Applied in March 2006
Applied thru a consulting firm in March 2006. Waited until November to get the Approval Notice. Gave 3500 USD to the consulting firm to process the visa based on returning the money minus the lawyer fee and the firm fee.
I know your question is almost a year old, but I figured I'd reply in the hopes it would forewarn other aspirants.
The consulting company is illegally charging you for your visa paperwork. It would appear that the company is a storefront operation, the kind of which get red flagged. Plus, 3500USD is a heck of a lot of money. Anyone should spend a few hundred dollars to talk to a lawyer before they lay out any kind of cash for such things. Besides, if what you want to do is to hire a lawyer, many charge zero fees for the initial consultation.
RFE in Nov 2006
Got an RFE. Sent more docs in 2006
Got the approval Notice in March 2007
Went to Chennai Consulate in Nov 2007 due to interview date availability with the VISA fees.
I find it hard to believe that you couldn't find one appointment in the interim. Smells shady.
Got the refusal of granting a VISA next days itself stating Employer as the issue (not able or willing to provide employment).
Seems like a shady outfit to me. Likely wouldn't have happened with a reputable employer, plus their in house lawyer would have taken care of it.
If Chennai had to refuse so many visas stating various reasons, why they grant the visa in US itself in the first place ?
I am joining the group of sick people having lost all the money and the patience.
Your frustration is understandable. But they're trying to do their job as well. And fair or not, smaller consulting shops carry a greater presumption of fraud than a large organization such as HP or Microsoft. There is greater scrutiny of applications nowadays due to the prevailing anti H1B sentiment and the recession.