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Visa experience of a prospective F1 Student

Name : Perumal
Consulate : Mumbai
Counter : 34
Course: MS in Biomedical

OFC Appointment : It was scheduled at 8.30 a.m. I reached at 7.45 but was allowed in immediately because of the lack of rush. Documents required include:
  1. Passport,
  2. DS-160 Confirmation and
  3. Appointment Letter.

The process is very swift. Hardly any queue finished in 10 minutes.
TIP: Arrive a bit early, most of the times there is no wait so they allow you to enter early!

Visa Interview : 10 minutes - 5th July.
Ate a good breakfast, and had a glass of juice before leaving my house.

In the Mumbai consulate the line starts from outside the main doors. My appointment was at 7.45, arrived at 6.45 and stood in the line. Waited in the line for about 70-80 minutes to get inside the main visa interview building, since there were about 150+ people ahead of me in line.

Once inside they scan your I-20, passport and attach a piece of paper with your token number, ask you to go into a line to get your fingerprints scanned (since the fingerprints are taken beforehand, the VO does not ask you to scan your fingers after approval of visa).

After this I waited in the area where there were around 10-15 counters. But because it was early morning only one was active. Within 15 minutes though another 8 opened. Because there were 150+ people ahead of me, I had to wait for another 40 minutes inside (the toughest part is this waiting period, where your mind wanders).

About 15 minutes before my number flashed, managed to find someone to talk to which lowered the stress by large magnitudes.

Finally my number was called to counter number 34. A sweet lady in her 40's was the VO. She spent 2 minutes looking at my I-20, while she was doing so I said Stony Brook University Mam. She smiled and then:

VO- First Question- Why this university, please do not give me a speech.
Me-Answer- I want to work under Prof Entecheva who is working on Heart valves.
VO- Oh Wow, that sound so interesting, what method is she using, Stem Cells?
Me- No not stem cells because of the ethics issue and other restrictions, she is using cultured heart cells.
VO- That sounds very interesting, I meet so many students doing interesting research. (spent 10 minutes talking about negatives of artificial heart valves, why this research is very important etc). During the conversation she asked future plans nonchalantly, I replied a Ph.D. since I want to return back to become a professor in the IIT's.
VO- Oh very good, I like your research topic, and I am approving your Visa. Make sure to take your I-20 with you when you arrive in the States, the passport will be available in 3-5 days.

Luckily my visa interview was very short. The guy before me who was going to Carnegie Melon was drilled for 15 minutes before being granted the visa.

Some Thoughts: This year they are very lenient in approving visa because of the bad state of their economy. So chances of getting approved are very easy. While my visa interview was a breeze, at times if you are unlucky you might be drilled. So make sure to be prepared with answers for the following questions:
For Students with work experience - take your updated Resume for the Interview.

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