Background (the good part):
I had been admitted to Purdue University for PhD in computer engineering
starting from Fall 2004. I had planned to pursue the area of Machine Learning and
Artificial Intelligence. The unofficial admit letter from the departmen
t graced my yahoo
inbox on February 19
, 2004, with an offer of financial aid for four years, just two days
before my birthday. What an ideal birthday gift!! I thanked God so much.
Prior to Visa Interview:
I was pretty confident that I would get a vi
sa. I thought that with such a good
university and an aid offer, nobody could deny me a visa. I had cheerfully booked my
visa date for July 9
, and carelessly
through various visa issues that were being
discussed in the yahoo groups formed by purd
ue students for fall 2004. It so happened
that I also nonchalantly skimmed through an e
mail that mentioned about TAL, thinking
that it wouldn’t be so serious and that it wouldn’t affect many people. Little did I know
that I would be on
of those not
ny unlucky persons.
The “Fateful Day” (July 09, 2004):
My interview was at the Chennai US consulate. I had gone to the consular office
with my dad and brother carrying all the required documents which were screened by my
dad to ensure that everything wa
After going through all the required processes,
I was at the interview hall. I could see one of the consular officers, thin and lanky,
peering through his glasses across the counter. I witnessed him literally screw a poor guy
for not being able
to explain in his own words the reason for going to the US. All through
this I was pretty confident. Finally it was my turn…
All the usual questions ensued.
Officer: What is your area of interest?
: Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence and Compute
: Can you briefly explain about these areas of study?
: (Yeah, of course, this is what I had prepared for!!) … blah.. blah.. blah..
Good. (Gives me a piece of paper with some questions in it…) You have to fill
up this question
naire and email it to (some email address).
: What is this? What happened to my visa? Why am I supposed to do this?
: This is for further information about you which is required for further screening.
We’ll be able to issue your visa only after
you submit this information.
: (Only then did I realize that it was the TAL in action…) How much time would
it take for me to get my visa?
: I am not sure. Typically, it’ll take 3
4 weeks. And please don’t call the consulate
before that time per
iod. I’ll retain your passport, i
20 and other documents. It’ll be
returned to you along with the visa.
: (Mind racing, heart beating faster…) Are you sure, that I will get it in 4 weeks?
: I cannot say anything. Thank you. (meaning, I had to le
Realising that I had nothing more to do inside, I came outside just to meet a horde of
anxious parents hovering around to ask about my experience…
One month later…
One month later in the middle of August, I heard that another friend of mine
a similar experience got her visa within 5 weeks. With my regular temple visits and
worships, I though I too would get it within 5 weeks.
What I learnt and what I should have done:
Visa refusal under 221(g) could be because of some missing documents
or it could be
because your area of study/work comes under the TECHNOLOGY ALERT LIST (TAL).
In my case, it was the TAL. I had