Yesterday I had to go to Chennai for my US visa interview. Chennai is a really sucky city, it sucks even worse than Bangalore . Here is an account of the process.
The vfs-usa.co.in site has a list of documents that you require to bring along with you. If you filled the visa form at the vfs-usa.co.in site, you would have received a printout of the forms D156, D157 and an appointment letter mentioning the data and time of your visa interview.
I had packed in all the required documents the night prior to my departure to Chennai. Due to security concerns you are not allowed to carry mobile, CDs, music player or any electronic device into the consulate building. However, you are allowed to carry books and one polybag with all your documents inside. These people are really serious about security - do not bring any stuff which is prohibited. You will not be allowed to carry it inside no matter what.
Since books were not on their Do not carry list, I took along a printout of the MySQL Internals manual for my inflight entertainment.
The American consulate is located in Anna Salai. Once you get down at the airport, you will find a government operated prepaid taxi counter there. They will charge you 240 Rs. (rupees) for a taxi to the American consulate. The people manning the counter were able to understand english.
Since I was returning back to Bangalore the same day, I had not made any reservations in a hotel for my stay. The taxi driver knew the place and he dropped me infront of the consulate gate. The guards there guided me to the gate through which the visa interviewees had to pass.
I reached the consulate by 0900 though my interview was at 1230. There was a average sized queue at the gate. I liked the queue managment system at the Chennai consulate. The guards called out the interview time that was mentioned in the appointment letter and people who were scheduled at that time moved ahead in the queue. Since my interview was scheduled atYou will 1230, I roamed around in the streets to pass time.
It is really a hard job to pass time in Chennai. There were no parks or malls in the nearby area. Since I did not know the city well enough, I did not want to wander far off from the consulate.
After killing nearly two hour, I got into the queue at 1100 hours. I was allowed into the consulate at 1300 hours.
Pre-screening of the documents
Once you are inside the consulate, you have to wait to have your passport, forms D156 and D157 verified. The officers check if you are missing something. They are quite efficient. You have chairs available once you get inside the consulate.
By the time I reached the pre-screening counter, it was already 1430. Unluckily for me, the photograph on my form was not of the correct size. The officer at the counter asked me to get a proper sized photograph and come back again in an hour.
There is a market near the consulate and the shopkeepers there understand english and hindi. I asked around and quickly located a place to have my photograph taken. It was a seedy place and the photographer charged me 200 Rs. for four correct sized photograph. My guess is that he charged me at least thrice the price I would normally have paid.
I hurried back to the consulate and showed the guards at the front gate that I had been rescheduled for my interview and I had originally been called aat 1230. He kindly allowed me to go in without waiting in the queue.
This time around I did not have a problem in the pre-screening part and they asked me to go in for my visa interview.
There was quite a crowd waiting for their visa interview. However, the queue managment was again good here and no one was complaining. There were enough chairs around, so waiting was not too much of a hassle.
You first had to get your fingerprint taken and then stand in a queue to have one of the officers interview you. I was quite apprehensive about the interview as I had heard quite a lot of stories about the randomness of the visa interviewers in rejecting the visas. However, I was quite surprised. The visa interviewers gave perfectly coherent reasons for the rejection of the visas. They were direct, but polite in their rejections. They asked pertinent questions and I do not think that hassling the visa interviewees was their aim.
When my turn came, I was asked a few question about why I was going to US and told that my visa has been spproved and I would receive it in 2-3 days . I was quite happy and came out of the consulate. The process ended at 1700.
Back to Bangalore
My flight was at 2125. I killed time till 1830 and then took an autorickshaw to the airport. He charged me 150 Rs. and dropped me at the airport by 1915. I walked inside the airport, found an empty seat and tried to get some sleep. Since I had done lot of walking that day, my feet were killing me. I took off my shoes too and then tried to get some more sleep. Pretty soon the boarding for my flight was announced. I got into the the aeroplane, flew back to Bangalore and was back home by 2300.
All in all, it was a tiring experience, but a productive one.
Nice account of the day. This will serve a nice reminder to me; in keeping my documents and photograph sizes to conform to the specifications when I have to go to the consulate.
Someday soon I hope.
I am sure it will come pretty soon. Apply for your passport asap
Hi, i will be attending the interview in few days, what are the other questions they ware asked you? Please help.
Forgot to add - this is about the Chennai consulate. I am not sure if the New Delhi consulate functions similarly.
so what was sucky about chennai? looks like you were well treated. And only 150 for an auto to the airport for a guy who doesnt know tamil? Lucky not sucky. And for time pass you could have walked 200 meters down the road and stood at the bus stand opposite Stella Maris college and gawked. And there are a heck of a lot of malls, good restaurants, cafes etc etc in that area.
The weather was really hot . Quite a lot of told me later that the Spencers mall was nearby and that would have been a good timepass.
I located the Stella Maria College, but apparently the girls had a premonition about me or they were busy attending the classes
I am having my Visa interview on the 23rd May. Can you tell me how i should arranange the documents. can i take a file or should i put all documents in a single plastic folder..
Taking mysql manual to the US consulate, reaching 3:30 hrs ahead of the scheduled appointment, paying 3x price for the photos..Raj, don`t you think all these sound really funny
anyways, its quite useful.. I learnt that chairs are avaialable at the place
Could u tell me what are the possible good answers for the Question ' Why u want to got US ' and what u have told in the interview
Give the true reason why you are going to US and you should be fine.
Hey DUDE... WAT DO U THINK OF URSELF>> CHENNAI SUCKS>> really.. u suck bigtime..chennai or bangalore or any part of india has its own beauty.. OKIE?? u bighead...
chill.. stop ur snobeery..nyways thanks for the details
Just one day's visit to Chennai does not give you the right to comment on it. I lived in B'lore for 2 years, and I tell you I've never seen a city with more infrastructural woes. It does not get any worse than this.... so a bangalorean saying chennai sucks is so ridiculous, it's LAUGHABLE!!!!!!
You were quite lucky with a 2-3 day procesisng. I got stuck in the PIMS mess back in January. Heres my side of the story (:-)
i made appointment on 22 of jan to attend the graduation ceremony on 31 jan in english at chennai embassy in urgent bt my mother couldnt fluency in english,is there translator available in urdu or hindi?
A glass is half-empty or half-full depending on your point of view and not the amount of water in the glass. Your's was a xenophobic view of a your experience. Chennai probably sucked that day because of such xenophobic people. Every place, every person, every experience is different. Learn to cherish every moment of life and you'll have a lot of plesant menories. Else, life will really suck.
a very informative blog indeed. I had got my US visa a couple of years and was applying today for my wife and she went through your blog. Very helpful. I came across just the way you addressed Chennai being sucky which I wish to differ on your views.
You were new to Chennai and didnt know about it as you accepted the same and it is improper to comment on the city that you hardly knew.
Now the next time you come for renewal of your visa take a walk to the adjacent Parson Shopping Complex or the nearby Spensars (an auto guy would charge you like 30 bucks)and have a great time.
I look forward to see you again in Chennai soon.
Dude - you need to expand your horizons when it comes to the wor "rocks"