you The H1B visa interview are a high stakes situation. Careful and thorough preparation in advance can help secure success.
For those new to the US visa system,
The H-1B is a visa in the United States under the Immigration and Nationality Act, section 101 that allows U.S. employers to temporarily employ foreign workers in specialty occupations. Wikipedia.
Before sharing a list of questions, keep these points in mind:
About Your Company:
1. What company are you working for?
Answer with the name of your company.
2. What is your job title?
Mention ONLY your job title.
3. What is the job role?
Talk about what you will be doing in your role.
4. Where is the company located?
Know at the bare minimum the city and the state your company is located in the US. If you are not working at the headquarters, know the city and state of the office you are working at in addition to the headquarters.
5. Who is the CEO of your company?
Give the full name of the CEO of your company.
6. Who is your emergency contact?
Give their name, and if they are in your company, their role. In fact, it may be wise to remember all of the important people on your team and their contact information. This may be easier to do when it’s a job you been in for a while, but if it is a new job, take some additional effort to memorize these facts. They can ask you anything in relation to your role.
Particulars About Role:
7. Will you be working at your company’s office or at client sites?
If you answer both, be ready to answer possible client locations you will be traveling to. (Why is it important to know if the candidate will be traveling in the US?)
8. Which clients or customers will you be working for in the U.S.? Where are they located?
Answer honestly. If you are unsure because this is a new job, mention the client will be assigned once you are onsite. If you do know where your clients are located in the US, mention the client’s company name, city and state. For your own knowledge, it may be good to know where these client sites are in relation to your employer’s office.
9. How long will you be in the US for this role?
Note the estimated duration of stay.
10. Why do you have to go to the US for this role?
You should come prepared with a convincing argument about why your physical presence is needed in the US. If the officer gets a feeling you can do the role virtually, this will go against your case.
11. When will you travel to the U.S.?
Mention the anticipated travel dates to the U.S.
12. If you were to visit India using your paid vacation days and you had to extend your vacation for some reason, could you work remotely from India?
Get coaching from your company on how to handle this question. The bottom line is the officer wants to assure your presence is needed IN THE US on US SOIL. If you can do the job remotely from offshore, they will question why you should be granted the visa.
13. What is your salary and package?
Be ready to talk about your salary and offer letter details, such as health insurance, perks, paid vacation days, paid sick leave, and other related details.
Note: Be aware of all the details on your i797. It should mention the employer and duration/expiration date of this document.
14. What qualifies you for this role?
Focus on the skill set that is needed for this role and how your unique expertise fits this skill set.
If this is a new job, it may be handy to remember the job ad and what you needed to be a successful applicant for that job. If you went to college decades ago, that may not be relevant, but if the job you applied for required any recent certifications in any programming language, program management certifications or any other recent training or certifications, mention that in addition to the rigorous application and interview process (if you had more than one round of interviews, and what qualified you to go to the next rounds of interviews, etc.).
Considering you have been in this job for quite some time, focus on skill set and your track record with your employer, the expertise you have in the domain area and with the specific set of clients you will be working with onsite.
15. Which college did you graduate from? What was your major?
Mention the name or names of the college(s) you studied at, the degrees granted and graduation year.
[If you previously studied, lived or worked in the U.S., there may be an H1B visa interview question in relation to your previous stays in the U.S.]
16. I noticed you recently started this job. Before this job, you worked with (employer) for many, many years. Why have you decided to change jobs?
Steer answer toward your career growth and do not focus on the fact your new job will send you to the USA.
Previous Work Related Travel
17. Have you traveled outside of [home country] before? If yes, what countries and for what purposes?
Note which countries visas and travel stamps appear in your passport, and the reasons for going to each country.
18. We see you have been to the US before. Why did you come to the U.S. in the past? Where did you stay?
Answer honestly based on your background. Also, be ready to mention the cities, states and dates of your stays.
Life in the US
19. How will you support yourself the first few weeks or month of your stay before you get your first US paycheck?
Share details about your company’s travel and relocation perks such as per diems, credit cards, cash advances or traveler’s checks, ATM cards/debit cards, and any plans for accommodation or transport the company offers in your expat package. They may ask where exactly you will stay your first few weeks.
20. Do you have family or friends in the US?
21. Will your family be coming with you? Who will be coming with you?
22. What is your estimated cost of living where you will be staying in the US? Will your salary cover this?
There are many websites that can help calculate your cost of living in various US cities. It may be important to also note some general costs such as rent, gas and electric, transport (car, car insurance, gas), food, cell phone, other utilities and miscellaneous. Understand the percentage of your salary that will go toward these costs after taxes. [Learn more about paycheck deductions you may have in the U.S.]
They could also ask questions such as, “How much of your salary will go toward rent?”
The intent behind these questions is to assure that you as an applicant understand that you will be making enough money to cover your cost of living, which protects you when moving abroad.
Plans to Go Home
The H1B is a ‘dual intent’ visa, which means it’s for non-immigrants and immigrants alike. This means, depending on the current law, a person on an H1B visa could technically apply for a Green Card if they meet certain qualifications. In cases of H1B, it’s an employer-sponsored visa, so refer your H1B visa interview answers back to your employer.
23. Are you planning to come back to (your country) India?
Base your answer on your project and employer need.
24. What compels you to come back (property, investments, family, etc)?
Base your answer mostly on your job or employer, but you can also discuss your family, investments, property, etc.
These are some of the most common questions that you could be asked during an H1B visa interview if you are working full time in the US for the first time. In case you have been in the US in the past on an F1 or L1 visa and did CPT (Curricular Practical Training) or OPT (Optional Practical Training), you may be asked additional questions not listed in this post.
The questions and possible answers in this post have been compiled by Neha Mahajan of Skilled Immigrants in America and Jennifer Kumar, who has prepared over 3,500 expat professionals for business trips and work assignments to the US. The information given in this article should not be substituted for your legal counsel and is given for informational purposes only. Consult with your company’s HR or legal team for how to answer questions based on your unique circumstances.
Jennifer is an ICF certified coach who helps international professionals like you prepare to come to the US, including helping you prepare for the H1B visa interview. Check out our program that prepares your international expat assignees for relocation and career success in the USA.
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