Could this be the shortest F1 Visa Interview Ever? You decide.
- University: San Francisco State University
- GRE Score: 314/340
- TOEFL Score: 105/120
- Undergrad GPA – 65%
Bachelor’s Degree in Telecommunication Engineering. I just completed my 8th semester and awaiting results.
My Visa, interview was scheduled for 20th June at Chennai Consulate for the 8 AM slot.
Had reached Chennai the night before after a lot of hassles. Traffic is super crazy in the city throughout the day, and if you don’t know Tamil, you are going to suffer hugely trying to find your way.
The consulate is a huge building, guarded by a lot of police officers loaded with AK-47’s.
I was a bit apprehensive about my chances. I had not made any special preparations for the interview.
I hadn’t taken any help whatsoever from any consultancy or agency from the time I started off with GRE till the time I booked my Visa interview.
Most of the people I spoke to kept advising me to take help from consultancies. But, I felt like they are all overpriced and unnecessary.
It’s not like I am an illiterate or can’t understand English. Put in the right amount of effort and you won’t need anybody’s help.
Day Before the F1 Visa interview
Around 10 pm on 19th June, I sat and typed answers to most commonly asked questions. Sent responses to interview questions to a senior who is currently pursuing his MS in SFSU to review it.
He replied back an hour later with a couple of changes to my answer.
Went through it once, shut my laptop, sat watched Euro 2012 till 2:30 AM.
I woke up late in the morning; parents were panicking that I was going to miss my appointment. Somehow managed to get ready in time and ran to the consulate at around 7:45 AM. Stood in a Queue for a while, got my token number, entered inside.
Inside US Consulate in Chennai
Once inside you have about 15 windows, each occupied by Indians, who collect your I-20, Passport, HDFC bank receipt, SEVIS form, DS-160 and Appointment letter.
After they check the documents, they pack it neatly with a rubber band and send you to the fingerprint scanner counter.
After this is done with finger printing, you go to the main building where the Visa interview takes place. There are about 23 counters. Out of this 20 were open.
I sat near the 20th counter that was occupied by a guy in his late 20’s maybe. Since the counters are within earshot, you can listen to every question that is asked and the replies.
While I was waiting, about six people were in the queue at the 20th counter. Some of them had impressive profiles and answered pretty well, but he rejected all of them. I was worried me big time. People who were sitting down next to me as well started panicking.
The main reason for this was that the students were giving answers eerily similar to the answers we had in mind for the same questions.
So in the last moment was brainstorming to find alternative answers to these questions.
I could barely come up with a few. My token number was 102, and the VO at the 20th counter was servicing token number 100. My chances of him being my VO was pretty huge.
At the last moment the 21st counter opened, and a young lady came and sat down over there. And the first number that flashed on the screen was mine. Words cannot express my relief. I had a huge smile on my face as I approached her. She was a bit perplexed as to why I am smiling so much, but she did smile back.
My F1 interview went like this:
Me: I hope you are having a good morning Ma’am.( I guess she understood the pun behind the statement).
VO: (Laughing) Good morning to you too.
Me: That depends on how this goes Ma’am.
VO:(Smiling). What have you applied for?
Me: MS in Embedded Electrical and computer systems in SFSU.
VO: Good, Who is sponsoring your education?
Me: My father ma’am.
VO: Your Visa is approved, you shall receive it within a week. Enjoy your stay in the US.
I was looking at her like she was playing some cruel joke on me. I was taking out documents, financial docs and marks cards, etc., and she doesn’t ask any of it. She saw the confusion on my face, and she was like “Good morning now?”. I said ” I will accept that” and ran out.
The whole thing was over within 30 seconds. But in the counter next to hers, each interview was going on for over five mins.
My sincere advice to all visa aspirants
- You may not get lucky like me.
- I know you will all have answers to questions they might ask, But be prepared to be surprised by questions that might stump you.
- Do not sound like a tape-recorder when you are conversing with the VO. You appear less genuine, and it just doesn’t look right.
- Be relaxed, talk freely, talk clearly.
All the best for all your interviews 🙂
- I think the opening smile was the “key” here.
- Plus the answer she gave after “Good Morning”.
- Sometimes Bold and timely pep talk helps.