Got my VISA stamping done today! All that amount of preparation turned out to be useless! Here’s the story:
I got my interview scheduled for today, the 3rd of July, at the Chennai consulate, and I got the 0730 Hrs slot 😦 ! Had to get up early… I had prepared my documents over the previous week – All the fee receipts, and father’s bank statements, balance sheets, IT returns, chartered accountant statements, affidavits – got it all arranged in a “harmonium file” as it is called, because of the way it looks 🙂 .
My father drove me to the venue in the morning. I got to the embassy at 7:00 AM and as I walked to the gates, an auto driver at the auto stand stopped me and showed a photo sample, said this is how a VISA photo should look like, 50mm x 50mm with a white background! It struck me just then.. what a business strategy! Catch the VISA appicants in the last hour, and tell them they need a new photo, and then tell them you know where it can be got in 5 min! He could demand a fortune for that favour! But I was having none of that, I had all my papers checked by my counsellor at Edwise International, and so these things were already covered. I was ready for my stamping.
We got to enter immediately, being in the first time slot. First up, there were counters for fingerprint. I just got reminded here, America is the epitome of Hypocrisy! They say it is for their security, what goes of my privacy?! Even before I land in the USA, they have my fingerprints, as though I am a criminal! Anyway, had to do this too, so went on with the procedure. The lady at the counter took my prints, and asked for some important documents like the appointment letter, the VISA fee receipt, the DS-156, 157 and 158 forms, my I-20, SEVIS Fee payment receipt, my passport, and my degree certificate (without my marksheet), and compiled it into a small file. I then walked with my Harmonium File and this new transparent file to the next building, into what was called the VISA lounge. It was still only 07:15 AM, so I sat there, watching the others constantly shuttle between the bubble-top water dispenser and their seats. The news channel TIMES NOW was put on, in silent, on a LCD screen. I just got informed, that India lost to Pakistan last night, in cricket that is. Pakistan could chase a mammoth total of 308 with ease!
The VISA Officers didnot come at 0730 hrs. No sight of them even at 0745 hrs. By the time they got started, it was almost 0810 hrs. I got my turn by 0820 hrs. My VO was an American, wore rimless glasses, and had brown hair, well most of it was gone, his forehead was bare, but anyway… Here’s how it went:
Me: Good Morning Sir!
VO: Good morning! Can I have the file
(I gave him the transparent file. Remember, I am still holding my Harmonium File, with my marksheets, bank statements, mutual fund papers, property sale papers, my father’s sponsoring letter, a CA Certificate, a loan sanction letter and a whole bunch of other stuff)
VO: So why have you chosen George Mason University?
Me: GMU is good at Computer Network Design. I wish to specialize in this field because it has good scope in India, and there aren’t any colleges offering this as a specialization degree.
(WOW! I knew that was it! All the points on his checklist must have been ‘tick’, with this one 2 line answer!)
VO: Ok, good. What do your parents do?
Me: They are both into business. My father is into… (And I explained my parent’s work)
VO: Ok. Your VISA will reach you by courier.
Me: (Huh! WTF! You dont even want to know who my sponsor is? Or if he has sufficient funds. You dont care if I return to India or not?) Thank you sir!
…And that was it! I returned home, with the 10 rupees I had hid inside my file. I hear many had problems getting their VISA. Orkut is full of accounts where VISAs were denied on grounds that “You sound like a potential immegrant” or “I dont believe your father can sustain after funding your education”, or simply, “I am not happy with your answers, come back for another interview later”…!!
Anyway, this was a good experience. This was the only thing in the entire procedure of applying for a master’s degree in the USA, the outcome of which was not in my hands. It seems I am good to go now! Exactly 1 month from now, I will be just a few meters away from Barak Obama!
At the moment, I am just gearing up for this next curb…