We have all waited for the month of May to arrive for this article. Ideally this article should have been up at the start or mid of April however with the delays in the decision making process for most of the Universities in the US this semester, 1st week of May would be the ideal time to put this up.
By now most of you students might have received a handful of admits and might have even decided on your universities. By the time some of you read this article, your Visa process might already have been done even, but this is for the students who are yet to get done with their Visa interviews.
The key to a successful clearance of the Visa Interview is projecting strong confidence during the Interview. You have selected your university wisely, you have done your research on the university you are going to, you have your academic scores in hand, you have your GRE/GMAT and TOEFL/IELTS scores in hand and you know your future goals. Expressing these factors confidently during those couple of minutes of the Visa Interview will do wonders for you.
Let me start describing the process for the Visa formalities for you. Similar to the manner you worked on your University applications, you need to fill in the Visa form which is called as the DS-160. You can find the form on US consular website and you can fill it in parts as the form can be saved after every step. There are multiple steps in this form and you need to sit with the i-20 of the University you are going to along with your Passport while filling out this form.
Once you submit this form, you need to fill a 2nd form which is for the booking of the Visa appointment. You can find this form on CGI federal website. You need to create your new login id here and fill in the form. Remember that you are applying for a non-immigrant visa and under that the Visa category you are applying for is F-1. This form can’t be filled completely as you will come to a point in the form wherein they will ask you to pay the Visa fees ($160 = Rs. 10400) at either Citibank or Axis Bank. Whike doing so, you need to generate a receipt, print it, take it to the nearest Axis Bank or the designated Citibank of your City and pay the amount (Rs. 10400) at the Teller Counter. Once you pay these fees, in the next 4 hours your online account will be activated and you can go ahead and book the Visa dates. You need to select 2 dates wherein 1 date is for your actual Visa interview while the 2nd is for the OFC appointment wherein you’ll get your finger scanning done along with they clicking your Photo for the Visa at the US Travel Doc Office near the registered Consulate. Remember that the OFC date should be prior to the main interview date and even a 1 day gap between both is fine.
Next you can pay the SEVIS Fees at www.fmjfee.com by using your credit card. You need to fill in your i-20 details in this form which include your SEVIS Number and the School Telecode Number. The payment to be done here is $200 and done by using a credit card.
Kindly remember that the website provides you with an option to select the time for your interview and the OFC appointment. Hence, be careful while selecting the same. For your OFC Appointment, you need to carry along with you the DS-160 Confirmation, i-20, Passport, SEVIS Fee Receipt, Visa Appointment Letter and the Axis/Citi Bank Receipt.
During your Visa Interview, you need to carry the above mentioned documents along with your Academic Documents, Financial Documents (from the sponsors), GRE/GMAT & TOEFL/IELTS Scorecards, decision letters from other Universities, Resume and SOP. The Visa interview might not last more than 2 minutes but yes, all the efforts put in by in the last 1 year boils down to these 2 minutes. Pressure and stress are justified but careful research and going in strong with your goals will help you calm your nerves up to a very large extent and it will surely get you a successful result at the interview.
The US Visa unlike the other country Visas give you the decision immediately after the interview. The result can either be Accepted/Approved which will surely make you happy and you can be extremely cheerful while getting out of the consulate as the Visa Officer will keep your passport with him/her and you can collect the stamped passport next day from the OFC Office or they can reject the Visa by issuing the Form 214b which is a general letter describing that you are a potential immigrant. In such unfortunate event, don’t lose hope and don’t argue with the office. Accept the decision gracefully and move out of the consulate. Your actions post this might influence their decision during the next attempt of the interview.
There can be a 3rd result too wherein they can give you the form 221g. Don’t be scared by this, this is not a rejection. 221g is issued by the consulate in case of any doubts regarding your background or doubts regarding your future goals or doubts regarding your documents. 221g can be issued for minutest of reasons like slightly tampered or torn marksheets or passport. You need to be careful with regards to these factors while going for the Visa Interview. With the issuance of 221g, the Visa Officer needs you to submit some extra documents within a span of 15 days (generally) at the Consulate. They can ask you to submit your SOP, Employment records or academic records. Statistically, Ph.D. candidates are more prone to the 221g as the Visa Officer needs to understand the projects that you wish to pursue and details about your research guide. They might mail your research guide to obtain details about your research too. This can be held true in case of some Master’s Students especially if you mention details about some sensitive research topics.
They offer you the 221g slip which explains the process for the next course of action and you need to fill up a form on their website and submit the same along with the required documents within the stipulated time. The consulate will take some time to review these documents and they send you the result through email and once the Visa is approved through this process, all you need to do is, go to the OFC Center with your passport, submit it there and they’ll stamp you passport and hand it over to you in couple of days’ time. The timeline for the 221g application processing is undefined and it can take up to a month for them to give their decision. Patience is the key here.
I hope these details will help you a lot with your Visa process and I wish all of you All the Best for your Visa Interview. Hope all of you make it to the land of your dreams in the next couple of months’ time.