Student VISA

Fall 2016 Visa Experience: (Mumbai Consulate | Southern Methodist University(SMU) | Networks and Telecommunications)

Yocket Editorial Team

(Long Post but Worth A Read as it’s the Most Unique Visa Experience Ever)

University: Southern Methodist University(SMU)
Course- MS in Networks and Telecommunications

First Attempt

Mumbai Consulate
Date: July 2016
Counter No- 31

VO: Good Morning Sir..!! (VO was a lady in her mid 40's)
(Passed my Passport & I20) Good Morning Ma'am... How are you? (With a smile)

VO: How many Universities have you applied?
5 Universities Ma'm. SIT, RIT, SMU, GMU And NEU (all full forms), out of which I selected SMU.

VO: Why did you choose this particular University?
The main reason would be the beauty of their course curriculum, I found it to be very varied & diverse in nature as it covers all the imp topics right from Telecommunication Networks to Wireless Communication standards.
-Also, their course curriculum specifically emphasizes on core network topics like MPLS, BGP & VPN's , these topics I am very keen to learn.
-Apart from this, I have recently learnt from their website that they have updated all their network labs with the latest Cisco Devices.

VO: When did you complete your under graduation?
Ma'am, I had completed my under graduation education in 2011.

VO: 5 years... [Frown look & Eyes wide open] you have worked for 5 years since then.
Yes Ma'am, I was associated with an IT firm named XXX as a Network... (Interrupted)

VO: (In a complete off-mood) so why do you want to do your master's now?
Ma'm, after all these years of my experience, I realized my knowledge still remained very basic & superficial. I ... (Interrupted)

VO: Who are your sponsors?
My father, he is a Government Employee & his annual income is XX lpa.

VO: (showing I20) This is a huge amount (~46k$), how is he suppose to pay for your tuition fees?
Ma'm for the funding parts, I have fixed savings worth (double the I20 amt) in terms of FDs, PF and bank balance... (Interrupted)

VO: I'm sorry sir... I cannot approve your visa... didn't allow me to say a word, asked me step aside and called in the next guy... Meanwhile I stood completely Shocked.

It took me a while to recuperate from the trauma & ordeal and since it was my first Visa rejection, the ensuing failure hit me too hard. On one hand, I had all my friends excited about their approvals & making awesome plans about their first visit to US in our Whatsapp group, on the other hand, it was me (silently reading all their messages) sitting alone forlornly cussing my fate, wondering as to what exactly went wrong & why it always has to be ME?, later on, decided to try again but was too late as all slots were post orientation so had to defer my admission to SPRING' 2017.


Second Attempt

Mumbai Consulate
Date: November 2016
Counter No- 24

ME: Good morning, Sir! How are you? (With a big smile)
(a guy in his 30's) Good morning...Sir! Which program have you applied for?
ME: Sir, it's Master's in Telecommunications & Networking at SMU.

VO: Apart from SMU, where else have you applied?
SIT, RIT, GMU And NEU (full form)

VO: So, why this university only?
Said the same ans verbatim & word-by-word from the 1st attempt.

VO: What's your GRE Score?

VO: How do you plan to fund your education as the amount is quite high?
Sir, last time I had only one sponsor... this time I have added two more sponsors to corroborate my candidature. For the funding part, same answer as stated earlier.

VO: (Started typing) Handed over the docs, Sorry sir, I cannot approve your visa.
Sir, may I please know the reason?

VO: (Handed over a 214b) Everything is mentioned in it, Sir.

Heads down & Crestfallen took my docs & walked away. I Tried again for my next Visa Interview assuring myself that irrespective of the outcome, this would be my "Last & Final Attempt".


Third Attempt

Mumbai Consulate
Date: November 2016
Counter No- 30 (not sure)

VO: Good morning (no smile at all)...
Good morning, Sir! How are you? (With a big smile)

VO: Why do you want to study in USA??
Sir, their course curriculum are highly practical & research oriented. Also, they have world class & state-of-the-art infrastructure... (Interrupted).

VO: Why not study this course from some other University (Indirect Question... why did you choose this University?)
Same answer as above.

VO: Did you ever travel by plane? (Sounded more of a silly question but had to answer)
No sir, Not yet.

VO: What are your plans after Masters?
(Tried to act smart & changed my answer in the last minute to assert my non-immigrant status.. BIG MISTAKE) Sir, After my Masters, I intend to fly back to my country and set up my own firm in networking field (with a big grin).

VO: So, why do you want to go US then, you have such good experience, why not start your firm staying here itself and make local connections... would not that be good?
(Clean Bold) Didn't know how to surmount this Question... Stood still for 2 minutes, thinking about a convincing answer.

VO: (meanwhile) Sorry sir, I cannot issue you visa..issued me 214b (Saw this coming)... didn't feel much sad this time as I was used to rejections by now.

But "MS in US" Dream was officially over for me now. I started seeking alternatives as I was very keen to study further & upgrade my knowledge base. Attended few seminars by Australia & Canada University, also as a backup applied for MBA in Telecommunication Management at Symbiosis & was placed in SITM'S 1st Merit list declared in March'17. But all throughout, my Inner Voice/ Intuition/ Heart (whatever you may call) kept screeching me from inside on how can I give up so easily & that too at the last moment. I should try again.. even if I fail, I'll only loose a few minted notes, which can be earned later. So, listening to my heart's divine voice, I again booked my slot & was ready to face the VO one more time. Hence, buckled up for my penultimate Interview.


Fourth Attempt

Mumbai Consulate
Date: December 2016
Counter No- 32

(Mumbai Consulate was more like a second Home to me now, which I used to visit Once in every 3 months. I became so familiar with their set up that I could accurately tell which VO would be sitting at which counter, just by looking at the Counter Number. The entire Nervousness & Anxiety one has of a visa interview has completely faded away, just Frustration left behind for me now)

VO: (A sweet lady in her 40's very friendly & cheerful) Good Morning Sir!! (With a big smile)
(handed over my documents) A warm Good Morning Ma'am!!

VO: So, how did come to know about this university?
I am sorry... can you please repeat the question ma'am... (This was just to buy me some time to think as this question was unanticipated) Ma'am, I have my few seniors studying over there, they actually recommended me... (Interrupted but I kept on saying) So, I went online, browsed for their courses & found them very relevant to my profile (Interrupted Again).

VO: (with a loud voice & smile) It's OK sir! I got you...!
ohh.. I am sorry Ma'm.. my bad (WE both laughed)

VO: Why do you want to go for this university?
Ma'm as stated earlier, their courses are very relevant to my profile n... (Rest ans remains the same.)

VO: What was your GRE Score?

VO: What do your parents do?

VO: How are they sponsoring you?
Exact Same ans about funds as stated in earlier attempts.

VO: Do you have an education loan to fund your education?
No Ma'am, I believe it's not required as I have all the required supplies to fund my education for 2 years.

VO: (Starts typing) After sometime, I'm sorry sir... I cannot approve your visa!
(started getting desperate, even pestered and beseeched her), Ma'am if you can give me just one chance I can explain you all my funds clearly.

VO: (A bit Angry) Sir, I have told you your interview is over! You may leave now.
Ohh... I am very Sorry Ma'am (with a huge fake smile.)

First time, when I walked out of the consulate, I was not melancholic at all, in fact was Delighted within to see a ray of hope amidst darkness as I could finally figure out the cardinal reason behind my incessant failures. VO's specific question about loan was a subtle innuendo for me that I need to have a loan, if I want my Visa approved. But, it was too late to get a loan sanctioned in such a short notice, so had to defer my admission again to FALL' 2017. Even my Universities Associate Director warned me that It would be the last deferral opportunity bestowed on me, so had to play accordingly. Likewise, Got a loan sanction letter from a bank and booked the earliest avail slot which I could procure, thought by doing this, I'd be able to give at least 3-4 attempts before I go All out with my last deferral opportunity, without realising that It would be way too early to even try for it.


Fifth Attempt

Mumbai Consulate
Date: April 2017
Counter No- 36

VO was a 30-35 years old convivial and friendly person.
ME: Good Morning, Sir. How are you?
VO: Good Morning.... F1 Visa (with a surprised look & a confounding tone). What changes have you made in your profile this time?
Sir, I have sanctioned an education loan worth XX lakh to cover my expenses for the entire 2 years. (VO started typing) After completing my sentence, Sir, May I show you my documents (with a smile)??

VO: Wait Sir, It's OK. I'll tell you when to show.
VO: (Looking at my I20) So, Southern Methodist University... Why did you choose this university?
Same answer as above (Just 1st two points and Interrupted)

VO: (Started Drilling) I know a few people doing the same course from the same University & even they said the same thing about their courses. What special or distinguishing feature you found in this University that made you opt for it??
Yes Sir, I was about to say that but you interrupted me. Actually Sir, the foremost reason is that have recently learnt from their website that they have updated all their network labs with the latest Cisco Devices. I personally liked this step a lot, as it is directed towards providing us with hands-on training & exposure on all the latest equipments used by corporates today.

VO: Well... You did your under graduation in 2011 and were working with xxx since then. Then why you want to do MS now?
Initially, everything was very interesting, I got to learn a lot many new things in my job. But as time passed, I realized my knowledge remained stagnant, I felt I was just adding numbers to my Experience. Also, I intend to set up my own firm, I believe I may have the experience but I am certainly lacking the required knowledge & exposure, which can be obtained only by pursuing a masters' degree!!

VO: OK! what do your parents do?
Told about both of them.

VO: May I see your sanction letter??
I handed over my letter & he started perusing it, leaning back on his chair. After a while, he started to read the screen. Something caught his attention, he took my I20 & he started to read the screen very closely,
And then all of a sudden, I'm sorry sir, I cannot Approve your visa now you might have to come again, we have a policy that we cannot issue visas prior 120 days of the program start date. And In your I20, it is mentioned as 21st August (started typing).
(I was like if my visa gets rejected for this reason, then it would be the stupidest reason ever. Let it be, is baar kuch jyada hi ghai ho gayi, I'd wait for a while & then try again later. But how come I never came across any such policy.)

VO: I was checking your previous case logs, it's mentioned you were not able to meet the financial requirements earlier, since you have a loan now that should not be a problem any more, but you came way too early. (Again started typing). [I should have surmised that earlier, as all people in the queue were either too professional with suit, boot, ties & multiple stamps on their passport for H1B Visas or either were accompanied by their family for Tourist Visas, I was probably the Only "ONE Student" out there].
ME: (Dejected & in a despondent voice) Sir, Actually I was preparing for some Networking-related certifications, so thought to attend the visa interview as early as possible, to focus completely on those exams. I was completely unaware (I stopped at that word).
VO Still typing on the screen. A sudden thought crossed my mind and I instantly quipped... Sir, It is possible to issue me visa later after approving it. I mean to say since my financial requirements are now met, so can you approve my visa now, then just keep it on hold for some time, And once when we enter the 120 days window, issue my visa then. Also, I believe this won't violate any policies as such. So, can that be done Sir???

VO [started thinking (looked quite unsure though) & was murmuring something about following the process, could not hear him clearly]: Wait here for some time, I'll just come. VO went inside, took my I20 & loan sanction letter.
A family standing behind me, smilingly looked at me as to asking what exactly is happening out there??
VO took nearly 15-20 mins, meanwhile, I was quailing down with fear as to why is it taking him so long. VO returned & said Yes, that can be done Sir, but I see an issue over here, you will have to come again (with a sarcastic smile). Your loan sanction letter expires in June, well before August & this could create an issue with your funds. After a small hiatus, can you provide us with a written statement from the bank that they will disburse your loan even after the sanction letter expires?
ME: Yes Sir, definitely! But loan disbursal should not be a problem, Sir. You said 120 days prior... means somewhere around May and my letter expires in June. So, let us assume, if you issue me a visa in the 1st week of May, even then we have 1 complete month for the loan disbursal process to get completed. (VO again started typing).
ME: (trying to convince more) Sir, I spoke to the Bank Official... (Interrupted)

VO: Ohh... you did.
Yes sir, and they told me that I need to submit my Visa copy & my loan would be disbursed within 4-5 business days. So, in this case, even if you issue me Visa in the 2nd or 3rd week of May, then also we would have ample of time to disburse my loan, so I don't really see this as an issue at all. But then, yes a written statement from the bank can always come handy sir.
VO (said something very slowly, his words went bouncer) I need to check that, wait for 5 minutes. I'll be back.
VO again went inside (this time to his right) with my sanction letter only. The consulate was nearly empty with only 3-4 applicants including me. The family which stood behind me, this time gazed upon me (all 3 of them), as if they would kill me the moment I stepped out of the consulate. They were then shifted to a different counter by a volunteer, their interview ended in a jiffy & I saw them hurling outside. After waiting for quite a while, VO came back with a huge smile.

VO: It should do fine Sir. We won't be needing the statement. (VO took out a pamphlet & penned down all my details from the screen). While writing he made a mistake and said (with a big smile), it is so difficult to read & write at the same time.
ME: As a student, I can very well understand that sir! (We both laughed).

VO: (While writing) You, probably, would be the 1st applicant to be getting a student's visa then (Smiling). As I don't think, we have started interviewing any Fall candidates as such.
Ohh wow! That sounds great sir! Thank you sir!!

VO: You need to submit your passport & this pamphlet in the drop box at the visa applying centre where you had your biometrics done. Do one thing submit a copy of I20 also. Make sure you submit your I20 Too (VO emphasized) after 1st May. You will get an SMS alert about when your passport is ready for collection. (Handed over my Passport, I20, Sevis Receipt & '221g' pamphlet)
ME: Thank you Sir. Thank you so much. You made my day..(Interrupted)

VO: And remember sir, you cannot enter US prior 30 days of your program start date.
Yes sir, that part I know. I'm sorry, it’s just in my haste, I missed the 120 days "wala" clause (I did say wala) but I'd be more careful henceforth. Thank you again sir...You ROCK Sir (VO Burst out with laughter).

VO: Congratulations! Have a wonderful stay in the US.
Bye... take care... Have a nice day Sir!!!

Came back Grinning all the way and then Cried a lot, pour my heart out in those sanguine tears, as 1st time in Life I felt like a "Winner" & finally realised what "Dreams Come True" truly feels like!!!

Lesson Learnt: No matter how Low and Down Life Drags you...Never Ever Give Up on it, Keep Trying... Keep Failing... and One day, Life itself will pull you up to Success. I had spent more than 50K of my Hard-Earned Money on just these interviews. It was not a wastage, but an investment for a Resplendent Future. Believe me guys, In the end, it's all worth the effort!! This is what I learnt from myself during this Entire Visa Experience.

Note: Content in this article is taken from a public forum moderated by Yocket. Personal details which may reveal the identity have been removed in order to maintain annonimity.

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