2021 Visa Success Stories
COVID has made it very difficult to apply for visas and we feel for our students who have had to delay their plans as a result. On May 18, 2021, members of the U.S. Congress submitted a letter to the US Department of State Secretary Anthony Blinken, urging the expansion of visa issuance at consulates around the world. While we see progress every day among students who are successfully granted visas, we'd like to see all our students, including those admitted since March 2020, to be confident that they can join us on the Brandeis campus beginning in August 2021.
Below we share the experience of several students who were successful in obtaining a visa during the month of May. We hope these stories can be helpful and inspiring for those looking to apply for a visa. We will add new, more recent stories as the summer progresses.
May Visa Success Stories
"Actually, my experience was great! I had no issue whatsoever and they even helped me to get my VISA faster than expected.
Of course, getting everything ready can be challenging and I must admit I felt like I was filling form after form, but at the end of the day it was all worth it! The people I had helping me, both from Brandeis and the US embassy were incredibly polite and helpful, which I appreciate enormously."
"I am a student from Brazil and was accepted into Brandeis last year. However, because of many factors, among them travel restrictions as well as personal reasons, I decided to defer my enrollment for 1 year and will be joining this fall.
In my country, the U.S. Embassy and Consulates have been closed for Routine Visa Services since the beginning of 2020. On April 26, 2021, Brazilian (and other countries) students were automatically included as National Interest Exceptions if their academic program begins August 1, 2021, or later. A few days later, the U.S. Embassy and Consulates in Brazil announced they would resume processing student visa applications for students in this category in May. On April 30, there were many appointment slots opened for May, however, they were quickly filled. Some spots still randomly appear available, and it is expected that more appointments are made available in the near future.
Luckily, I was able to successfully schedule a visa appointment for May 17. The process was fairly easy from there, I arrived at the nearest consulate a few minutes before my scheduled appointment. After a two hours line, I finally had my interview. I was only asked where I would study and what. The information on the computer system was checked and a couple of minutes later I was informed my visa was approved and that I would receive an email to return to get my passport in a few days."
Cambodia (Phnom Penh):
"In Phnom Penh, US visa interviews are still conducted physically. Though I had to schedule my interview right after a two-week lockdown in my city, many interview slots were made available. What I had to go through was: complete the online DS 160 and I-19 form, pay fees, then bring the required documents as listed in the US embassy website to the interview. My visa appointment went pretty smoothly.
For fellow incoming Brandeis Students: Just be calm and confident with your answers."
India (New Delhi):
"Due to the current lockdown in India, I could not get any early dates for the appointment, so I applied for the nearest date I got and then booked an emergency appointment after checking the eligibility of applying for an emergency appointment and submitted the necessary documents. As soon as I booked this emergency appointment, I got a mail stating my emergency request is rejected, but within the next working day, I received another mail stating that the emergency request is accepted. I went for the interview with all the documents where I interacted with the VISA officer for 5-7 min, which went on smoothly, and I received my VISA Approval. Within the next three days, I received a mail to collect my passport."
“For your convenience, I listed my experience into three sections. Overall, the experience was great, the officers and staff were pretty nice and professional. The processing time and the delivery time of the VISA and my passport were quicker than I expected. I received my passport and VISA within three business days (interview on Monday and received them on Thursday). When I was preparing the materials for SEVIS and the visa appointment, the official website of ISSO at Brandeis was quite helpful (see link: https://www.brandeis.edu/isso/incoming/visa-steps/index.html). I referred to most of the steps and materials on it. I very much appreciate all the efforts the ISSO and the university made in helping international students!
The following is with more detailed information about my experience. Just in case it may be useful for others.
Make an appointment: When I made the appointment for my F1 VISA, only the U.S. Embassy in Beijing had the appointment date in China. One can check the information of U.S. embassy/consulate VISA availability through the official website https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/us-visas.html and set up the appointment date at https://cgifederal.secure.force.com.
Prepare materials for VISA application: Besides checking out the information from the ISSO website at Brandeis (really helpful!), I also followed up all the steps and materials needed from the official website (https://www.ustraveldocs.com/cn_zh/cn-niv-typefandm.asp#申请材料). There is a lot of misleading and out-of-date information on other third-party web pages. Pay attention to this. The ISSO website and the official federal website are enough for preparing for the VISA interview, and they did a pretty good job with a lot of detailed information.
During the interview: I booked a hotel near the U.S. Embassy in Beijing which helped me to get there on time the next day. Be chill, and relax. All the officers and staff are nice and helpful. They are very patient with every single individual. There are a lot of people at the embassy due to the re-opening of Visas in early May. It was well-organized and processed, so the interview process is relatively efficient and quick. My Visa interview went smoothly as it just took about 10 minutes. At first, the officer asked me for supplementary materials such as a CV and study plan which were mentioned on the official website (they also provided the template and the questions you need to answer for the study plan). The interview questions are quite general depending on one’s background. After answering all the questions, the officer took my passport and told me that my F1 Visa had been approved.
I received my passport on Thursday which was three days after my interview time. This was pretty efficient. I expected the time to take even longer. Overall, the experience was great. The ISSO website and the official federal website are helpful for my SEVIS and visa. Thanks again for your efforts to make this easier for us!”