Green Card Through Consular processing - Experience of a Community Member

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My I-140 was filed in February 2004. The National Visa Centre, in its letter dated 24th June 2010, informed that they had completed processing of my petition seeking immigration to the USA and had forwarded it to the American Embassy/Consulate at New Delhi. I was informed that an immigrant visa interview had been scheduled at the US Consulate, New Delhi on the 9th of August, 2010 at 10.45 am. 


I reached the US Consulate, Chanakya Puri, New Delhi, (hereinafter Consulate) a little before the scheduled time. I was given a token bearing a number at which the concerned Official of the Consulate would interview me. Once inside the Consulate, the assisting staff promptly verified my token number and advised me to wait for my turn. I was informed that token number and the counter number were being displayed on an electronic screen at the end of the hall. The waiting area had seating arrangement in rows and was very practically furnished. The air conditioning was comfortable, considering that it was sweltering hot outside. While I was waiting for my turn, time seemed to have stopped; it was a long wait. On my number being shown at the relevant window, I appeared before the official and handed over the token given to me at the entrance. At the first instance, I submitted my documents to the Consular Officer. The Official started looking through the documents submitted by me, which in fact gave me time to be at ease. The Consular Official, after going through the documents asked me questions relating to my profession in India. On my responding to the said questions, the official asked me questions relating to the kind of work I was expected to do in the US. The Consular Officer also asked my about why I wanted to immigrate after 20 years of practicing law in India! There were also questions asked about my relationship with the applicant/employer. What was I going to do in the US (what was my role/job profile)? I was asked about my familiarity with preparing websites et al. I answered all the questions honestly and told them that I was not conversant with the technical aspects of a web site; my job would be to provide content for the same. The interview lasted about 45 minutes and throughout the concerned official was very practical and to the point. Finally, I was handed a letter along with an annexure and was politely informed that I would be required to provide the information sought therein before my application could be processed further.


As per letter dated 9th of August, 2010, I was asked to provide the following documents:
a) Original job letter from my US employer.
b) Updated DS 230 part I for myself.
c) Since I was married now, in order to process immigrant VISA for my wife and daughter and son, they needed to come on any working day along with their passports, DS-230 I & II, birth certificate, marriage certificate, two photographs and immigrant visa fee $ 404 or Rs. 19,393/-.


In addition, I was also required to furnish certain documents from the employer as per annexure to the said letter.
I arranged the relevant documents as per letter dated 9th of August, 2010 and approached the US Consulate at New Delhi on the 12th of July 2012, along with my wife and children. I was given a token number and was asked to wait for my turn by the assisting staff at the consulate. The wait was long. My daughter, just about two years old, was restless. The assisting staff observed her and requested us to take her to the play area for kids. It did help, as she got busy with the toys there and with the other kids almost her age. We were amongst the last to be called for interview by the Consular Officer. The wait was tiring considering we had with us a two year old child. The Consular Officer accepted our DS 230's and thereafter requested my wife and children to wait as he proceeded to interview me. I was asked questions about my employer, the kind of work done by him etc. It appeared that while I was being questioned, the Consular Officer was looking at my employer's website, as he did say it was impressive. He also asked questions about my work, how it correlated with employment sought by me! I answered the questions to the best of my ability and honestly. The whole process may have lasted about 40-45 minutes. 


At the end of the interview, the Consular Officer handed me a letter wherein it was mentioned that I could not be issued a VISA at this time, and I was required to provide:
a) Police clearance from Regional Passport Office for myself and my wife.
b) Medical clearance from an embassy-approved panel physician for my wife and children.
c) Recent job letter from my employer.
I submitted the aforesaid documents along with our passports to the VFS, Nehru Place, New Delhi. The duly stamped Passports, along with a sealed envelope in each immigrant's name, containing documents were returned to us by courier. 
We arrived at Dulles, Washington, DC on December 24th, 2012. On board our flight, we had been given blue forms by the crew, and we were informed that the duly filled forms were to be submitted to the immigration official on arrival at destination. This blue form was basically a declaration to the effect that we were not carrying any food article(s), had not visited a farm within a specified period before our journey, etc. 


Upon arrival, we followed the queue for non-US citizens. It was a rather long winding queue and my daughter, who was just about two years and few months, was very restless. The assisting staff was quick to observe my restless daughter and promptly guided us to an immigration counter ahead of other waiting passengers.
At the immigration counter, we handed over our passports, the sealed envelopes received by us from the US Consulate in New Delhi and the blue form given to us on board our flight, to the immigration officer. The Officer examined our passports and documents, one by one, and, on being satisfied, put the immigration stamp on our passports. We were informed that this would serve as our green card, until we actually received one. We were then directed to another counter for finger printing and submission of the sealed envelopes. The blue forms were also stamped and handed over to us. 
The counter at one end of the row was meant for immigrants. The officer at this counter once again examined our passports and opened the sealed envelopes. I was asked questions about my job and the nature of duties that I would be required to perform. The officer carefully went through the documents that were in the sealed envelope handed over to him by us. Thereafter, our fingerprints were taken. While we were going through the process, an airport staff approached the officer and wished him Merry Christmas. He handed over a few chocolates to him and then enquired from us about the airline through which we had arrived. When we informed him about our flight details, he enquired about the kind and number of bags we were carrying. When I informed him about our baggage details, he pointed through the glass window, towards the conveyor belts and said that since ours was the only unclaimed baggage so far, he had put our bags together at a particular place. He wished us a Merry Christmas and walked away. 


Once the immigration formalities had been completed the Officer looked up, smiled, handed over a chocolate to my daughter and wished us Merry Christmas. We then proceeded to claim our baggage. The airport staff, who had informed us about our baggage at the immigration counter earlier, was standing by our baggage. Once we reached to collect our bags, he wished us Merry Christmas and moved away.


At the exit, we were directed to another counter where we handed over the blue forms to the officer. She asked us specifically that the declaration signed by us was correct. On receiving our answer in the affirmative, our bags were put through the scanner. Once the scan was complete, we were signaled towards the exit.

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