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Whizzing through the Visa!

by MediSid!


"If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants/predecessors." – Sir Isaac Newton.

So during my visa preparation, I got good guidance from,, and of course this website and Umar bhai.
The following is my perception and account of the visa hassles I went through to gain my Visitor Visa for electives. I got acceptance from NIH in mid September and from that time I started preparing for my visa interview. I had researched a lot about the visitor visa before and knew that this process is very dicey. So was very freaked about it as I had some shortcomings. Basically, there are three things one should prove to the Visa Officer during the interview. They are the following in order of decreasing importance.

1.    Purpose of Visit: For us it is the elective acceptance letter from a GOOD place. Even though I had acceptance from Northwestern, but I did not mention it because my NOC from dean didn’t mention it. And my NIH tag had a VERY positive effect on the VO.
2.    Intent to return: This is easily proved by the letter from dean stating our expected date of graduation, NOC for elective period , approval from dean about that elective, submission of certificates with admissions office.
Because of the peculiar nature of electives, both the above criteria are easily met and the mere mention of electives to the VO makes him believe that he is going for an important task and will come back for sure to complete his MBBS.
3.    Finances: To prove that I can sustain myself in USA. I was in a fix as my Dad is retired and has not believed in liquid investment. So making him a sponsor was risky because he didn’t have much IT return or bank balance. Other alternatives were my brother-in-law in USA or my brother in UK. I choose the latter because sponsoring from US relatives has a very bad effect on your intent to return.
4.    Itinerary: This is also important as it provides a positive boost to your intent to return. For this I had to book a place and have a booking confirmation letter and the details of flight date, airport leaving, arriving etc.
Having made the above decisions I collected numerous documents. I arranged them in four categories to take for interview and to help in retrieving them fast if asked by VO during interview. Also I put paper tabs on important ones to make retrieval more efficient.
Category A (Electives related)
1.    Email Acceptance letter from NIH. (Remember GOOD university has a great impact)
2.    NOC from Dean of home school.
3.    Letter of Accommodation near NIH. I got it at the last minute from a very lovely and helpful lady whom Umar bhai recommended as he also stayed at her place near NIH. Other cheap options are to book beds at with only 10% down payment (refundable). For a month it was coming to around 80$. Another option is to find an accommodation and get a letter from them stating that you have booked a room from them and will pay $$$$ rent on arrival. Other option is state the address of University you are going and fill in the contact details of your elective co-ordinator/visiting students’ in-charge and when asked during interview say that the university will help you in finding housing.
4.    Flight itinerary. I went to Indian Airlines website and found a flight to Washington (nearest airport to NIH) 2 days before and ahead of my elective period and printed out its details (the page before paying through your credit card). I had planned that if VO asked me if I had booked the ticket, I would say that my travel agent wants a copy of visa before booking ticket, but this is the flight I am going to take, if granted the visa.
5.    Application submission email from NIH.
6.    FAQs and other details of your elective from the university website.
7.    All other correspondence with University regarding elective application.

Category B (Finances)
1.    Letter of support from brother(sponsor). One on plain paper stating that I, Bromedisid S/o, R/o etc is brother of medisid and am working as a doctor in XYZ hospital with $$$$$$ annual salary on fulltime basis. I have personal savings in bank of about $$$$$. I intend to provide for all the following expenses, but not limited to return airfare to USA, domestic travel within usa, food and lodging, medical insurance. I understand that this elective is of xxx months duration. Another one I also took with me was filled I-134 ‘letter of support’ form from him.(though it usually is used by US residents sponsoring visitors there)
2.    Employment letter of brother from his Office stating his status, salary, and time since employment.
3.    Pay slips of brother and his IT returns.
4.    His Bank statements for the last 6 months.
5.    His passport copy with his UK visa.

Category C (Intent to return)
1.    CA letter listing the immovable assets and bank balance of my parents.
2.    Father’s IT return and his Bank statement.
3.    Affidavit from self stating I intend to go for only elective and my brother will pay and I will return back as I have to complete my internship, graduate and also to look after old parents who are partially dependent upon me....blah blah...

Category D (Miscellaneous)
1.    Xerox copy of property papers.
2.    Sister’s GC copy (I had to mention her on form and one should carry a proof that any of your relative in US in there legally)
3.    Certificates Xerox copies of X, XII, research awards etc.

My interview at New Delhi.
Even though I don’t belong to delhi consulate district I chose it because of its acquaintance with students going for electives. All my letters were addressed to US Embassy, New Delhi . After I had amassed all the above documents, I booked the earliest date and went to delhi two days before the interview.

Interview practice questions:
I had several flaws in my applications which could make the VO raise his eyebrows and ask questions. I prepared their answers well. eg
Why is your brother paying ,why not your father.? Because my bro promised that if I did good in medschool and got selected for this elective he would pay for this US trip as a complimentary gift.
Are you planning to visit your sister? No, because I am going there primarily for electives and I don’t have much leave from my college to visit her, but my sister and her family will try to visit me on any of the weekends.  Know all the details about my sister.
Are you interested in residency? Yes if I get an opportunity to get training  Hematology, because it is an ignored specialty here in India.
Why are you going to NIH? What will you do there? What is your subject area? Is this disease common here?

Interview Day.

Was Dressed to kill with tie, blazer and formal . YES!. I wanted to look a professional.  But I felt a bit overdressed, other people were in normal shirts and pants. Even the VO too. But I didn’t want to take any chances in professionalism. Left mobile at home, took only the papers in a plastic bag. Took an auto to US embassy, he dropped me at the gate where visa section is. I was surprised to find a huge crowd of applicants and their well wishers there. I felt ALONE! I went to the entry guard post. He checked my name on interviewee list and passport and made me enter a security check room. I was frisked and then passed onto a hall with pseudo-open roof. I was given a paper token and the visa helper staff came to check my application and stapled my photo on it. There was a huge crowd there and made friends with few people around me. I was waiting for my number token to flash on the LCD tvs. Then my token # flashed to go to counter 9 or sth. Through a long open hallway I entered the interview hall. At that counter I was asked to hand over my application forms 156, 157, HDFC receipt and passport. The lady there checked them, used the stickers of HDFC on passport and I asked her that I need to make some additions on form. She said you can overwrite them simply and legibly. I added my address of stay and itinerary, by a black pen. Then at a common counter I was asked to get my fingerprinting done.
Next was the hardest moment; waiting for my interview. There were numerous counters like in a sophisticated post office and people were sitting in the hall at the numerous chairs waiting for their turn and eyeing the interview process of the applicant standing at the counter. I could hear their answers, but not the VO. Some came happy and some dejected. But on the whole I saw majority of b1/2 visa were granted visa on the counter.
Just before my turn, I was made to stand at a distance behind the counter. When the person ahead of me went away the VO nodded me to come over. The VO was a white male 35yrs old and appeared strict.
VO-*nod-(come here)*
ME –Good Morning
VO- Staring at computer and typing the previous case. (10/20 seconds). Then asked for my passport and forms. I handed over to him through the hole below the glass wall. He flipped through the passport pages to check if I have any visas or previous foreign visits.
VO-On seeing the 156 form. ‘So. You are going to NIH!’
ME- ‘Yes!’
VO- ‘How did you come to know about it?’
ME- ‘From the internet I knew about NIH, searched their programs and this was an opportunity for medical students and I got selected.’
VO-‘How long will you stay there?’
ME- ‘4 weeks’
VO-‘When are you graduating from here?’
ME-‘June 2010. I have the letter from my dean. Do you want to see it?’
VO-No response and typing-staring at computer. ‘Who is your course mentor there?’
ME- ‘Dr Caterina Minniti.’
VO- Who?
ME- ‘Dr Caterina Minniti.’ (I feel he was checking to make sure she was a white and not a desi)
VO-‘What are you going to do research there on?’(he got confused in it being a research elective)
ME- ‘Sickle Cell Anemia’
VO- ‘Is this disease common here?’
Me- ‘Not very common, but it being a part of hematology, I want to make a career in hematology thats why I want to do it. Blah blah.................I though I had bungled it and since sickle cell is not very common here, he would not justify my going there. The VO started typing in computer and I got depressed thinking that he is typing the reasons for my rejection.
Then VO said ‘This will take time, please wait and someone at next counter will ask you more questions.’ He kept my passport. I got relieved thinking that there are chances I may have got the visa.
The counter opened and an Indian lady came and said your case is pending and right now we cannot decide whether to give you visa or not. I replied saying I understand and will wait. She said that you will get email intimation. I was expecting this as I knew I would be put on administrative processing and I had no regrets as long as I am going to get the visa. I had time and I am happy to bear with their process to do extensive security check to strengthen their borders. I left the consulate with springy happy steps met my new friends there who interviewed with me and reached home and called everyone whom I had requested for prayers and support. I also met a med stud there going to JHU for research elective. He had gone to numerous European tours and he was asked just 1-2 questions by the VO as I saw from my seat and then granted the visa. So previous visits/visa to Europe etc are a plus plus.

All that matters to him is where and why are you going and how confidently you answer the questions. He was shooting straight Qs like an experienced sniper, intending to catch me off guard. But I think I had answered them fine. The NIH tag did all the groundwork and since NIH is a US Govt Agency, they rarely reject visa for people going there as I was told by people.

‘In a nutshell, he gave me the visa without even looking at any of the papers except the forms 156.157 which I had so painstakingly procured and arranged with tabs and labels. *sigh*’

Sequel: I had my security check done in 5 days, passport reached my hands within 10 days.     *10 year multiple entry*. 

                         ‘Alls well that ends well’

Best Wishes & Pass it on!

visa rejection for electives

hey i m final year medical student from bjmc ahmedabad,,i got selected for my electives in cardiology at cleavland clinic va centre..but i got rejected twice for visitor i dnt knw wht to do ?should i apply again?coz all of my frnds who r wid me got accepted for visa in 1st time..plz help me..and any other option avalilable for me?i have given step 1 usmle and got 244 in tht.

And i m really looking forward for my opportunities to do residency in usa..plz guide me with whtever options avalilable

multiple electives??

hi.. i'm currently completing my internship in maharashtra - india and i really do want to get into a psych residency only (i know.. i know.. :P)

 anyway i'v been accepted to northwestern for january in liaison psych and rochester and cornell as well.

i really need to know how worth it is to get a multiple electives done? because money is a bit of a problem, and i'v heard psych is pretty easy to get compared to int med and pediatrics.

so really want to know if i should accept rochester and cornell in addition to northwestern.

also even though cornell is ivy league - they are giving me a not so great elective - child psych compared to rochester - inpatient psych. also i'v heard that doing an elective in rochester might impress them to take me on for residency later whereas cornell being big- shot and all wouldn't really care much.

so really confused about which to choose, and if i should as well. isnt a month sufficient?

this website has helped me tremendously. it's a boon for anyone who's managed to stumble upon it.i have relied on it right from choosing which universities to apply to to preparing for my visa interview (and getting a ten year.. :) )

 thank you so much for all the good work and all the effort taken by the contributors.

i hope someone can help me out

thanks so much


Regarding NIH Sickle Cell Anemia

Dear Medisid,

Could you please guide me about NIH Sickle Cell Anemia, as I am accepted to do a rotation there in Jan 2012.

What should you study and how should you prepare..


Consulate Confusion...

Is there any hard and fast rule that you can only apply to the consulate you come under.......i come under Chennai consulate...but i want to opt for New Delhi consulate as it is more familiar with electives and USCE.....ny1 with a similar experince ....please guide me .....i m in a fix....!!!

hi medisid, did you go to NIH

hi medisid,

did you go to NIH for sickle cell, can you please briefly share your clinical experience?


thanks for d info dude! Btw, mind u (they haven't put this up on der
websyt) Emory has longer the system of finding a faculty sponsor from
now... u have 2 apply lyk any other university.. I learnt dis d hard way
when after battling and managing to find a sponsor in 3-4 months, the
co-ordinator left me dumbfounded wid dis new policy :( ... as of now the
sponsorship status of mine does not have any value in my application n i
may b granted an elective only if space is available... :( :(


Thanks for replyin mate.. but as i said the NIH acceptance letter states that I am accepted for April 2011.. However I want a B-1 visa from Feb 2011 (hoping dat my elective at Emory gets approved)..

can i manage this on the basis of NIH acceptance letter? I mean won't d VO ask why do u want it from Feb when u got acceptance from April? excuse my ignorance as I am not aware of the visa process



Regarding NIH and Visa

I don't think it will matter. As far as i know they give you a visa starting from the date of interview.

For Eg...I know one of my friend who has been granted a visa just for 6 months and single entry. When the passport reached him via post, he got to know that the expiry date of visa is 6 months from the day when he gave his interview. 

So you don't have to worry if your anticipated electives start before your confirmed electives.

P.S. - Please share how you found sponsors for Emory. I'm interested in IM electives for june-july-august 2011. Please guide.


@umar bhai and any1 who can help

i have a cards elective from NIH for April 2011... my appliction at emory for feb n march elective slots is still i was keen to get my tourist visa work done by december. however there's a problem..

my NIH elective is at d end of my alective period (in april).. so obviously d NIH ppl will send d visa letter stating thae period of april.. however i do not know if i'l b accepted/rejected at emory... ideally it would have been best for me to have a visa from feb 2011... however. i dun have any letter as emory thng isnt confirmed..

how do i go abt dis to get a visa from feb 2011? is it possibl in d 1st place??



Apply with your NIH acceptance Letter/email

You can apply for B1/B2 visa with your NIH acceptance Letter/email. You do not need a specific letter from NIH stating your requirement about B1/B2 visa, though it would have been an added asset if you have it. Carry Foreign affairs manual page 17 along and it alone will do. 


dude when r u goin to bethesda????

could anyone give me any info

could anyone give me any info about residence in bethesda for my elective for NIH in july so i could make arrangements, plz do help me thanku

I used craigslist. You can

umar's picture

I used craigslist. You can try it!

I am very busy these days and won't be replying to anymore queries. Apologies for any inconvenience and thank you for your understanding. All the best.

Visa Experience

vaibhav's picture

  Hey Friends,



I just got my Visa approved so i thought i will share my experience with u so that u get a picture. First i will describe about visa n then i will answer FAQs about it..


How to apply..

Ok Applying for a visa is very simple...

Step 1 - Go to a HDFC bank which provides a Visa receipt after taking Visa fees.. You will get 2 receipts .. keep them safely with u. they take one or 2 days to get activated.

Step 2 - Go to this site .. Fill in properly the form DL160 with proper information.. note that once u put in info here it cannot be changed.. so practice before submitting ur application.. After u successfully fill the form u will get a conformation of application.. take a print out.. u will get a bar code over it... then go to the above site and click the option ' make an appointment' .. go on filling it carefully..   u will need to enter ur HDFC receipt no ther n also ur bar code of dl 160 form.. then u have to select ur date u desire.. time u cannot select..

Thats it u get ur Appointment letter.. take a print out of ur both dl 160 form n appointment letter..

Keep these things safely 1. HDFC receipt  2. Appointment letter. 3. DL- 160 form.


Procedure Done.....  :)


Ok now let me tell about my interview...

My appointment was at 8 o clock in the morning...

I woke up at 5.30.. got ready . i was wearing a formal shirt , a tie n black polished shoes .. with a clean shaved face.. n a smile on my face :) ( this is very imp) . went to the embassy at 6.30.. they allowed us inside only at 7... but as i had been early .. i got to the interiew after just  or 6 candidates...

ok now the Interview.


my no. came.. i went and greeted the officer.. he was an American.. he greeted me back..

Q!. ok why do u wish to go to the U.S?

A. Sir i wish to go there to do my clinical electives and appear for my step 2 C.S exam.


Q2. What is electives?

A. sir it is a short course for undergraduate students done to improve their clinical knowledge.


Q3. Ok do u have a acceptance letter?

 A. Yes sir here it is.


Q4. Who is sponsoring u?

A. My father sir. Do u wish to see the financial report of our assets ?


He said no its fine..


Q5. when will u return?

A. i will return as soon as i appear for my step 2 exam sir.. most probably on the 15th may.


Q6. what is ur step 2 location?

A. Sir i hav applied now n i am yet to recieve the scheduling permit. i ha registered n made payments . Do u wish to see the print outs?


He said no... then he did smethin in the computer for few minutes.. then He said alright ..'' You are all set.. your Visa is approved ''  and it will return to u by post..

I said thank u very much for ur time sir... :


Was damn Happy as i was very worried earlier.. :) .. All well That ends well ...


Special thanks to Siddiqui and Pranati for all their Help :) 


congo vaibhav!

Vaibhav... really glad 2 hear dat u got ur visa!! btw, which univ did u get acceptance from for electives???

yes really great

yes really great job..........

plzz i need advice...


i m a doctor and just started studying for my steps and gonna marry  a greencard holder...

i would like to u know wat u  guys would adivce  as the best path to for me to go to US now

to pursue my steps and get a residency ..

some have adviced me to go on kaplan live lectures visa

while others suggest mph.....

plss kindly reply as to wats the best thing for me to do...

i would really appreciate it


 hi  have u applied for

umar's picture


have u applied for immigration visa or not???

if yes, u cannot apply for any other visa unless u get ur immigration visa... if not, m not sure... probably mph or steps and residency sounds to be the most suitable option...

I am very busy these days and won't be replying to anymore queries. Apologies for any inconvenience and thank you for your understanding. All the best.

@ Medsid

Hey that's really great info!!

I am doing my internship at hyderabad...Am planing to go hopkins for a research elective n ve to go for the visa..

Can u please mail me a copy of the NOC certificate that u got frm ur coll...

Congrats for NIH..i also had tried applying but my college profs n dean were too lazy to reply to their mail :(

I havent applied to any other place for clinical kind of tensed up..



@ trishna

sorry guys for my late reply!

the NOC that i prepared was totally crude and developed on the lines of UT visa help page. I cudnt find it on my computer, must have got deleted.


1st paragraph decribed me as a final year (internshp) student at my college, with good standing.

2nd para stated that i applied to this electives with my dean's recommendation and got slected for this month and my dean has gives me permisiion to do this elective during the month of february

3rd para stated that i have not yet graduated and will grad after my return from US. and all my high school diplomas, documents are submitted in my college office and will be released only upon graduation, which is after my return from US.

Thats it. Just form those lines above with ur info and fill in the info.

Best Wishes


  this is really informative,

  this is really informative,  hope it works for me !

good job medisid



Awesome going bro man... i reallly like ur approach.... u plan everything to the last detail!.. anyways Congrats!

@ Siddiqui

vaibhav's picture

3 cheers to Siddiqui... Its not easy to get a 10 year multiple entry visa ... This just proves If there is a will There is a Visa :)   Congrats Bro..

Thank You!

Thank you purav and vaibhav bro-s.

I was really freaked abt the visa and it came as a good surprise. Best of luck to all of you too, when your turn comes. Then fill in your experiences.

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