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my DCF experience at New Delhi for I-130

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I just finished filing my I-130 petition at the New Delhi USCIS office today. I found other people's experiences at the New Delhi center to be helpful, so here's mine. Background: My husband is a French national, and we've lived in Mumbai for the past four years because of his job. I'm on an entry visa and cannot work in India. Before moving to India, we were in Hong Kong. We've been married for six years.

 

We stayed at the Ashok Hotel, which is about a 15-minute brisk walk to the U.S. embassy. Other than having to dodge cars when crossing the streets and ignoring the persistent auto-rickshaw drivers who wanted a fare, it was a pleasant walk. We got to the embassy a few minutes before our 9:30 a.m. appointment, but after looking at our passports and appointment letter, security directed us to go across the street to a little kiosk where we had to hand over our electronics -- mobile phones and a Fitbit, and each item cost 50 rupees to hold, with a passport needed for ID purposes. If I had to do this again, I would have left all my electronics at the hotel. There was only one other person in line at the kiosk, but I was already antsy about the whole process and the delay didn't help things.

 

After we returned to the embassy entry gate, the guard took our passports, looked questioningly at the appointment letter I had printed off the USCIS website and then turned to his superior, who seemed to chastise the guard (all in Hindi, so I had no idea what was said). The guard finally escorted us to the security checkpoint and to the Department of Homeland Security office. There were two groups waiting (a three-person group and a two-person group). No clock in the office, but I'm guessing we waited about 20 minutes before we were called to the window. The officer took the I-130 and G-325s and checked to make sure all the boxes were filled out. 

 

In addition to the required documents proving my U.S. citizenship (passport and certificate of citizenship since I received my citizenship through my parents), residency in India (four years of my stay visas and copies of my visa stamps) and marriage (marriage certificate from California), I brought three photos of us at various stages of our married life (one at our wedding, one with a friend, one with his parents), bank statements from India and Hong Kong for our joint accounts, our current lease in India (which is under his name) and his job contract. The officer took the photos and bank statements, but didn't need my husband's stay visas when I offered, since the residency requirement only applied to the petitioner, and didn't request anything else.

 

The officer told me to take my demand draft and have an escort take me to the pay counter, but when I went outside the office, my escort was gone. I told the guard at the desk that I needed to go pay for my application. She told me to wait inside the office, which I did for about 10 minutes. The escort showed up and told me to bring my U.S. passport. We then walked outside to go behind the building into another door. At the pay counter, no one was there, so I waited a few minutes, then knocked on the glass window. A clerk showed up right away. I handed over my passport and demand draft, and he issued a receipt for my payment, with my name misspelled, but it didn't matter to the consular officer when I returned. She accepted the receipt, and we were done. I asked, "You don't need any more information?" and she said no. Throughout the process, I didn't sense any suspicion on her part, but she didn't give the instant approval I was hoping for.

 

When I asked her what was next, she told me the petition would be adjudicated, I would be informed, and the case would be sent to the Mumbai consulate, which would contact me about the next step. When I asked how long it would take to get a notification from the Mumbai consulate, she said, "Ideally, six to eight weeks." I hope that's just the standard answer and not the reality. It didn't seem to be very busy at that center. Only a handful of people were in the waiting room when I first entered, and only a mother-son group after I left. 

 

My husband said I missed the drama with the mother and son while I was gone. Before I left to pay, in a room connected to the waiting room, I could hear a consular officer interviewing the mother. She was asked why she didn't list on visa application that she had previously applied for a visa. The mother said through her son, who was translating, that it just slipped her mind. I could hear the doubt in the consular officer's response, "Well... OK I'm going to change your answer to 'previously applied for a visa.' "  I left after that, but my husband told me the mother had her visa rejected, and her son was furious with the mother. After they came out of the interview room, they were told to wait while the officer checked on something. As his mother tried to talk to her son about what just happened, he said, "I just can't talk to you right now," got up and walked to the other side of the room. Not that I needed reminding, but it was a good reminder to not fudge anything on the visa applications.

 

After we handed in our visitor badges, we were allowed to exit without an escort. Then we collected our electronics at the kiosk, which had a longer line since more Indians were now waiting to get into the embassy. Overall, it was an easy process. I just hope they approve our petition quickly because a job offer in the United States is pending. I noticed for the first half of 2016, processing times for I-130s were less than a month, but the July-October 2016 period saw the time lengthen to 1.4 months. I am hoping that's because it was peak student visa season.

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Petition takes close to 2 months if all else is found OK. You are right, upto June,2016 , the USCIS website did mention under 30 days. I got an approval in the month of december, it was 4 days short of 2 months.

 

Best of luck.

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Because I hadn't received any notification about my I-130 petition, I emailed the New Delhi Embassy to see whether I needed to send a copy of my renewed stay visa (my old one expired while I was waiting for a response). I just received an email saying they had processed the I-130 petition and forwarded it to to the Mumbai consulate on March 1. They advised me to wait a couple of weeks before I check in with the consulate. Here's hoping they don't take too long...

 

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