Becoming a documented resident of the United States is a long process with lots of steps—and the interview for your H-1B visa is one of the most stressful. During this interview, you discuss with an immigration officer your plans while in the United States and the details of your new job, and prove that your intentions in the US will benefit the nation. A typical interview takes less than half an hour, and when it’s finished, you’ll know whether or not your new life can begin in the United States.
Just like in a job interview, the key to the H-1B visa interview is confidence and preparation. To help you achieve a successful outcome, this article offers tips and insights into what to expect before, during, and after your visa interview.
Why do you need an interview?
An interview is often the last step in the visa approval process. Up to this point, you’ve filed all the appropriate paperwork and landed a job in the United States with an employer willing to sponsor you. The final step is the interview.
The goal of the interview is to determine if you meet the visa requirements. You will need to prove the specialized skill set that makes you uniquely qualified for a position at an American-based company. You’ll also need to answer questions about how you plan to use your time in the United States and your plans for the future. Your interviewer will try to establish that you will be a positive addition to the American workforce.
When to schedule an interview
The interview typically takes place after your Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker (Form I-129) is approved. Visit the US embassy or consulate website of your home country to schedule your visa appointment and to read more details about what is expected.
Don’t put off scheduling your interview. Wait times could vary based on many factors, such as location and visa category. An application fee for petition-based visa categories will need to be paid in full before the date of your interview. Currently, the fee for an H-1B visa application is $190. The US embassy or consulate website for your home country should give you instructions on how to pay.
Once you schedule your appointment, you will receive a confirmation letter with the time, date, and location of your interview, along with details on the documents you’re required to bring. A copy of the letter will also be sent to your immigration attorney and your employer/petitioner.
Before the interview
Before your scheduled interview, you will be required to undergo a medical examination performed by an embassy-approved doctor. In some countries, you are also required to designate a courier or another trusted source to receive important visa documents for you. This service will return your passport or visa to you after the interview. Check with your country’s US embassy or consulate if you are required to set up this service.
You will also need to bring some documents to your interview. It’s a good idea to collect all the documents and put them in a safe place well in advance of your interview date. If you forget these documents or are unable to locate any of the paperwork on the day of your interview, your visa may be denied or delayed.
Some of the required documents include:
- your interview appointment letter from the National Visa Center
- an unexpired visa, if you have one
- two color passport photos
- civil documents, such as a birth certificate and marriage certificate
- medical examination results
- a letter from your sponsoring employer confirming your job offer and job duties and/or USCIS Form I-485
- diplomas or other educational certificates.
An immigration attorney can be an important resource during your interview process. They can help you to prepare, provide you with insights into other clients’ experiences, and help you plan out your responses to typical interview questions. In some cases, your attorney can even accompany you to your interview.
The day of your visa interview
Now comes the day you have been waiting for. This interview will determine whether or not you will be approved for your visa. It’s important to dress for your visa interview as you would for a job interview—you want to look professional and respectful.
Knowing what to expect, including what questions may be asked, can help to boost your confidence. If you know others who have gone through the interview process, you could ask them what to expect and how you should prepare. Keep in mind that every experience will be different.
Be sure to arrive at your interview early. This will give you time to find the correct meeting location and take into account any wait times that you will encounter. Be courteous to all of the employees in the office and have a calm and pleasant demeanor. Appearing calm on the outside will help ease your nerves.
When you arrive, you will be directed to hand in your required documents to ensure that you have brought them all. From there, you will take an oath to promise to answer the questions truthfully. Soon after that, your interview will begin, although you should be prepared for some waiting time between each step.
During your interview, be polite and honest. If you can’t remember the answer to a question, it’s better for you to admit that you don’t know than to answer dishonestly.
Some H-1B visa interview questions may include:
- Where will you be working?
- What is your salary in your new position?
- What are your job duties?
- Where and when did you get your degree?
- What are your qualifications?
- Why do you not want to work in your home country?
- Where do you plan on living?
- How many employees work for your employer?
- What kind of product or service does your employer provide?
- When did you first come into contact with your sponsoring employer?
- How many years has your employer been in business?
- What was your interview process like with this employer?
- Who is the president or CEO of this company?
- Will you be working at the company’s location?
- Do you have a client letter?
- How do you plan to finance your stay in the US?
- Who paid for your H-1B visa expenses?
- Do you plan on bringing your family to the US?
- Have you applied for any other visas?
- How long do you plan to stay in the US?
After your interview
In most cases, you will know at the end of your interview if your visa has been approved. If it has been approved, your interviewer will provide you with details of how and when your visa will be returned to you.
Some visa applicants may be denied after the interview because the consular officer did not have all of the required information or because of past criminal offenses. If your visa has been denied, you can reapply in the future or apply for a waiver of ineligibility.
However, if you have followed all the requirements leading up to the interview, provided all the necessary documents, and have answered your interview questions clearly and thoroughly, your interview process should go smoothly.
Congratulations on making it this far in your visa journey. You have made great strides in gaining employment in the United States and applying to live here. Once your visa has been approved, that is when exciting things can start to happen.
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