Visa Processing In India
Applying for a Non Immigrant Visa (Processing System In India)
A recent online Visa Processing System has been introduced for all non-immigrant and immigrant visa applications. The advantage is that the documentation to be carried to the interview is greatly reduced. The disadvantage, of-course, is that one needs to be fairly computer-savvy to be able to independently complete the process.
There are three steps involved:
- Visit www.usatraveldocs.com
- Create a user account
- Fill out the application form online. The form can be started/ saved and continued / completed at different times.
- Pay the fees- either online via Electronic Fund Transfer or at a Citi or Axis Bank branch
- Schedule two separate appointments
- One for biometrics collection at the designated Offsite Facilitation Center; and
- The Other for the visa interview at the US Embassy or Consulate
Another change in the system is that all Consular Posts are now able to access the details of approved visa petitions through the new PIMS system (Petition Information Management Services). If applying for a non immigrant H, L, O, P, Q visas, the electronic PIMS record available to the Consular Officers becomes the primary source of evidence to be used when determining an applicant’s visa approval. The record will confirm the approved Form I-129, the Notice of Approval (Form I-797) and all supporting case documents that were the basis of the approval being granted by USCIS. Out of abundant caution for H-1B and L-1 petitions, the applicant should still carry copies of educational documents, experience letters, evidence of current employment, evidence of his tax filing, and the original I-797 Approval that will have been sent to him by his US employer.
It is important to answer all questions honestly but to be consistent with the facts stated in the petition filed by the US employer. To make any material change in what has been presented and already approved by USCIS, is a sure road to denial. So for instance, if the petition states that the applicant will work from its own office in the US, and at the interview the applicant says he is going to work for Client X, the visa will be denied.
Sometimes the Officer asks for additional documents- often when the US petitioning entity is small and unknown, to ascertain whether this is a genuine job offer by a viable US entity. A ‘221(g) Notice’ is issued and the applicant is asked to submit all the requested additional documents. Once these are reviewed and found to be in order, the applicant will be issued his/her visa.
Sometimes the approval is kept in abeyance for many weeks for ‘administrative processing’ with no other reason provided. This can be frustrating but there is no choice but to wait patiently for the eventual intimation that the visa has been approved.
If the spouse and any dependent children are accompanying the principal applicants, they qualify for dependent visas and should carry with them:
- Marriage certificate
- Birth certificate of each child
For non immigrant categories like the B visa (business/ tourist) where there is no prior approval from USCIS, it is best to go prepared with all possible documentation that can confirm the purpose of your intended temporary trip and that you have strong ties to your home country which you have no intention of abandoning. Since every applicant is presumed to be an intending immigrant and is provided a very small window to convince the Offer otherwise, denials for B visas are based on the subjective opinions of the Consular Officers and are fairly common. A denial does not mean you cannot apply again, but one is advised to only do so with better and different documents or if the circumstances that led to the denial, have changed. Going back with the same documents is meaningless and would only lead to another denial.
General Note: It is always better to check with the particular consulate, to which you will be applying for your visa, for their individual requirements.
The information in this article is of a general nature and may not apply to any specific or particular circumstance. It is not to be construed as legal advice and does not establish an attorney-client relationship between Jethmalani & Nallaseth and the viewer.