How to ace your H-1B visa interview: Binge watch American sitcoms, prepare like it's for a job

On March 27, 2023, the United States successfully conducted the first round of the H-1B visa lottery. During the initial registration period, sufficient electronic registrations were received to meet the FY 2024 H-1B cap.

110,791 of the total 780,884 registrations received, according to USCIS, have been selected.

The next steps for thousands of Indians who have passed the H-1B visa lottery include submitting their petitions and attending visa interviews.

H-1B visa

Ishani Duttagupta (Times of India) was informed by Ben Arterburn, a former US diplomat and director of consular affairs at the US-based company Argo Visa, that “the applicant should be prepared to be their own advocate at this interview.” Arterburn stated that the H-1B visa interview should be taken very seriously.

He added, “Candidates should prepare for the visa interview like they would a job interview,” noting that the applicant would be present on their own at the interview and would need to act as their own representative, even if they had previously received assistance and support from their employers and immigration lawyers in preparing for the interview.

According to Arterburn, “first-time US visa applicants should probably watch American sitcoms before their interviews so that they can be prepared to understand American accents, cultural nuances, and idioms and speak in a way that is understood internationally.”

The first visa interview is the best time to dispel any doubts the consular officer may have. Candidates should be aware of their employer’s identity and, if the sponsor is a staffing agency, the specifics of the agency-employer contract. If the work is done at the client’s location, the contract’s duration and specifics may need to be explained. Arterburn, who focuses on assisting foreign nationals succeed in the US visa interview process, stated, “Officers are frequently concerned about fraud and may want to know if it is a real and stable job.”

Candidates ought to think of themselves as experts and ought to be prepared to respond to any inquiry regarding their own case.

With respect to the reports a competitor ought to take to the H-1B visa interview, Arterburn feels that while those are significant; They are also less important than the applicant’s statements.

Although the visa officer may be persuaded by the applicant’s statements, even though the documents are crucial, they may not even want to see them. As a matter of fact, reports should surely not be pushed in through the window except if they are requested,” he said.

“Americans aren’t very hierarchical, so don’t call the visa officer “sir.” It is best to address them in the same manner as one would address a professional colleague at work, without being overly formal.

For those on B1/B2 temporary visas

After being laid off by Big Tech, a lot of techies switched to B-1/B-2 visitor visas in an effort to stay in the country and find work elsewhere.

Arterburn cautions that in such cases an excessive number of expansions of the B-2 visas could later reason issues at H-1B visa interviews. ” He added, “They may be asked at the H-1B visa interview what they were doing for so long without a job in the US when these people finally get jobs again.”

“You’re at prime working age, what were you doing without a job for so many months?” or “were you working illegally to sustain yourself?” might be some of the questions at the subsequent visa interview, he claims. According to him, the best course of action in such instances is to find a new job as soon as possible, change your work visa status, or make plans to leave the United States.

Visa stamping

For Indians, who need to go external the US for a H-1B visa stamp; Arterburn believes that consular posts in Canada like Vancouver are the best option.

“Nowadays, Vancouver possesses a genuinely significant delay energy for Indian candidates who need to go for a H-1B visa stamp. However, since consular officers in places like Mexico may not be very familiar with Indian applicants and their cases, it is better to go there or to consular posts in India,” he added.

Truth be told, for all third nation visa interviews, there is a greater gamble of postponements and refusals, he feels.

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