H1B stamping at London Embassy - Sep 2011


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I am posting my complete experience of H1b stamping at London Embassy. Hope this will help the people seeking to get their visa stamped from London embassy.

Situation: 3rd renewal of H1b. This one was I-140 based 3-year renewal. My 2 3-year H1b periods had expired and green card was under processing. I-140 had been approved and I was seeking to renew H1b visa for another 3 year.

However, based on my experience, I don't think the situation would have been any different if it had been 1st or 2nd or 3rd stamping of H1b.

FYI, I got my first H1b stamping from London, second from Montreal and then again from London this time. I am Indian citizen and live in USA.

Why London?: I live in NYC and for me, Montreal or Toronto would have been more convenient. However, no appointments were available in Canada for foreseeable future. I started looking for appointments in the last week of Aug 2011. I had to travel to India in October and hence it was important that I got my visa stamped before that. I could have got it stamped in India itself but I was advised by the attorneys that their visa processing time is long. Also, for taking appointment in India, one had to pay the fee by visiting HDFC branch and then putting the receipt number online.

Taking appointment in London was a breeze. You give the embassy a call and you have appointments available readily. For me, since I had to first take the UK visa, I wanted to keep some time with me. Even though the earlier dates were available, I scheduled my appointment for Sep 26th. One has to pay a fixed fee of $18 for fixing appointment. This is in addition to visa fee.

Forms: I filled up the form DS-160 online and also uploaded the digital photo. After 3-4 attempts (basically changing the contrast, toning of the photograph), the photo uploading successfully. I made sure that I carried every single possible document with me. The ones I carried included:

- Copy of email confirmation for Interview scheduling

- Copy of successful submission of DS-160 page - It should have a barcode and your photo on the top

- Copy of DS-160 as submitted online (this is not needed since the embassy has online copy, but I carried it just in case)

- Passport (carry any old one if you have renewed your Passport)

- Copy of Passport

- Current I-797

- I-797 petition (must have been filed by your attorneys while filing the petition)

- All the old I-797s

- old petitions

- Bank statements for last 6 months

- Last 6 paystubs

- Form W2 for last 3 years

- Tax return for last 3 years

- Social security card Copy

- Rent agreement (for residence proof)

- Letter from employer stating my Current title, role, salary and period for which I had been working with them

I arranged them in 3 different folders - one containing passport, I-797s and petition, the second one containing employment letter, paystub and bank statement and the third one containing tax returns and rent agreement.

My appointment was scheduled for 9.30 AM. I reached there at 9 AM. There were already 100 odd people ahead of me in the line. Some people had chosen to ignore the instructions on the embassy website and carried their phone along. They were pulled out and told to store the phone in stores nearby.

Lesson: Do as instructed on the website. Do not act smart.

Well, thanks to those people, the line moved little faster.

First step: An embassy officer checks and makes sure that you have DS-160 submission proof and appointment letter copy. Keep these two things at the top of your pile. Since the line was long, I was able to get through this stage at about 9.30 AM only.

Second step: Another security officer sees your passport and sends you in.

Third step: Security check - They make you keep all belongings in a basket and scan it. You also go through the security scanning.

Fourth step: You walk in to the embassy. At the reception counter, after showing your forms, you are given out a number. Next you walk into a big hall which can probably accommodate more than 300 people. When I walked in, it was filled with lot of people. My number was 149.

Fifth step: There are two steps now - getting your docs submitted and then interview. There were about 15 odd windows for getting the docs checked and they were calling out people by the token number (being displayed on electronic screen). Getting through this first stage did not take long. I had to wait for about 20 minutes before my number was called out. This stage was easy. The lady asked me for the appointment letter, DS-160 submission proof, passport and I-797. She retained them and asked me to wait in the room.

Sixth step: Now I had to wait for a long time. About 2 hours and 15 minutes. My token number was called out at about 12.15 PM. The interview process was very smooth. The guy asked me who did I work for and what did I do? He looked at the previous passport and then said your visa is approved. He did not look at any of the supporting documents that I had carried. He asked me to go and pay the courier fee.

Seventh Step: I went to the courier desk and paid the fee. I opted for "before noon" delivery.

So, all this happened on Monday. The courier receipt said that my passport would start appearing online for tracking once the courier company (SMS DX) had received the passport from the embassy. The normal processing time is indicated as 5-10 business days. My tracking number started showing the passport online only on Thursday (4th day) and the passport was duly delivered on Friday (5th day).

I will say my case was very straight forward. Big MNC employer, direct employment (no contract etc hassle), prior track record etc made it easy.

If you have any question, let me know.

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  • 2 months later...

Congrats on your visa.

You mentioned that you had gotten your first Visa stamped too in London. Were you working in London during that time?

I have recently received my H1 approval and I am planning to go to London to get it stamped as my attorney also advised against going to India. I am currently working in US on my OPT. So I just wanted to know if first time F1 to H1 in London is OK.

Thanks for your help.

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  • 1 year later...


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