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L-1 Visa Interview: Tips and Common Questions

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The L-1 visa permits a U.S. employer to transfer an employee with specialized knowledge relating to the organization’s interests or a manager/executive from one of its affiliated foreign offices to one of its offices in the United States.

In order to get an L-1 visa, your US employer will first have to file an L-1 petition with USCIS, meaning that USCIS always have to approve the L-1 petition first before you can get an L-1 visa at a Consulate. After this petition is approved, you will then be able to apply for an O-1 visa at a Consulate.

Here are some tips for the O-1 visa interview:

Be confident & be able to explain your role for the U.S. Company:

The officer often asks the L-1 visa applicants to explain what will be their role for the U.S. company and to describe their day to day job duties. The officer wants to make sure that you qualify for the L-1 visa under the executive, manager, or specialized employee category.

Be able to explain your role for the foreign company:

The officer may also ask you to explain what you have been doing for the foreign company (describe the role, job duties), and may also ask how long you worked for the foreign company.

Be familiar with the Table of Contents and with the L-1 Petition:

Even though the petition was already approved by USCIS, the Consular Officer may want to see some supporting evidence so you should print the whole L1 petition that was submitted to USCIS. You should familiarize yourself with the Table of Contents so you are quickly able to find documents in the petition in case the officer wants to see specific evidence (e.g. evidence about the company’s qualifying relationship, etc.).

Answer Questions Briefly:

Many applicants ramble on when asked a question by an examiner and provide detailed explanations to simple questions. If a question is a yes/no question, just answer yes or no and if the examiner wants more detail they will ask for it.  Often applicants speak and speak and reveal information that may ultimately lead to a denial of their application.

Answer Questions Honestly:

It is imperative that a visa applicant answers all questions honestly. If you do not remember something, just say that you do not remember.  If a visa is denied because of lack of documentation, you can always apply again in the future. If a visa is denied because an officer thinks you lied, you will have a tough time getting a visa in the future.

Listen to the Question:

While many are nervous, you should focus on the question and provide an answer to the question being asked.  If you go off on a tangent or do not answer the specific question, the officer may think you have something to hide and are avoiding the question.

Know Your DS-160 Application:

You should review your DS-160 application before the interview and pay particular attention to any questions on the application where they asked you a “yes” or “no” question or to “explain”.  For example, (Has anyone ever filed a Immigrant Visa (Green Card) on your behalf? If yes, explain.)  If you answered any of these questions “yes” these areas may be a focus of the interview.   Often examiners will ask some of the same questions that are on your DS-160 application and your answers during the interview should be consistent.

Dress the part and be courteous:

You should wear business attire to your interview as a first impression cannot be taken back. Also, under no circumstances should you argue or be disrespectful to the officer. At time they will do everything in their power to provoke you but you should always be respectful. (even if they are not). They have an enormous amount of power and they are the person that will make the decision.  Keep in mind that their decision CANNOT be appealed.

Relax:

The examiner is asking questions to see if you meet the criteria and if you used a lawyer you likely have a good submission.  Relax and do not stress about this interview.  Often the is very fast and the officer only asks a few questions. That being said, the interview can be longer if the examiner has doubts about the application.

Some questions the Consular Officer may ask you:

  • Where do you currently work? Do you currently work for the foreign company?
  • What was your role for the foreign company? Please go through your typical day and explain what you were/are doing on day to day basis.
  • What will be your role for the US Company? What will be your job duties?
  • When do you plan to come to the U.S. (if not already in the U.S.)?
  • What does the foreign company do?
  • What does the US company do?
  • Where is the US company located?
  • What will be your salary in the U.S.?
  • Who will be covering your duties while you are in the US?
  • How long have you been employed by the foreign company?
  • Have you already started working for the US company?
  • How many employees does the foreign/US company have?

What should you bring to the interview?

Please note that this is only a general list of documents and each Consulate may have its own specific instructions as to what you should bring:

  • Passport
  • Photo (5x5cm)
  • DS160 confirmation page
  • Proof of the visa fee payment
  • Visa interview appointment confirmation and instructions
  • If your spouse/child is applying for an L-2 visa, they will need to bring the original marriage/birth certificate
  • The I-797 L-1 Approval notice
  • The L-1 petition
  • If you are already working in the US on an L1 status, you should bring 2-3 most recent paystubs

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