Visa and passport

What are the employment-based nonimmigrant visa interview questions?

Employment-based nonimmigrant visas are granted to eligible foreign nationals who intend to work in the United States on a temporary, nonpermanent basis.

In many circumstances, employees who are applying to enter the U.S. to work based on a temporary nonimmigrant classification must complete an interview at an embassy or consulate in order to receive a valid visa stamp.

Below is further information about the employment-based nonimmigrant visa process as well as some standard questions that may be asked during the embassy/consulate interview.

Who needs to have an employment-based nonimmigrant visa interview?

All foreign nationals, except Canadian citizens in most circumstances, who are seeking to enter the U.S. to work via a temporary nonimmigrant employment classification must have a valid visa stamp with the correct classification (H-1B, L-1, O-1, P-1, J-1, etc.).

This visa stamp serves as a travel document and allows the individual to enter the U.S. in the classification indicated on the visa stamp.

Visa stamps are only issued by U.S. consulates and embassies abroad. Therefore, those seeking a visa stamp must apply and attend a visa interview to secure the required visa stamp. There are limited exceptions to the interview requirement. Interviews are by appointment only and are typically less than half an hour.

Employment-based nonimmigrant visa interview questions

A consular officer conducts the interview and may ask some standard questions regardless of visa type. They may include:

  • General biographical questions to confirm identity and contact information
    • What is your name, address and/or date of birth?
    • Have you previously traveled to the U.S.?
    • What is your marital status, date of marriage and travel of your dependent(s) to the U.S.?
  • General employment questions to confirm sponsoring employer
    • Who is your current employer? Who do you currently work for?
    • Who is your sponsoring employer? Who will you be working for in the U.S.?
    • What type of company will you be working for? What does your sponsoring U.S. company do?
    • Who will you report to in the U.S.?
    • What will be you be paid?
    • Where will you work in the U.S.? What will your work address be in the U.S.?
    • Where will you live in the U.S?

Further, there are questions that may be asked during the interview that are specific to each nonimmigrant visa classification. They could focus on employment history, current work position and/or educational background. Those potential questions follow below, segmented by visa type.

H-1B Visa

  • What did you study? What area of study did you earn your degree? What degrees have you completed?
  • How long have you worked in the field?
  • Will you be working at a client site?
  • What duties will you be performing? What are your job responsibilities?

L-1A Visa

  • What are your managerial duties in your current role?
  • What are your managerial responsibilities in your U.S. role?
  • Do you have direct reports?
  • What authority do you have to make decisions (financial, human resources, etc.)?
  • Why do you need to be in the U.S. to perform your role?

L-1B Visa

  • What are your specialized skills?
  • Why do you need to be transferred to the U.S. to perform this role?
  • What do you know, or what can you do, that other employees don’t/can’t?
  • Why do you need to be in the U.S. to perform this role?

O-1 Visa

  • What is your field of extraordinary ability?
  • What projects/efforts will you be working on in the U.S.?
  • What achievements have you earned? Have you won any awards?

P-1 Visa

  • Do you compete as a professional athlete? What sport? Are you ranked?
  • Have you competed internationally? Competed for your country?
  • What team/league/series will you be competing in when in the U.S?
  • Do you have an employment contract? Will you be paid?

TN Visa

  • What did you study? What area of study did you earn your degree? What degrees/licenses have you completed?
  • What is your TN category?
  • What are your job duties?
  • Where will you be working?

F Visa

  • Where are you studying?
  • What program/degree are you seeking?
  • How does your program fit into your career plans?
  • What is your plan when you return home at the end of your program, and what possible options are there for employment?
  • Who is paying for your tuition and/or supporting you while you are in the U.S.?

J Visa

  • Where will you be doing your training? Why did you choose that program?
  • In what field will you be receiving training?
  • Do you have a degree? In what field? When did you receive that degree?
  • What do you expect to learn in your training?
  • Where did you last work and for how long?
  • How are you paying for your program?
  • What is your plan when you return home at the end of your program, and what possible options are there for employment?

Please note the above is not an exhaustive list of questions.  Specific questions vary on a case-by-case basis, and consular officers have a great deal of discretion in conducting interviews. Individuals should consider consulting with experienced immigration counsel to prepare for their employment-based nonimmigrant visa interview.

Expanded interview waivers

Consular officers have the authority through Dec. 31, 2023, to waive the in-person interview for certain nonimmigrant visa applicants, international students and temporary workers with an approved USCIS individual petition, who are applying in their home country and meet certain requirements.

Generally, individuals who have previously held a U.S. visa in any category, have never been refused a visa and do not meet any apparent ineligibility criteria may qualify for the waiver. Certain first-time visa applicants who are citizens of a participating Visa Waiver Program country as well as applicants renewing a visa in the same visa classification within 48 months of prior expiration may also be eligible.

Consular officers have the discretion to still require an in-person interview on a case-by-case basis. Applicants should check consulate websites and consult with experienced immigration counsel to receive specific information regarding their case.

Further reading

What is the F-1 student visa?

CBP reportedly discontinues stamping passports for travelers entering U.S. via air

Explaining the L-1 intracompany transfer visa

The employment-based nonimmigrant visa types

Year in review: 2022 immigration updates and outlook for 2023

ICE site visits for students on STEM OPT: What employers need to know

As always, please do not hesitate to contact Garfinkel Immigration Law Firm at 704-442-8000 or via email with any questions.

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