Denial of H1B Visa Renewal Leaves This Indian Family Stranded in India for Two Months

It has been seven weeks since an Indian family of four from Washington DC was denied renewal of H1B visa on their current visit to India. The United States’ announcement to make the visa application and renewal procedure shorter and easier for Indians starting September 2019 ushered in an era of happiness for many applicants on one hand. On the other hand, USCIS’ extreme visa vetting policy makes life tougher for hundreds of H1B visa professionals.

In July 2019, an H1B Indian family’s trip to India became a nightmare when Jiteshwar Attri, a 17-year-old H4 dependent of the family was denied entry to the US on return. In a similar incident, Saurav Mazumdar, his wife and two US-born children have been stranded in India due to the denial of H1B visa renewal.

H1B visa renewal, US visa vetting policy, Washington DC news

Image credit: Saurav Mazumdar/The Washington Post

Saurav Mazumdar and his wife, Ishita Menon, have been living in Washington DC since they moved there to pursue higher studies 19 years ago. They have got used to calling Washington DC their home over time. He travels to India with his family every three years for re-stamping of his passport and renewal of the H1B visa. Once in every three years, their kids – 6-year-old Sameer and 11-year-old Sitara – get to spend time with the grandparents.

Neither Saurav nor Ishita had the least idea that their current visit to India would be a sort of nightmare. “I think we were naïve enough to think what has happened to us wouldn’t happen,” said Ishita Menon, who earned PhD from Georgetown University.

Right after they arrived in India in July, Mazumdar visited the US Embassy in New Delhi and dropped off his passport along with other documents there, the same way as he did previously. On having received an email 8 days later, he went to collect the passport; but it was not re-stamped to his utter surprise. Instead, he got a letter requiring him to appear for an interview the next day.

The interview was not a labyrinthine interrogation. Rather, it was straightforward, according to Mazumdar. Post interview, his fingerprints were collected and he was handed over a letter telling him to his dismay that everything was held up for the time being.

Though his heart missed a bit, he did not lose hope. Being optimistic about the US immigration system and President Trump’s preference for US-educated, skilled foreign workers, Mazumdar wrote about his ordeal to the State Department several times. In response to all of his emails, he was told, “Before making inquiries about the status of administrative processing, applicants should wait at least 180 days from the date of interview or submission of supplemental documents, whichever is later.”

Minimum 180 days of wait and watch means staying away from what they call home for 6 months or more. No work; no school; no life. Even it does not guarantee their return to the US.

Saurav Mazumdar had to cancel their flight tickets to USA from India and hired an immigration lawyer. All this while he has been pondering over what caused denial of H1B visa renewal to him despite the fact that he has been a coveted talent in data engineering and artificial intelligence for senior-level designations till date.

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12 thoughts on “Denial of H1B Visa Renewal Leaves This Indian Family Stranded in India for Two Months

  1. RAvi Inder Mann

    We are stuck In the same situation back in India.We came in summer for our visa renewal stamping from Texas-Austin for L1A Visa and on 26th July-2019 we were given a blue slip-221G stating insufficient documents in New Delhi(India).However the same were submitted the same day.Its been 9 weeks now and we have not heard anything from the Indian Embassy.Me and my husband are losing on our business and the clients and my 2 kids -the same age -6 and 11 are missing on their school.My daughter missed her 1st day to kindergarten.worse than that -there is no redressal for our loss.A quarter of a year has gone waiting to go back home.

    Reply
    • JIGAR R PATEL

      Hi sorry to hear about all this news. have you got any updates on your case? Hope your h1b has been approved and you will be able to come back.

      Reply
    • DCA (Desi confused by America)

      I think you are a bit confused. Not to worry, most Indians wanting to move to USA are. There is no such thing as an “Indian embassy” in India. Do you mean US embassy?

      Additionally, you have lost the privileged of calling USA your “Home”. If it was your Home, you wouldn’t need a VISA to go there now would you??

      Reply
  2. jacob

    There are so many people stranded. but only these guys are featured.. not sure how they influenced this paper ;-)))))

    Reply
  3. Ashish

    Something similar happens with us in 2018 when we visited my sister in london for 3 weeks vacation and turned out to be 3 months without knowing how long it going to take . Because of this fear I have not visited India for past 5 Years

    Reply
  4. Samir Ahuja

    Why blame system when you didn’t prepare well ? When I left for stamping in first visit to India with whole family I packed my whole house in 8 cartons, got quotes from shipper to India, gave keys to my friend. On second visit I went first , got my stamping and then my wife travelled to India and got stamping. This is new normal, accept reality but don’t make fuss if you haven’t planned well or better don’t come to US.

    Reply
    • Gowtham

      It’s really not practical in every case. What you did the extreme (like packing the whole house into 8 cartons and giving keys to friend to ready to be shipped etc.) You wish one could do that, but again system could be blamed too, when they just deny on no apparent reasons. Its reasonable if they find some thing bad and deny the visa.

      Reply
  5. JT

    I just traveled to India for H1b renewal. I work in Semiconductor fabrication.. Lithography engineering.
    Overall, I had an OK experience.. I got 221g after my interview on Sep 30 2019 in Hyderabad, India. The visa officer said – nothing to worry, just a sevis check needed.
    I looked up info on what that is about, ad turns out that either my grad school or some agency did not transition me properly from F-1 to H-1b visa.
    I am not sure where to check if that transition has been done properly. But, if anyone can find out, it would be helpful to others to check it before they go for VISA interview.
    What is surprising is.. this sevis check issue usually pops up during the 1st H-1b stamping. I got my first h1b in 2015. And there were no issues. When I went for the renewal, I got the sevis check issue.. lol..
    Anyways, by October 4th, my visa was issued and I am currently waiting on my passport.
    Hope this is helpful.

    Reply
  6. Suresh Francis

    It is very sad to hear these story. It is better to live in India than USA. So much harassment to get Visa like this and mental anguish. Is it really worth it?

    Reply
  7. AG

    Having no green card within 15 years telling me something wrong there. This is the red flag that state department is looking into also. Better stay in India and have a job there instead of playing this cat and mouse game.

    Reply
    • Mallika

      Agree – people need to keep in mind that H1B is a temporary work visa.
      Also, after 6yrs, I thought extensions were annual – so I’m not sure what the “every three years” refers to. You don’t *have* to go to India and get it stamped for every extension, so maybe that’s just the cadence the kept.

      Reply
  8. Indian

    Like someone pointed out, 2 months is nothing. I had a 6 month wait. I was paying rent (which I eventually closed out),car insurance etc., thinking I’ll be back soon cuz thats what the consulate told me (4-6 weeks). The uncertainty was terrible. And then I started working in India. I’m still here and will eventually travel back but this experience gave me a much needed dose of MY home country. I appreciate my citizenship with India more. I’d rather take the risk of denial and visit India than stay there thinking my Visa will get denied if I traveled. This visa is not worth all what I previously thought.

    Reply

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