Monday, March 06, 2006

US Visa Interview

I've been to foreign countries before, but this is the first time I am facing a visa interview. Of course, the country has to be USA in this case.

I was well prepared for the visa interview, as I was told it's a serious business. One session from our travel manager and another one from the operations manager had given me a feeling that any slight mistakes in following what they have told will result in the rejection of my visa application. 'Be confident', 'Look at the eyes of the officer', 'Don't lean on the desk', 'Do not disclose anything more than they ask', etc. were among the few mantras that kept on ringing in my ears when I reached the Chanakyapuri area in New Delhi.

I didn't expect US Embassy to be like it appeared. All I could see was walls and security guards. I reached an hour before my appointment and there was a small gathering of people who had come very earlier than their appointment time. While they were waiting their turns, the guard let me proceed after checking my papers and frisking the body. He directed me to a queue in front of Gate No:6 and an Indian officer verified my papers for accuracy. She gave them back writing some numbers and affixing a red smiley sticker on my passport. After entering the embassy, I had to undergo one more security check and all my documents were also scanned through an X-Ray machine.

The first thing to do was to scan the finger prints. The mantra 'Any slight problems in your index fingers will result in rejection' was haunting me at that time, as my finger skins were slightly peeling off due to cold weather. I pressed my left index finger on the small scanner hardly to make sure that the impression is well captured, until the officer inside the counter asked to me to press not so hard. Things went fine and the prints of both my index fingers were scanned.

Next was the visa interview. There were a lot of people waiting in queue in front of the visa interview counters. When I noticed that most of the people's passport in that queue is not having the red smiley on them, I approached a clerk asking the meaning of it. She said I've got the priority status (still don't know why!), and directed me to the empty priority lane. Soon, visa officer invited me to the counter for the interview.

"How are you, sir?" was first question, smiling at me with a welcome notion. He looked cheerful and energetic and more questions followed after collecting my documents. "How long have you been with this company?", What is your total experience in this field?", "What kind of project you will be working for?", "Who is your client?", "How long you intend to stay in US?", etc were the questions. He suffixed a 'sir' with all and was going through my papers all the time. Finally, he declared: "I have approved your visa, sir! Your passport will be couriered to you within three days". "Thank you, sir!", I replied happily and left the counter. All I spent at the embassy for the whole process was less than half an hour.