Here’s another edition from “Dear Sophie,” the advice column that answers immigration-related questions about working at technology companies.
“Your questions are vital to the spread of knowledge that empowers people around the world to push beyond limits and chase their dreams,” says Sophie Acorn, a Silicon Valley immigration lawyer. “Whether you’re in people management, a founder, or looking for a job in Silicon Valley, I’d love to answer your questions in my next column.”
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Our startup has just been admitted to the winter batch of a top accelerator!
My co-founder with an H-1B just got fired from big tech, but he’s fine because his immigration attorney files a change of status to B-1 within the 60-day grace period. I’m a little nervous because I’m outside the US and don’t have a B-1/B-2 visitor visa yet.
How can I pass the visa interview? What kind of questions will I get? How should I prepare?
— Tenacious in Tobago
Thank you very much for recording! Before answering your questions, let me provide some context and general recommendations for preparing for a consular interview.
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An interview with an immigration officer is a high-stakes undertaking. Immigration officials have the discretion to decide whether or not to grant you a non-immigrant visa or an immigrant visa (green card) that will allow you to enter the United States. And how well – or badly – you do at the interview will affect your future visa and green card applications.
According to Mandy Feuerbacher, who was a consular officer with the US State Department, officials take notes on whether they believe an interviewee is responsible, credible and qualified, and that record will be available for all consular officials to see, even if an person is applying for another visa category or at another U.S. embassy or consulate.
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Unfortunately, you cannot bring an immigration attorney to a consular interview – the State Department no longer allowed that over 25 years ago. In contrast, you may bring an attorney to a green card interview with a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Officer in the U.S.
Immigration officers are people too!
This sounds obvious, but reminding yourself can help ease your anxiety. Like everyone else, consular officers have families, good days and bad, hopes and dreams, and personalities and worldviews shaped by their unique experiences. They just try to do their job the best they can.
On a side note, the H-1B Special Occupation Visa and L-1 Intra-Corporate Transfer Visa serve dual purposes and allow you to plan to stay in the U.S. by applying for a green card. to ask. The O-1 extraordinary ability visa also has some flexibility.