is actually a valuable point. This what i did wrong 2 times.

      Delete
  12. I had applied for b1 visa for business meetings and technical training for a duration of 85 days.VO asked me the purpose of travel,invite and covering letters given by company which I showed. Then he asked me about the training. I explained properly what kind of training it was going to be. The VO was a pleasant person and I was not nervous at all. But my visa got denied.VO said I need to ask my company to give some other reason for the visa. Please advise what could have gone wrong.

    ReplyDelete
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