University: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Course: Ph.D. in Material Science
Date: May 2017
Visa Interview Experience:
VO: Good morning.
ME: Good morning sir.
VO: Pass me your I-20 and passport
At this point, I pass him the documents. He immediately sees my prior F1 visa on opening the passport (I had done my MS from the UIUC as well). He scribbles something on it.
VO: So you're going back to UIUC. Any reason?
ME: I've worked with a professor in his research lab there during my MS and so I plan on rejoining his group this Fall.
VO: Your advisor's name?
ME: Told him the name.
VO: Do you have your academic CV with you?
ME: Yes, I do.
I pass him the resume. He looks through it and starts typing out on his screen. For about 2 minutes. I'm guessing he was listing out my projects.
He then takes out the blue 221g slip, writes the case number and hands it to me.
VO: This is for you to track the status of your visa. We need to do some further administrative checks before granting you the visa.
ME: Thank you.
The VO keeps my passport, original I-20 and CV.
I was not too perturbed by this since I was already expecting a 221g before the interview. From what I've seen, people who have been to the US earlier on a non-tourist visa or people who have done/will be doing TAL (Technical Alert List) related coursework/research work get handed this slip a lot. In my case, both were applicable. I had done my Master's from the US for 2 years and my research work as well was TAL related. I knew a lot of fellow students who got handed this, and all of them had their visas granted, just that it takes up to 6 weeks. So that knowledge helped me to not feel distraught after the interview.
Here's the time line of my visa application process-
Interview Date - May 3rd
Visa Status - 'Administrative processing' starting May 3rd
Visa Status- Changes to 'Issued' on May 26th
Passport Tracker- Changes to 'Ready for Pickup on May 31st'
I got back my I-20 and resume as well. They basically return all documents collected from you during the interview.
My advice to everyone (this year and subsequent years) would be to book your visa interview by the end of June so that even if you do get the 221g, you can still comfortably travel to the States. My friends told me to book an early date, luckily I did. Couple of people I know booked their slots in Mid-July a year back and got the 221g. They ended up getting their visas approved a day before orientation- a lot of stress.
So that's my interview experience folks! Hope it helps. For all you 221g peeps, hang in there! The visa is on its way.
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