If you have ever applied for a Visa to the United States, you would have surely wondered how to (desperately) clear the same. But because of the ever changing scrutiny requirements that the Officers put us through, the job is hardly a cakewalk! Having been through multiple H1B and one L1B Visa Interviews in New Delhi, and recently issued B2 (Tourist) visa in Toronto, I can say it is not as dreadful as it is made out to be. It does entail a thorough preparation though, unlike Tourist Visa to many other countries (say Canada), which can be obtained without much of an effort.I left the United States after completing 6 years in May this year, having entered on L1B in April 2011 and going through multiple H1Bs during my stay there (because of either a job change or stamping required in India when I went on vacation). It sounded a pretty daunting and nerve-racking task during my first 2 interviews, but now I have gotten used to it.
While there is no sure-shot way to clear the US Visa Interviews, here’s how you can do your best:
1. Proper paperwork: Since H1 and L1 Visas are sponsored through your employer, make sure they file all the documents required. Most of it would be either filled-in or provided by you, so do your best. If you work for a renowned firm with a global presence, it makes life all the more easier.
I turned down a high paying job offer through a third party for Bank of America just because it was through that ‘third party.’ I was promised it would be a direct position with the client before interviews, but after clearing 5 rounds, BoA decided to bring me as a Vendor Consultant for a year (they did the same for all other such positions also). Well, I turned down the offer and continued with my current firm for about 50k USD less annually, because I work for a big brand name!
2. Prepare well in advance: Nothing beats preparing well for any interview…that would help you feel easy with any questions thrown at you. Do check experiences of people who have gone to the same embassy where you are appearing, but take insights with a pinch of salt since every case is different. People might say rubbish since they want to let our their frustration if they are declined, just move on to the next case.
If you have never faked any point in your resume (I never did so), you wouldn’t have to make up excuses, and that goes a long way in feeling comfortable. Ascertain that the original documents that you need for the interview are all there in a transparent file and you wouldn’t have to scamper around if asked for a specific paper in the interview.
3. Just before the interview: Dress professionally if you are appearing for a Work Permit based Visa. I have seen people working for top Investment Banks in the US and coming to office in bathroom sandals. How cheap! Nobody is asking you to wear a suit and a tie during peak of summer, but don’t go there in Jeans and a Tee…make sure the shirt and trouser is ironed properly and shoes are polished (search internet for what is a proper attire).
Remember, some interviews are high-profile – they could make or break your career. Don’t take any chances just because you are not well prepared!
4. During the interview: Even if you are standing in the queue, appear confident – don’t slouch. And always wear a smile! I have cleared 80% of my interviews in life just because I was confident, smiled, and relaxed. Many interviewers might reject you just because you look highly nervous (indicating you are hiding something). Again, if you are genuine, you wouldn’t have to worry there.
If you can, make the discussion with the officer a bit humorous. Many of us live stressful lives, so making the moment lively comes in handy. Don’t take it to the extreme though, or appear over-smart. This point is only for people who have mastered the art of balancing the situation.
If you’ve done your bit, most likely you will come out happy. In the event you are rejected for whatever reason, take solace in the fact that you did your best – you might crack it next time!