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