Category: IR5 (parents)
Interview Date: Feb 2009
Consulate: Chennai, India
Jan 28, 2009: Called panel doctor Vijayalakshmi and fixed an appointment for Jan 31st, 11 AM.
30th Jan 2009:
Reached Lister Labs at 6:30 AM and no one was there. Security opened the gate and gave us the first token. We were out by 8:30 AM. Collected Sealed envelope at 4:30 PM. X-Ray, blood test cost: Rs 810.
31st Jan 2009:
Visited panel doctor Vijayalakshmi. She asked my mom about childhood illnesses (chicken pox), health history, current prescriptions, etc. Conducted thorough medical examination, looked at my mom's vaccination record and administered 2 shots. We had to wait for half an hour for the vaccines to arrive - delivery problems
She asked us to make 2 copies of her medical report and then gave us the report in an unsealed envelope. We asked her about sealing the envelope. Apparently, this is not needed since it is an all-clear report.
13th Feb 2009, 8 AM: Interview at the consulate.
Folks queue up from 6:30 AM. We reached the consulate by 7:45 and there were 50 ahead of us (including other non-immigrant visa applicants with 7 AM appointments)
2. Normal security checks at the entrance. All documents in a clear folder, no cell phones etc
3. We were seated in building 2, after one of the VFS folks checked our appointment letter. We were told to wait until our name is called. No tokens at this stage. We waited until 10 AM (2 hour wait)
4. Interview was in 3 stages.
First, an Indian officer calls you and checks all the documents, and gets the medical certificate from you. The Indian officer spoke Tamil and asked my mom a few questions (number of children, prior visits, whether my mom intends to immigrate,etc.
I had with me 2 affidavits re: my mom's name discrepancy between her passport and my birth certificate and produced it when asked about it. My mom also signed DS-230 Section II at this point in front of the IO.
We got a token at this point.
At the second stage, an American officer took my mom's finger prints and asked no questions. This happened about 10 minutes after the first interview.
At the third stage, about 10 minutes after the second, my mom was called for the interview by an American Immigration Official (woman IO). I requested a Tamil interpreter, since I'd been told earlier that I can't translate for her. This was in an email from the IV section of the US Consulate.
The IO smiled and told me to translate!
My mom was administered the oath, was asked about number of children, who is in India and who is in the US, whether my mom understood the nature of "permanent residency", number of trips to the U.S., visits to any other country, any stay longer than 6 months in the U.S etc.
The 3rd stage IO called the first stage IO and they had a conversation, flipping back and forth the passport pages, apparently looking for entry/exit immigration stamps/dates. She looked at DS-230 as well for the dates of visits. They were counting the months using their fingers My mom had stayed for less than 6 months during her previous trips on visitor visa and so no harm done.
The IO was smiling during the entire time. She asked me what I did, when I reached India, what was my first US visa. She flipped through I-864, my U.S passport (and remarked that I travel a lot), and asked me if I had made travel arrangements for my mom, and arranged with VFS for passport delivery. I told her I am waiting for immigrant visa approval before buying tickets and that I did pay the courier fees at VFS for passport delivery. The IO mentioned that it may take up to a week to get the passport and the sealed envelope.
Finally, she said every thing looks fine and "Congratulations and welcome to the United States. Enjoy your stay" to my mom. She returned the original birth certificate, marriage certificate etc to me at this point.
All this took about 20 to 30 minutes. All three interviewing officers were cordial (not just with us). All in all, a very pleasant experience.
Since our interview was on a Friday, I expected to pick up the passport on Monday but VFS and the consulate were closed due to Presidents' Day. Went to VFS Tuesday evening between 4 and 5 and collected the passport and papers. We were also told not to open the sealed envelope. I didn't want to wait for the courier delivery and opted to collect the stuff in person.
Came back to the U.S with mom, via SFO.
We were the first in the new immigrants queue and the finger printing and checking of documents took about 30 minutes. The actual time was more like 5 minutes but the USCIS officer was finger printing and getting the signatures of about 7 folks in the queue and then started checking the sealed envelope. So, after my mom's finger printing was done, we had to wait for 7 other guys to do the same before the officer took our sealed envelope and examined it and then stamped the passport with the date of entry. The officer told us that it would take up to 6 months for the GC to arrive.
No questions at the customs and we were waved through.