Status : Approved.
Interview time : 6-7 minutes.
Background : I was applying for fall semester 2018 for an undergraduate degree in Computer Science engineering from University of Mary Hardin Baylor, Texas. It was my first attempt.
IELTS Score : 9 bands.
Visa date : 23 May 2018 (some of the worst days in American consulate, the acceptance ratio was 10:2)
Consulate : Mumbai.
Time : 8:45 AM
All of the student and work visas were getting rejected only B2 (visit visas) were being approved.
After about an hour and a half of waiting in 5 different lines, and experiencing all F1 visas before me getting rejected I finally get in front of the counter.
VO is an American lady in her late 20's or early 30's.
Me: Good Morning ma'am, how're you this morning?
VO : Maybe replied, I didn't pay attention.
VO: Pass me your passport and I20.
VO: Why US?
ME: (A well rehearsed answer) Well, US is the education capital of the entire world...
VO: Okay, fine. Stop. (In an exasperated tone.)
ME: (completely thrown of the game all of these conspiracy theories came to my mind that maybe she has already decided to reject my visa and such, I push it out if mind.)
VO: When did you finish your undergraduate?
ME: I am actually going for my undergraduate...
VO: (interjecting) Yeah, but when did you finish your 10+2?
ME: I finished my 10+2 in 2016..
VO: (interjecting, again) So what have you been doing till now?
ME: I didn't want to graduate from any mediocre college that's why as soon as I was done with my 10+2 I started working on the entrance test for IIT and Bits Pillani but unfortunately , couldn't get in and missed out by just a scratch my Plan B was to get my undergrad degree from abroad and US was the first country that came to my mind because a degree from US is valued all over the world. (I knew about midway in my answer that she wasn't liking the answer, her frown deepened as I kept going.)
VO: Wait, so you couldn't get into these Indian universities and your Plan B was to try for US? That doesn't make any sense.
(I was shook, I wasn't expecting this)
ME: Actually these are 2 of the best universities in India it is really hard to get into it.
VO: Okay. (shrugs) (Starts typing on keyboard)
ME: (Thinking on my feet, I knew I had to say something and fast, the first thing that came to my mind was a times of India article I read almost a month back)
The reason i don't want to continue my education here is because the situation here is very bad.
VO: How so?
ME: Well there are about 5000 engineering colleges in India. 1.3 million engineers graduate every year. There are only 500K new jobs available every year. So If am to have any kind of career in my field of study I am expected to have exceptional skills. And education from USA allows me to attain those skills and when I come back to my country I will have an edge above the rest of the graduates.
(All true facts, but not something I prepared for, just said of the top of my head.
In hindsight if I hadn't given this answer I am almost sure I would have been rejected in the next minute.)
VO: Okay that makes sense. So I see you have been given a scholarship how are you planning to pay for the rest of your education?
ME: (Gave a detailed answer, she was obviously satisfied, didn't even ask for my financial documentation.)
Final Question (And The answer that got me my visa)
VO: (Starts typing then stops, looks at me and asks) So, you said you're from Hyderabad right? (I had mentioned that in my sponsor answer) Then why are you applying from Mumbai?
ME: (Wasn't completely prepared for it, Was debating if I should say the truth or make something up, something told me that this VO wasn't you're average VO she'd understand if I lie, I decided on telling the truth)
Well a friend of mine, who had an excellent profile applied from Hyderabad and his visa got rejected for no specific reason, he took a deferment applied for the second time and his visa was approved. In my situation my mom told me that I had this one chance to get my Visa and if I don't I'll have to continue my education in India, I didn't want to take any chances or risks which is why I am here.
VO: straight up starts laughing for at least 20 seconds (she liked the answer).
Everybody in the hall were looking at me curiously, this hadn't happened before (at least in the past 2 hours.)
VO: (stops laughing, but still smiling) I have never hear that answer before.
Me: No comments.
VO: How old are you? (casually)
ME: I am 19.
VO: Alright, give me a minute. (she turns off her mike, and starts typing for a whole minute, at this point I was hopeful that I'd get my visa than she signals toward someone and another American guy comes up beside her and they started discussing. It was at this point all my hopes came crashing down because of all the reaserch I had done and experiences I had read I understood one thing if the VO calls someone to discuss, it means your visa is getting rejected. I lowered my gaze to the floor and started making plans on what to do next. About a minute after she knocks on the glass, I look up.)
VO: So I am keeping your passport, and approving your visa. (Then she passes me the slip on how to collect your passport, I don't respond, I still haven't processed what I heard)
VO : Are you gonna take this?
ME: Yes Of Course, thank you so much, you made my day. (And I was about to take the slip she pulls it back, I look up)
VO: congratulations on your Visa and best of luck in your future endeavors. (smiling)
VO: Thank you again. (Took the slip and basically ran out of there.)
She didn't ask for any of my documents only the I20. The rest was all based on the conversation. Even though my scholarship and IELTS score was my plus points and I wanted to push it but I didn't even get a chance to mention it.
I know that its popular belief that you need to answer to the point, but I obviously went for another strategy I gave long and detailed answer for every question. And I think this is what got me my visa. You just need to talk on the subject and not defer into other things and you will be fine.
Other than that stay calm, collected and never panic or be nervous. Think that it doesn't matter if I get accepted or rejected. (even if it does) It will help you immensely.