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Visa Guidance

Hi.. Here are my two cents on the Visa Interview. I am first going to describe my Visa interview and then going to discuss a few points about it that I feel made me secure it easily.

My Visa interview was at the Chennai Consulate, reporting time 9 am. I reached the city a day before and reached the consulate at 8:15 am. There was a huge line with about a hundred people already standing in front of me on the road and the footpath. There is no rain shelter there and weather can play havoc. I had my interview in January which is an unlikely time for it to rain in Chennai. Sky was a bit cloudy when I reached and when I was in the interview it did rain outside as well. Moral of the story is, carry some weather protection like umbrella (preferably a cheap one) when going to the interview. They won’t definitely allow you to carry it inside though but you obviously don’t want to go inside all wet. Carry a cheap umbrella and leave it outside if they say so. Do carry a bottle of water as well as it may be sunny and really hot and leave that out as well if they insist. Be prepared to wait for long durations!! I stood in the queue for about 45 min and then was let in.

I was wearing formals (with a tie) but I did see people over there in all sorts of attires from full three piece suit to jeans and T shirt. My viewpoint; wear what you want, but just be yourself. Don’t try to act. Don’t wear a suit just because you think it looks professional. Wear a formal shirt and pant, that’s enough. Women were wearing full American attires (like shirt, pant and a jacket, long skirt etc) to sarees. Don’t bother much about it. You are hardly going to get 2 min max with the VO and he shall be sitting across a window and you will be talking via a microphone. So obviously he would be more interested in listening to what you say than to see what you are wearing. Any king of religious symbols like tilak, head scarf etc should also be fine. I saw several women in head scarves and a few gentlemen with their fore heads smeared with 3-4 rows of tilak (some white powder, sorry I don’t know what it’s called) also getting Visa easily. At the max they might as you what it is or what it is called.

In the building after the initial frisking they make you sit in a number of places constantly shifting you from one place to another according to the appointment time. Keep your eyes and ears open so as to move quickly when they tell you to. There will be a pre screening area where they shall take your fingerprints and verify your appointment. Keep your Visa IV letter, Form 156, the HDFC blue slip and the passport ready here. Get it checked and go ahead.

Now there will be another set of queues, each for a different type of Visa. There will be someone to guide you where to sit. Do that as they say and then just wait for some more time. There will tell you when to go to the VO.

My VO was a middle aged White American. Really friendly fellow.

Me: Hello, Good morning Sir!

VO: Hi. Can I have your papers please?

Me: Yes, right here. (Gave him the Visa IV appointment letter, form 156 and 157 and the passport)

VO: (Reading my application) So you want to go to the US for electives. What does that mean? What is an elective?

Me: It is a short period of clinical training in the US.

VO: Can you please show me your degree certificate?

Me: I am still a student, haven’t completed my degree yet. I shall be finishing my college in Aug 2010.

VO: But you have mentioned that you attended your institution from Aug 2004 till Dec 2009.

Me: Yes, that’s right. While filling the application, the website didn’t allow me to enter any date after Dec 2009 in the drop down menu. That’s why. I have my mark sheets though, would you like to see them?

VO: No, its OK. Who would be paying for your trip?

Me: My parents.

VO: What does your father do?

Me: Both my parents are doctors.

VO: Hmmm.. Okay, enjoy your trip in the US. Your Passport will be couriered in a week’s time.

Me: Can I please collect it before that myself?

VO: Sure, you can. Call the VFS on Monday after 3 PM and find out from them.

Me: Thank you.

And so I walk out a happy man.

I am not an expert on Visa issues and standing there in the line I did see several people carrying hundreds of documents with them getting rejected. Here is what I carried with me:

1.      Invitation letter from the hospital and emails that I exchanged with the electives coordinator and the mentoring doctor.

2.      Last 6 months bank statements from both my parents and their last three years Income ax receipts. Also a letter signed by them saying that they were ready to sponsor me for my trip and stay in the US.

3.      Letter from the college saying that I was a final year student, I have been granted leave for the said period and that college has no objection in me taking a break and visiting the US.

4.      A printout of the medical school electives website for the information about the elective programe.

5.      My college ID card and mark sheets.

My strong points (as per my experience) in the Visa IV:

1.      Wish them good morning/good afternoon early on. Don’t wait for them to initiate a convo or ask a question. Helps build a good rapport. Also helps you be confident (or at least show that you are confident)

2.      Be confident. You are not a thief. You are going there so that it helps you as well as them. If they don’t give you a Visa, at the max you won’t be able to go. Nothing worse is going to happen. You still have your degree in hand. Who knows, you might be the next Nobel Prize winner in which case it’s their loss. So be bold and don’t get too nervous. VO is not a monster. :P

3.      Tell them that you are a student as early as possible. Helps clear any doubt about your potential migrant status.

4.      Be brief. Short and sweet is good. Do not elaborate unless asked.

5.      Carry all the documents you think might be important. You never know when you may need one.


All the best to all!!


Umar bhai, i must thank you and all the contributors towards the awesome resource that bears the title ''.!

I've been more or less a silent observer of the site till date and i must admit, it has changed my prospects immensely. Only a couple of months ago i was feeling its too late for applying to universities for electives; and than i read you say 'Its never too late'. Than i was wondering what'll i get and certainly wont get the field of interest, but than i read you say 'Somethiing is better than nothing'! And so i applied to many universities and to my jubilation, i got an acceptance from YALE Infectious Diseases in may, and now i find myself with an option to wait for the June-July month's approval from harvard, and if not, i can always do another month from Yale itself.

It was still too early in the day for me to celebrate, because Visa has always been my black sheep. My experience would be of no value given all that Akshay and Swapnil and Medisid and others have already covered exhaustively, but just for the dejected people; i would like to narrate my odds.

A) I have a sister in US who had her higher education from States and is now still there after completing her course.

B) I was born in Saudi

c) I have an instance of stolen passport

D) I was already rejected twice before!

And so, there i was with all the odds heavily stacked up against me, but just one faith and hope; a call letter from a good university and a pending application with Harvard, and with one feeling; i have already seen the worst they can do, i've been there before and had that; so its nothing new. Things can only get better from here if they have to. And how it went for me was unexpected

ME : Hello mam, g'morning.

VO : G'morning. Can i have ur passport and application?

ME : Sure; here it is.


VO: Have you traveled outside of India before?

ME: I was born in Saudi and came back to India when i was 2 yrs old, never after that.

VO : Why do u wanna go to states?

ME : To do my 4 weeks elective at YALE school of medicine; and hopefully another 4 ffrom Harvard medical school.

VO: Hopefully or ur confirmed(grinning)?

ME : (Bold and clear voice) My elective at yale is confirmed but unfortunately Harvard medical school notifies of the scheduling only about a month in advance of the elective begining date; so the harvard application is still pending its scheduling.

VO : Do u have any siblings?

Me : Yes.

VO : What do they do?

ME: Pardon sir? Immediatelly correcting myself to mam thrice while the VO also surprised added MAM! than repeated the question

ME: I am the only son and both of my sisters are married and are housewives

VO : What do ur parents do?

ME: We have a hospital of our own and my father is the senior consultant and surgeon while my mother is the director of the hospital

VO : So, they're both doctors...

ME: My father is a doctor and my mother owns the hospital.

(At this point i thought that the VO wa getting irritated by my comprehensive answers which were not to the point; but i knew i had to give her as many reasons as i could to make her believe i have no reason to stay back in the US and have a lot to look fwd to in India, and i also thought they need to listen to me more than speak themselves. So i had to tell her things even when she didnt ask, or maybe she would've asked in another question had i not neutralised it with my previous answer leaving no doubts untouched.)

VO: (Writing an A on my application) : How did u get ur elective?

ME: I found out all about the application requirements on the internet and i applied to the university and i got accepted.

VO: Yes, i know, but i mean they are ususally very competetive so how did u get it?

ME : I dont know, maybe because i had good scores and a good CV; (with a smile) and besides, someone has to be luckier than the rest!

VO: Okay, i've approved ur visa and you'll get ur passport in a weeks time

ME: Thank you!

As u might notice, she didnt ask for a single document. Not the financial statement, not the deans letter, not the letter of support, not the college verification, not even the universities acceptance!!! Or maybe it was because she saw me with a bundle of documents nicely organised and tabbed in case she asked and figured out i'd be very quick in retrieval and show her whatever she asks, so didnt bother... Who knows, but i sure got lucky. Didnt ask about my previous rejection, didnt ask for the stolen passport, nor about my sister in US...

And there i was, once walking away dejected, and here i am; everything nice and organised in life to the order of specifications of dates even and sure of whats going to come up. All i can say, it'll always be too soon to loose hope, and enthusiasm merits opportunities. And sometimes it helps to consider that u've got nothing to loose. Dead donkeys dont fear a wolf; so u can forget about the wolf and do what is in ur hands to do. That is ur own life to shape and no external force can change ur life away from what ur destiny holds and the will of god.


Hi Mohit Thanks a lot for

umar's picture

Hi Mohit

Thanks a lot for your valuable contirbution... I have created a new webpage for this experience and have made you one of the authors... thanks again for your valuable contribution...

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.

Good stuff.

Good stuff Akshay, and congrats. I hope it works out for me to. I have my interview tomorrow and letter from YALE and a pending application at Harvard...

Best of luck mohit!

umar's picture

Best of luck mohit!

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.

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