Tech Dreams

H1 Visa interview tips–What you must know before attending the interview?

USA’s H1 visa allows highly qualified professionals from other countries to work in America. Many IT professionals in India aspire to go to USA on H1 and work for their clients. Recently I had a chance to study H1 visa process to help one of my friends and I would like to share what I learned.

With the assumption that your H1 petition is approved and you got an interview scheduled at US Embassy for your visa stamping, here are tips you must know before attending the interview

Dress Code – Formals

be_in_formalsSay no to casuals or any fancy dress when you attend the interview. It’s not a party or friends home you are visiting. Consider H1 Visa interview as your job interview and dress up in formals. There is no option B for your, you must be in formals.

A plain formal shirt with a matching pant is suggested for men. Tie and Suit would not be required, but if you are a professional at management level you can consider wearing suit. Women can wear either formal Salwar or formal pant-shirt. Avoid heavy jewellery, wear what is must as per your tradition or culture.

Body Language -  Smile on your face

smileYour body language reflects what you are and what’s going on in your mind. Don’t be nervous or restless, be relaxed and wear a beautiful smile on your face. A smile is a curve that sets everything straight.

When you are called for the interview, greet the interviewer with a beautiful smile. Say Good Morning/Afternoon/Evening depending on time you are visiting them. Whenever appropriate say Thank You. Generally American professionals are very friendly people and they reciprocate for your greetings. Make sure that you make them comfortable to start the interview.

Carry original documents in a separate folder

documentsI don’t want to talk much about the documents that are required for your H1B interview as it’s big subject on it’s own and it requires a separate post. I assume that your consultant or employer helped you in gathering all the required documents like – petition, DS 160 forms, education & job related documents, resume, interview call letters, client letters, etc.

For all the documents you are going to submit at the interview make sure that you have originals in a separate folder.  If required interviewer may ask you show the originals of any of the document you submitted for visa processing. Don’t mix the original documents with the documents you need to submit for interview. Have a separate folder for them.

For those who are going to stamping along with their spouse and children, they need to carry few extra original documents like – marriage certificate, marriage photos(30 numbers)/album, birth certificates, passports, education and profession related certificates of the spouse and children.

Know your role & responsibilities

The interviewer will ask you questions on your roles and responsibilities at client location. Be clear what is your day to day tasks at client place and prepared to face detailed questions on the same. When asked explain clearly and also make sure what you say is inline with what is mentioned in your petition and client invitation letter.

At times they may ask you questions specific to the project/technology you are going to work. So doing some homework in this area will help you easily answer the questions. Failing to answer basic questions on your role & responsibilities may result in rejection.

You work for your Employer at Client location but NOT FOR CLIENT

One of the important things to keep in mind that you work for your employer and you are being deputed to client location on a work visa.  Your employer is going to be solely responsible for your salary, work, promotion, pay hikes or what so ever during your stay at USA. Your client will not be responsible for anything.

Lets say you are employed with Company X in India and they are applying for H1B to work at your client(ex: Microsoft) in USA, you must keep in my mind that Microsoft is not your employer. Microsoft will not pay your salaries or responsible for any employment related activities. Company X will be solely responsible for all your employer related activities.

If you don’t get this correctly and say to Visa interviewer that your client is responsible, then you may get into troubles.

Know your client

clientsIt’s always good to know the clients with whom you are going to work in USA and their business. If your client is a well know organisation then you may not get many questions from interviewer else you need to be well prepared to provide details like – nature of business, location, size of the organisation, etc. 

Get to know the basic details about your client and be confident while providing those details to the interviewer. Also make sure that you never talk about any confidential details of your client projects and business. Revealing confidential details of your client may land your job itself in soup.

Make sure that your spouse is also in sync with you

familyIf you’ve applied a H4 visa for your spouse along with your H1, make sure that spouse is in sync with you. Your spouse also should know the basic details of your job, your employer, client and location where you will be travelling.

Your spouse should also be prepared to answers questions related to marriage, their profession(if working), kids, education, etc. Interviewers will try to asses your spouse communication skills, whereabouts while staying in USA and would they prefer to work USA or not. On H4, which is a dependent visa, your spouse is not allowed to work in USA and at any point your spouse should not show the intentions to search for work in USA.

Less luggage more comfort

luggageYou would have definitely heard that there are lot of restrictions on what you can carry along with you to an US Embassy while attending the interview. To be frank it’s not good to say there are many restrictions, but there are a hell a lot of restrictions. There are unbelievable restrictions and it’s for the safety of everyone.

You are not allowed to carry mobile phones, CD/DVDs, USBs, bank cards, cameras, cosmetics, food(except baby food), water, wallets, backpacks, sealed covers, etc. Trust me most of the things we carry with us regularly every day are not allowed inside. As there are 100s of restrictions, it would be easier if you understand what you can carry along with you and just carry them alone. Ask your employer/consultant to provide you a checklist of items that you can carry. Most what you would require are

  • H1B related documents provided by the employer/consultant
  • Photographs
  • All original documents supporting your H1B
  • Passports
  • Some cash for your travel expenses (avoid coins)
  • Any important phone number / details written in a paper(like your cab driver number, etc.)

If you carry restricted stuff then you will be stopped at security checks, you have to find people who can safely keep all the restricted items. Due to heavy restrictions in and around the US Embassy you will not find any  place to keep your luggage. So just carry the bare minimum things required so that you feel more comfortable.

Useful Links

  1. THE U.S. NON IMMIGRANT VISA APPLICATION PROCESS
  2. U.S VISA SECURITY REGULATIONS
  3. GENERAL FAQS

Hope this information is helpful to you and best of luck for your interview. Creative commons Image credit: Flickr/ alexfrance, vinothchandar. hughelectronic, architratan, striatic