There used to be a time when H1B visa interview questions used to be by the book. The interviews were often over in 5 minutes or less. My own interview was like a walk in the park when I applied for an H1B visa in India for the first time.
But with time, the consular officers have started scrutinizing a lot more. This is a trend that started with Trump’s presidency and something that seems to continue. And getting an H1B visa rejection when you have nothing to hide and everything is legit, is probably the worst.
This article has been written based on multiple H1B interview experiences with inputs from my friends and colleagues who have done H1B visa stamping in different US consulates.
Do You Always Have H1B Interview?
The interview process is part of the consular processing of this nonimmigrant visa. If you are a first-time H1B applicant, it is very much certain that you will have an interview when you go for stamping.
However, if you have already been working in the United States and you are in your home country after getting an extension, then there are chances that you would qualify for an H1B dropbox processing. And that means, no interview.
But let’s say you are in the United States and you switched employer. That’s something I did as well. I changed my employer and got an H1B transfer. So is there an interview in that case? I didn’t have any.Well, it is more of a recent occurrence but yes, you should be ready for an interview. Sometimes, USCIS officers can even come to your client office to interview you.
But You must not miss the interview under any circumstances, although you can reschedule, by informing the Embassy beforehand.
The Embassy will reschedule, but this will increase the processing time of your visa depending on how busy the embassy is.
Where is the H1B Visa Interview ?
First-time H1B Applicant
For first-time H1B visa applicants, the interview happens at a consulate that is close to their residential address.
So if you live in Delhi, your interview will be in the Delhi embassy usually. But you can also choose Mumbai if you can justify it.
After H1B renewal or transfer
Once you travel to the United States on an H1B, and you renew or transfer the H1B, you can travel to a destination outside the USA to get the stamping done.
Mexico and Canada are the popular choices to get the H1B stamping. But you might have an interview with a USCIS officer for the extension/transfer.
How to Get H1B Visa Interview Appointment?
You need to visit the U.S. embassy website to find your consulate and schedule an interview time.
Usually, you can bring only your documents with you and not cell phones and other personal belongings. Check with the consulate rules. Most of the time lockers aren’t available.
What are the H1B Interview Documents to Bring?
Here is the thing. You might not need even a single one of your H1B interview documents. A lot of applicants were not asked for anything other than their passports. That includes me.
But still you need to carry all the relevant documents like
- Original Passport (bring all old passports if you have any)
- DS-160 confirmation (colored or black printout)
- H1B Appointment Confirmation
- Copy of H1B Approval notice
- Copy of LCA
- Client letter (if you are going to work at a client location)
- Latest resume
- Copy of degree certificates. Take the originals just in case.
- An offer letter and Experience letter from your existing company
- Payslips for the last 6 months
- Bank account statements for the last 6 months
- Any expired passports
If you are going with your spouse, you need to bring in
- The marriage certificate
- Marriage pics
H1B Interview Experience
Like any other visa interview, the H1B visa interview questions focus on finding out whether you are hiding something.So you must be really professional, poised, and relaxed when answering the questions. I have known instances where people had nothing to hide, yet they got nervous and messed up their interviews for H1B visas.
Another thing to take into account is that your H1B interview experience can be different depending on different factors like:
- Whether it is your first time
- Your position and experience and the time you have worked in your company
- If you did your Masters or Bachelors in the United States
- Whether changing from OPT or some other kind of visa to H1B
- Your company’s profile
Here are some of the most common questions and their sample answers. I have prepared the list based on my own H1B experience and inputs from many of my friends and colleagues who are working in the United States on H1B.
Questions about Qualification, Employment & H1B Sponsoring Company
One of the major goals for an US Embassy official is to establish whether the H1B sponsoring company is legit. They want to make sure that you are not getting a fake job from someone in the US, whether knowingly or unknowingly so that you can leave your home country.
Usually, if you would be working for a small company (especially a staffing one), you might be interviewed for a longer time. But even if you are working for a big MNC, don’t take the interview lightly.
Q. What’s your role?
A: My role is a senior software developer.
Q. Are you a direct employee or working for a client?
A: I am a direct employee.
Q. What do you work on?
Q. What is your salary?
A: My take home salary is 60000 INR per month.
Q. Where is the company located in the US? Since when have you been working for this employer?
A: The company is located in 420, East Pensylvennia Dr, Austin, Texas. I have been working for them since the last 5 years.
Q. Have you worked in the USA in the past? If Yes, who was your previous employer, and what was the address?
A: Yes I have. I worked for another employer XYZ in Charlotte, North Carolina for 2 years before this.
Q. What’s one thing you don’t like about your job?
A: I think sometimes it can get very overwhelming and demanding.
Q. Why do you like your job?
A. I love building things and this job allows me to do that. And there are new challenges every week.
Q. Do you have any additional certifications?
A. Yes, I am a certified React developer.
Q. What will be your salary in the US?
A: My gross salary will be 70,000 USDs per annum.
Q. Who will be your supervisor?
A: My supervisor’s name is Thomas Strong.
Q. How will you pay for your expenses until you get your salary?
A: My employer would be covering my lodging and boarding expenses for a month. And they will be lending me 5,000 USDs.
Q. How many rounds of interviews did you have to get this job? How was the interview conducted?
A: I had three rounds of interviews. The first round was telephonic. Then there were two video interviews.
Q. What does your sponsoring employer do?
A: My sponsoring employer is a Fortune 500 company that builds web and mobile applications for different banks, healthcare providers, government entities and more.
Q. How many employees work at your company?
A: My company has 20,000 employees in total.
Q. Do you know the name of the president/CEO of the company?
A: I think his first name is John. Don’t remember his full name though.
Q. Can you show the job offer letter or experience letter?
A: Yes. Here it is.
Q. Do you know the average cost of living where you will work?
A: I believe it is close to 2000 USD per month.
Q. What kind of work will you do in the US?
A: I will continue to build UI applications for the client and maintain the applications that have been already built.
Q. Can you explain the project in brief?
Q. Where did you graduate from? What did you study?
A: I graduated from BITS Pilani. I studied Computer Science.
Q. What’s your purpose of visit?
A: To work in the United States.
Q. When was your passport issued? Do you have any other passports?
A: It was issued last year December. No this is the only passport I have.
Q. Why do you want to work in the USA?
A: For global exposure and to make more money.
Q. Have you been to the US before?
A: Yes, I visited the US two years ago with my family for two weeks.
Q. Have you ever applied for employment visas in any other country?
A: Yes, I worked in the United Kingdom in the past and got a visa for it.
Q. Will your spouse/children be joining you in the US?
A: My spouse will be joining me after two months. This is so that I get settled down first and then she will come.
Q. Did you travel outside India in the past one month?
Q. Could you please provide me with your approved Form I-129, client letter, and I-797?
A: Sure. Here they are.
Q. Do you have family in the USA?
A: My elder sister is studying in the Princeton.
Q. How long have you been married?
A: I have been married for two years.
Q. Where do you live in the US? Do you like it?
A: I live in St. Louis, Missouri. It’s alright, I think.
F1/OPT to H1B Interview Questions
Q. From where did you do your masters, which major, and year of graduation?
A: I did my Masters in Data Science from Trenton University in Portland, Oregon last year.
Q. When did you start working and how much OPT duration you have used?
A: I started working 6 months ago and I got 6 more months left.
Q. When did you arrive in India and were you present in the US in 2020.
A: I arrived in India in October this year. I was present in the US in 2020.
Q. Have you done any second masters and CPT?
Q. When did you start working for your employer? Were you on F1 when you started working with this employer?
A: I started working for my employer 8 months ago. No, I was not on F1 when I started working.
Q. What is your highest degree?
A: Masters in AI from University of Utah in Salt Lake City.
Q. Did you apply for Boise State University and didn’t go there?
A: That’s right. I wanted Data science and they gave me Data Programming. So I chose not to go there.
Q. Did you apply for any other university?
A: Yes. I applied for 4 universities in total and got admitted. But my university has the best program, I think. So I chose it.
Questions if Travelling with Family
Q. Question for spouse: Have you ever worked in USA on H4 EAD?
A: No I have not.
Q. Questions to kids: which grades are you in & whats your favorite subject?
A: I am in 6th grade. My favorite subject is Maths.
Q. When did you get married? Was it an arranged marriage?
A: We got married two years ago. Yes, it was an arranged marriage.
How Long is the H1B Visa Interview?
While most H1B interviews last close to 5-10 minutes, no one can say that for sure. Depending on your work history, profile, and other factors, an interview can take longer. Some consular officers also scrutinize more than other.
I have heard instances where interviews lasted for 45 minutes. So I would say prepare for at least 30 minutes.
When Will I Get the H1B Visa after the Interview?
Usually the consular officer will keep your passport if your visa is approved. You and/or your employer will be notified about the same through email or text.
H1B Interview Rejection
Usually if the consular officer returns your passport to you after the interview, that means that you are rejected. The rejection can happen due to many reasons like:
- You provided false information that the officer could corroborate.
- Your present company has a bad repo or has sent people fraudulently to the United States in the past or is being investigated for the same.
- You couldn’t produce a required document.
- There is a presidential proclamation or some other regulation in place. For example, many applicants got their H1B visa refused under section 212 (f), presidential proclamation 10052 before March 31 2021.