F1 Visa Interview Experiences

10 Things You Didn’t Know About American Visa Officers (Plus 3 Hour Long Interview)

Sometimes, USA visa officers go to a greater extent to validate the student. In this case, Pavan was asked to write a TOEFL Essay to check if TOEFL scores are for real. Guess what, he nailed it. But, this entire process took about 3 hours and he observed over 50 student F1 Visa interviews.

Based on what he listened and observed during that three hours, he has written 10 things about USA Visa officers at end of  his student F1 Visa interview questions and answers.


F1 Visa Interview at Chennai Consulate

Well my VISA experience is a bit strange and shaky.

VO is a middle-aged Filipino lady. Counter no:15.

Me: Good Morning Mam!
VO: No Response. Pass on your documents, please. So, Why Clemson? And What specialization in Mechanical Engineering?

Me: I came to know about Clemson back in my third year engineering. I was working on a project in CFD and faced problems because of the computational limitations of my University (VIT, Vellore). Ultimately, I had to drop my project. I then went on to search for Universities with exceptional computational labs and found Clemson (has a supercomputer cluster).

VO: Oh! good. Any other admits?

Me: 3 admits Mam.

VO: Good! What do you want to do after your MS?

Me: Well, I want to start a training center in India and help train the rural graduates at nominal fees, those who cannot afford US education.

VO: What do you want to train them in? And how do you expect to survive if you don’t get enough money?

Me: Advanced simulation software packages like Abaqus, Ansys, OpenFoam. We will also act as a consulting company and earn the required funds.

VO: Very Good then, give me your score cards?

Me: I gave my TOEFL Card and was about to give my GRE score sheet.

VO: Tell me what reading passage you got in your TOEFL?

Me: Mam! I wrote it back in September Mam.

VO: I can see that. Now tell me? (matching my smile) you know I have been interviewing people for the last 16 years.

Me: Okay, I got a passage from Archaeology about an island where fossils of a new species were discovered and something about filling the gap between Homo erectus and She asked me to stop.

VO: Why don’t you go and wait, I will call you.

Waited for almost an hour, they asked me to go to counter number 28.

A young Indian Lady is there with my passport and TOEFL score card.

VO: Hi, Can I see your GRE score card, please?

I gave my GRE  score card: 730V+770Q+4AWA.

VO: Where did you write your GRE Test? Why did you write TOEFL in Mysore when Chennai center is nearby.

Me: Gave my GRE at Hyderabad. Then registered for my TOEFL at Chennai on 24th September. Due to a medical emergency, I postponed my TOEFL to 28th.

After one hour, they asked me to find counter 26

IL: Do you have a pen?

Me: Of course! Yes.

IL: Take this sheet of paper and write an essay on any general topic.

Me: How about “Youth in Politics”

IL: Great! I will collect it in 15 mins

I wrote an essay for about 10 mins. (Nailed it, because I’ve recently submitted an article about “Hereditary Politics” to a local English weekly editor). She collected it and asked me to wait. Then after 1 hour, I went to Counter no: 18.

A middle aged man in a suit said “Sir, We believe that your scores are genuine and you seem to have excellent academic record.”

Me: Thank you! (Smiling)

VO: So, keep it that way even in the US. Congratulations! Your VISA will be couriered.

Me: Thanks!



My F1 Visa Interview Observations

  1. First things first, all the VISA officers are pleasant and nice. They make you feel comfortable.
  2. They start every interview with a smile. Honestly, after a few interviews I felt it is the most boring job ever. But, they never let their smile go. They started every interview with a clear mind. (Of course they take breaks after every 3/4 interviews, still not an easy job).
  3. Every applicant gets a genuine, fair chance to make their case. They (VOs) have no prejudice what so ever.
  4. While standing in line everyone gets to listen to at least two interviews before their turn. Interestingly, the first few questions does not change (This should calm your nerves).
  5. I have seen an interview in which the girl is pretty nervous and her posture says it all. She has her hands joined behind, and stuttering and stammering all through her interview. The VO actually asked her not to be nervous and answer clearly. Still, no luck.
  6. There is another gentleman who wouldn’t leave even after his interview is done and dusted. He is so persistent and kept pleading the VO. She called the VFS volunteers to show the guy his way out. (It did not look good).
  7. People actually rehearse their answers so well that when there is a twist in the tale they falter so bad. Even though you rehearse please try to maintain an open mind. I was totally out of my wits when the VO asked about my TOEFL passage.
  8. People talk too much, more importantly women talk. While waiting to get in the consulate there is a girl who freaked everyone about F1 quota being full at Chennai and everyone is getting rejected. There is another girl who worried because she misplaced her photograph. (There is actually a photographer available inside the security building).
  9. This may be funny but almost all the couples who got their kids (small ones) along got their VISA done in few minutes. The VO’s (Women) were all so happy to see kids.

Final Observation:

This one interview stands out. There are some general questions. The guy is going to UIC (not so sure)

VO: You’re GRE seems to be low.
Guy: Yes, Madam but the test isn’t the only indicator of my intelligence. I have good academics.

VO: Oh! So, Can you tell me what VISA stands for?

Done and Dusted! Be careful of how you answer the questions. The answer may be wrong but don’t show your attitude)

I want to leave with a quote “Things work out best for those who make the best of how things work out”.


Next – 10 Must Read Student F1 Visa Interview Tips

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  1. I’ve my admission, please i mean can i take 530 gmat score to u.s embassy? If embassy won’t say its low. Tnx for uw quick reply.

    1. sure, you can take it to the embassy, dont let anybody tell you otherwise. I hope you have good GPA to back it up. The good thing is, you HAVE admission with that score so why then would you wont to worry about what the VO will think about it. Be positve and show you strength during the interview. Find a way to sell whatever program you are going to take at the US to the vo, be prepared to answer questions regarding why that university, why the low GMAT score (this is a trick question), your plans after graduation etc. Be positive!

    1. Although the mean GMAT score is approximately 530, the latest U.S. News and World Report guide to graduate schools reports that the average GMAT scores of the top business schools in the US, such as Stanford, Sloan (MIT), Kellogg (Northwestern), and Wharton (Penn), hover around 707.

      As you can see, the environment is extremely competitive. In fact, 707 translates to a percentile figure of approximately 94.

      But what’s a GOOD GMAT score?
      There is no exact answer to the question of what a “good” score is, as it depends on what schools you are applying to, though obviously the higher your percentile ranking, the better you are scoring when compared with other test-takers.

      What you consider a good score should depend on your own expectations and goals, and you should research what the average GMAT scores are at the schools you are interested in applying to.
      Hope this helps. When is your interview and when is your school opening?

  2. Please i need urgent reply, my father is sponsoring me amd I’ve his bank statement and sponsorship letter. Pls i want to confirm if i need his cac report or memorandum. Tnx

    1. what is a cac report?? I honestly dont know what it is. If you CAN get it in time why not? other than that I dont think its needed. where is your sponsor??

  3. I got may I-20 for the course “English Language and Literature, General” as I do not have TOEFL or IELTS. The duration of the course is two years. Will I have a chance of getting the visa. Please help me.

    1. TOEFL??? TOEFL is a requirement for students from places that didnt have their education in english or are not an enlish speaking country. I cant see a vo asking me for my TOEFL score!

  4. I notice my comments will undergo some moderation if need be and therefore assume someone does the moderation before the post appears proper. I will want to ask who ever does the moderation if its ok to type my affidavit of support and have it signed by my sponsor who happens to be in the US.

  5. No, it is not neccessary to pay ur term fees. The only doc regarding ur school is i20,

    P.S: please do sign ur i20

  6. Hey the meaning of the latin word “VISA” is “paper that HAS been seen”, not “Hasn’t”

  7. Please wanna confirm if it is compulsory to pass my school fees for masters before going to the embassy, bcos i someone told me u can’t get visa without paying school fees pls it urgent my interview is close. Thanx 4 all ur kind support.

    1. no, you don’t have to pay your fees before the visa interview. I never heard anyone do that before and I don’t think you should do that either. There have been people who have had their visa application rejected even with 100% scholarship so paying your fees before interview wont help.

  8. VISA is not an acronym and it stands for “a paper that hasn’t been seen ” in Latin. Thank you for this wonderful post !!!

    1. Apparently! Yes, VISA is not an acronym, but I don’t know why she asked it, may be a trick question, the guy tried to answer it, but the VO rejected his VISA, one thing i’m pretty sure, he looked very arrogant!

    1. U should apply considering the fact where u lived for the past 6 months. It doesn’t matter where u apply as long as u satisfy them in three regards,
      be a credible student, be able to afford it & show intent to come back,

      On a side note hyd has an edge(esp this time of the year)

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