Hi,
I am a PhD candidate at Ohio State University, but currently stuck in my home country, Pakistan. A brief of my case is as follows.Please let me know what I should do.

I, alongside my family, was in USA from 2011 to 2016 as Fulbright PhD Scholar on J-1 Visa. However, due to my health issues I couldn?t complete my PhD in that time. I was asked by my sponsor, Fulbright, to go back to my home country, Pakistan, for the remaining of my PhD research and come back to the US once my dissertation defense was ready. Note that I was subject to 2-year home-country-residency rule. So, I came back to my home country, Pakistan, in mid-2016.

When my PhD research got completed, I applied for F-1 visa in December 2017, and was interviewed at US Consulate Karachi on my official passport of Govt of Pakistan as I was ( and still am) an employee of federal govt of Pakistan. The Councilor officer told me that my visa application was genuine. He, however, said that since I was an official of government of Pakistan, so he couldn?t issue me visa on-the-spot because he had to reciprocate the delay that the US-govt officials were facing in getting Pakistani visa from Pakistani Embassy in Washington DC. So, he placed me under administrative processing. Note that I didn?t apply for my family visa (F-2) because my wife was expecting a baby in December 2017.

In May 2018, my govt department announced a new policy for its employees proceeding on higher studies abroad. According to that, only those employees were entitled to travel on official passport who were funded by our govt. Since, my trip to USA was sponsored by my US University ( in the form of Teaching Assistant), so I was asked by my govt department to apply afresh for US visa on regular ( private ) Passport.

Consequently, in May 2018, I withdrew my visa application from US Consulate Karachi (that I had submitted in December 2017, and which was not adjudicated till that time), and applied afresh for F-1 visa in June 2018 but this time using my regular (private) Passport. Moreover, this time I applied for F-2 visa for my family too.

As expected , the Councilor Officer again placed me under administrative processing which is still ongoing despite passing 8 months. My case was updated only once in September 2018.US Consulate gives only one answer that my case is undergoing through administrative processing.

I have a very good government job in Pakistan and none of my family members or immediate relatives lives in US. So, I have strong ties with my home country. Having said this, I have one blemish in my case which I am not sure will effect my case. I had accumulated about $20K loan from 5 different credit cards during my stay in the US. However, none of this involves a federal loan and, as of today, no criminal or bankruptcy proceeding has started against me. I don't know if paying my loan from abroad will improve my visa chances or it will be considered as desperate attempt on my side to enter into the US. Visa or no visa I will pay my debt. That's a moral and legal obligation on me.Currently, I plan to pay the loan in lump-sum once I reaches the US.

I am very depressed and despondent as my whole future depends on my successful defense of my PhD dissertation for which I must appear in-person in my University.