Startups

Dear Sophie: 2 questions about resuming consular appointments

Comment

lone figure at entrance to maze hedge that has an American flag at the center
Image Credits: Bryce Durbin/TechCrunch

Sophie Alcorn

Contributor

Sophie Alcorn is the founder of Alcorn Immigration Law in Silicon Valley and 2019 Global Law Experts Awards’ “Law Firm of the Year in California for Entrepreneur Immigration Services.” She connects people with the businesses and opportunities that expand their lives.

More posts from Sophie Alcorn

​​Here’s another edition of “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 allows people all over the world to rise above borders and pursue their dreams,” says Sophie Alcorn, a Silicon Valley immigration attorney. “Whether you’re in people ops, a founder or seeking a job in Silicon Valley, I would love to answer your questions in my next column.”

TechCrunch+ members receive access to weekly “Dear Sophie” columns; use promo code ALCORN to purchase a one- or two-year subscription for 50% off.


Dear Sophie,

I sponsored my fiancé for a K-1 visa last year right before the pandemic. Unfortunately, the consulate canceled my fiancé’s visa interview and he hasn’t yet been able to get his visa.

Now that travel restrictions to the United States have been lifted, what’s the status of visa interviews?

— Pining in Pittsburgh

Dear Pining,

Thanks for reaching out to me with your question. While theoretically love knows no bounds, the U.S. immigration system can sometimes assert otherwise. We are saddened to hear that you and your fiancé have been separated for so long! We have many clients in your situation, which we recently chatted about on the 100th episode of “Immigration Law for Tech Startups.” Rest assured, we’re beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

As always, I recommend consulting with an immigration attorney for specific guidance — every situation is different based on where you and your fiancé are located, and immigrants often say it’s very helpful to have an attorney throughout the K-1 visa process to answer questions and guide you, as well as to support with the adjustment of status process once you and your fiancé are married.

A composite image of immigration law attorney Sophie Alcorn in front of a background with a TechCrunch logo.
Image Credits: Joanna Buniak / Sophie Alcorn (opens in a new window)

The good news is that starting in January 2022, all U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) personnel will be back in USCIS offices, working to get through the backlogs and reduce processing times that increased substantially during the pandemic. Abroad, however, cases and interviews at the State Department will likely continue to face delays. Many U.S. embassies and consulates remained closed, and those that have reopened have huge backlogs to work through.

How quickly your fiancé will be able to schedule a visa interview will depend on the embassy or consulate and what cases have priority at that embassy or consulate. After the Biden administration lifted the older COVID-related travel bans on November 8, the U.S. Department of State announced that embassies and consulates “have broad discretion to determine how to prioritize visa appointments among the range of visa classes as safely as possible, subject to local conditions and restrictions.” My sources tell me that the Biden administration is working hard to provide resources and rebuild infrastructure within these departments.

Each U.S. embassy or consulate is providing information about visa interview scheduling and prioritization. For example, the online page for the U.S. Consulate in Mumbai states it is currently processing all immigrant visas (green cards) and K-1 visas.

For tips on filing for a green card once your fiancé is your spouse, take a look at this previous Dear Sophie column and listen to the podcast “Engaged, Now What?

Wishing you both a quick reunion!

— Sophie


Dear Sophie,

I’m in the U.S. on an approved H-1B petition, but I don’t have an H-1B visa stamp in my passport. I want to visit my family in Mumbai.

Will I get a visa stamp in time to return to the U.S. within a month?

— Hankering for Home

Dear Hankering,

Even though the U.S. Consulate in Mumbai has reopened, it has a huge backlog of cases to get through and is currently focusing on processing immigrant visa (green card) and K-1 fiancé(e) visas, not H-1Bs and other non-immigrant visas. Individuals I speak to who are currently planning December trips to India applied for their visa interviews months ago and have been in the queue for quite some time.

If you absolutely need to be physically present in the U.S. again in January, and you don’t currently have a visa interview scheduled, reconsider your travel — you are unlikely to obtain an appointment in India within the next month.

Prior to COVID, many H-1B holders in the U.S. would seek Third Country National visa processing in third countries; please keep in mind that this is generally unavailable in Mexico and challenging in Canada as well due to the pandemic.

As always, I recommend consulting with your employer’s immigration counsel to discuss your particular case in more detail.

You can keep tabs on the latest non-immigrant visa appointments by using the U.S. Department of State’s Visa Appointment Wait Times. This online search tool estimates the wait time for scheduling an interview for non-immigrant visas, such as the H-1B visa, F-1 student visa and J-1 cultural exchange visa.

According to the U.S. Consulate in Mumbai web page, it is only scheduling emergency appointments for non-immigrant visas and it remains difficult to get an emergency appointment. However, as I mentioned above, consulate staff now has the discretion to determine what visas to prioritize, so continue to check U.S. embassies and consulates in India for updates on scheduling and timing.

Hopefully, we’ll be back to normal again in 2022!

All my best,

Sophie


Have a question for Sophie? Ask it here. We reserve the right to edit your submission for clarity and/or space.

The information provided in “Dear Sophie” is general information and not legal advice. For more information on the limitations of “Dear Sophie,” please view our full disclaimer. You can contact Sophie directly at Alcorn Immigration Law.

Sophie’s podcast, “Immigration Law for Tech Startups”, is available on all major platforms. If you’d like to be a guest, she’s accepting applications!

More TechCrunch

The spam reached Bluesky by first crossing over two other decentralized networks: Mastodon and Nostr.

The ‘vote Trump’ spam that hit Bluesky in May came from decentralized rival Nostr

Welcome to TechCrunch Fintech! This week, we’re looking at the continued fallout from Synapse’s bankruptcy, how Layer wants to disrupt SMB accounting, and much more! To get a roundup of…

There’s a real appetite for a fintech alternative to QuickBooks

The company is hoping to produce electricity at $13 per megawatt hour, which would be more than 50% cheaper than traditional onshore wind.

Bill Gates-backed wind startup AirLoom is raising $12M, filings reveal

Generative AI makes stuff up. It can be biased. Sometimes it spits out toxic text. So can it be “safe”? Rick Caccia, the CEO of WitnessAI, believes it can. “Securing…

WitnessAI is building guardrails for generative AI models

It’s not often that you hear about a seed round above $10 million. H, a startup based in Paris and previously known as Holistic AI, has announced a $220 million…

French AI startup H raises $220M seed round

Hey there, Series A to B startups with $35 million or less in funding — we’ve got an exciting opportunity that’s tailor-made for your growth journey! If you’re looking to…

Boost your startup’s growth with a ScaleUp package at TC Disrupt 2024

TikTok is pulling out all the stops to prevent its impending ban in the United States. Aside from initiating legal action against the U.S. government, that means shaping up its…

As a US ban looms, TikTok announces a $1M program for socially driven creators

Microsoft wants to put its Copilot everywhere. It’s only a matter of time before Microsoft renames its annual Build developer conference to Microsoft Copilot. Hopefully, some of those upcoming events…

Microsoft’s Power Automate no-code platform adds AI flows

Build is Microsoft’s largest developer conference and of course, it’s all about AI this year. So it’s no surprise that GitHub’s Copilot, GitHub’s “AI pair programming tool,” is taking center…

GitHub Copilot gets extensions

Microsoft wants to make its brand of generative AI more useful for teams — specifically teams across corporations and large enterprise organizations. This morning at its annual Build dev conference,…

Microsoft intros a Copilot for teams

Microsoft’s big focus at this year’s Build conference is generative AI. And to that end, the tech giant announced a series of updates to its platforms for building generative AI-powered…

Microsoft upgrades its AI app-building platforms

The U.K.’s data protection watchdog has closed an almost year-long investigation of Snap’s AI chatbot, My AI — saying it’s satisfied the social media firm has addressed concerns about risks…

UK data protection watchdog ends privacy probe of Snap’s GenAI chatbot, but warns industry

U.S. cell carrier Patriot Mobile experienced a data breach that included subscribers’ personal information, including full names, email addresses, home ZIP codes and account PINs, TechCrunch has learned. Patriot Mobile,…

Conservative cell carrier Patriot Mobile hit by data breach

It’s been three years since Spotify acquired live audio startup Betty Labs, and yet the music streaming service isn’t leveraging the technology to its fullest potential — at least not…

Spotify’s ‘Listening Party’ feature falls short of expectations

Alchemist Accelerator has a new pile of AI-forward companies demoing their wares today, if you care to watch, and the program itself is making some international moves into Tokyo and…

Alchemist’s latest batch puts AI to work as accelerator expands to Tokyo, Doha

“Late Pledge” allows campaign creators to continue collecting money even after the campaign has closed.

Kickstarter now lets you pledge after a campaign closes

Stack AI’s co-founders, Antoni Rosinol and Bernardo Aceituno, were PhD students at MIT wrapping up their degrees in 2022 just as large language models were becoming more mainstream. ChatGPT would…

Stack AI wants to make it easier to build AI-fueled workflows

Pinecone, the vector database startup founded by Edo Liberty, the former head of Amazon’s AI Labs, has long been at the forefront of helping businesses augment large language models (LLMs)…

Pinecone launches its serverless vector database out of preview

Young geothermal energy wells can be like budding prodigies, each brimming with potential to outshine their peers. But like people, most decline with age. In California, for example, the amount…

Special mud helps XGS Energy get more power out of geothermal wells

Featured Article

Sonos finally made some headphones

The market play is clear from the outset: The $449 headphones are firmly targeted at an audience that would otherwise be purchasing the Bose QC Ultra or Apple AirPods Max.

5 hours ago
Sonos finally made some headphones

Adobe says the feature is up to the task, regardless of how complex of a background the object is set against.

Adobe brings Firefly AI-powered Generative Remove to Lightroom

All cars suffer when the mercury drops, but electric vehicles suffer more than most as heaters draw more power and batteries charge more slowly as the liquid electrolyte inside thickens.…

Porsche Ventures invests in battery startup South 8 to boost cold-weather EV performance

Scale AI has raised a $1 billion Series F round from a slew of big-name institutional and corporate investors including Amazon and Meta.

Data-labeling startup Scale AI raises $1B as valuation doubles to $13.8B

The new coalition, Tech Against Scams, will work together to find ways to fight back against the tools used by scammers and to better educate the public against financial scams.

Meta, Match, Coinbase and others team up to fight online fraud and crypto scams

It’s a wrap: European Union lawmakers have given the final approval to set up the bloc’s flagship, risk-based regulations for artificial intelligence.

EU Council gives final nod to set up risk-based regulations for AI

London-based fintech Vitesse has closed a $93 million Series C round of funding led by investment giant KKR.

Vitesse, a payments and treasury management platform for insurers, raises $93M to fuel US expansion

Zen Educate, an online marketplace that connects schools with teachers, has raised $37 million in a Series B round of funding. The raise comes amid a growing teacher shortage crisis…

Zen Educate raises $37M and acquires Aquinas Education as it tries to address the teacher shortage

“When I heard the released demo, I was shocked, angered and in disbelief that Mr. Altman would pursue a voice that sounded so eerily similar to mine.”

Scarlett Johansson says that OpenAI approached her to use her voice

A new self-driving truck — manufactured by Volvo and loaded with autonomous vehicle tech developed by Aurora Innovation — could be on public highways as early as this summer.  The…

Aurora and Volvo unveil self-driving truck designed for a driverless future

The European venture capital firm raised its fourth fund as fund as climate tech “comes of age.”

ETF Partners raises €285M for climate startups that will be effective quickly — not 20 years down the road