US Visa Application and Visa Interview Process for Indian Nationals

Type of Visa: You will be applying for a Non-Immigrant F-1 (Student) US Visa.

Applying for a Visa:

Create an account on: https://cgifederal.secure.force.com/?language=English&country=India

Complete the DS-160 Form which is an online visa application form. It will be available on the above website once you register. It is a long and comprehensive form, so be prepared to set aside an hour to fill it out. Be sure to read the Guidelines for Completing the DS-160 Form carefully before starting work on the form. Once the form is submitted, you cannot make any changes to it. So double-check the form and all the details before you hit Submit.

You will need your DS-160 number to schedule your VAC & Visa interview.

Scheduling the VAC and Visa Interview:

You will first have to schedule an appointment at a Visa Application Center (VAC) prior to your visa interview. Biometric information including fingerprints and digital photographs will be collected at the VAC. You must schedule the VAC appointment at least one day before the visa interview appointment date.

What to carry to the VAC –

  • A printout of the appointment confirmation form
  • DS-160 Confirmation form
  • Passport

DO NOT carry electronics of any kind, mobile phones or any other documents. Electronics are not allowed inside the center and any other documents apart from what I’ve mentioned above are absolutely unnecessary. Don’t even take your university admit letter.

Reach the VAC center 30mins before your appointment time. It is useless reaching there any earlier than that as you will not be allowed in. Dress Casual.

Visa Interview:

I was very stressed before the interview, but in retrospect there was no reason to be! I scheduled my visa interview in Hyderabad, India. There’s a lot of waiting time involved – from the minute I reached the visa center to the moment I got out, the full process took about 2 hours. The visa interview lasted exactly 2 minutes. I was asked:

Why do you want to go to the USA?

May I see your i20?

What is this graduate program you’re pursuing?

[My i20 had “Engineering, Other” as the Graduate program listed]

Did you write the GMAT or GRE? How much did you score on the GMAT?

[He was mightily impressed by my GMAT score, and his tone was considerably warmer after hearing it. He bantered a bit about schools in the US and GMAT scores]

What other schools did you apply to? Did you get in anywhere else?

How do you plan to pay for this extremely expensive program? 😛

And that was it. My interviewer did not look at any of the papers that I took along. I even asked him to look at the financials that were in front of him to verify my claims of being able to pay for school, but he emphasized his dislike for paperwork and mentioned he would take me at my word. However this does not mean you should be lax about taking all the required paperwork to your visa interview.

The documents you will need are:

  • Printout of Visa Appointment letter
  • A stamped DS-160 form (the stamp will be placed after your VAC appointment)
  • i20 issued by your school
  • Payment confirmation of SEVIS fee
  • University admission letter
  • Proof of funds showing you have made arrangements to fund your degree (this could be a loan/financial aid approval letter from the university, proof of a scholarship offer, personal bank account statements or a bank letter, sponsor statement of support or any combination of these)

Optional:

  • Official GMAT score printout
  • College transcripts and Degree Certificate
  • Documents confirming work experience (Experience Letters or Payslips)

You will not know for sure if your visa is approved immediately after the interview. A student visa typically takes 2 days to get issued.

You can check your visa status by entering your DS-160 number and interview location in this page: https://ceac.state.gov/CEACStatTracker/Status.aspx?eQs=WwjqOlbeRYzCYubaSQI+RA==

Once your visa is approved and your passport is stamped, you will get an email from the US Embassy stating that your passport is ready to be picked up.

You can track your passport here – http://ustraveldocs.com/in/in-niv-passporttrack.asp

Good luck with your visa interviews and let me know if you have any questions about the process in the comments below!