So, after tackling down many other USMLE related things, I want to tackle about the US visa processing and immigration.
Yes, the USMLE is hard enough and is painful enough to turn our sanity into a nondescript goo. Getting a B1/B2 visa will probably turn that nondescript goo into liquefied jello.
*Disclaimer: This visa information is entirely from my personal experience and DOES NOT reflect the experience of all IMGs. Every IMG is different and this post should not be taken "as is" by the readers. If you were to apply the tips of this blog, please weigh the risks and the benefits of your actions before conducting them.
Tip #1: Get a US visa even before you go to medicine school, or even before you graduate from medicine school.
Go to Las Vegas for a shopping spree. Go visit New York for Mardi Gras. Go to the beach in Florida/Hawaii for your summer vacation. Go to any tourist spot in the US even just once. Use this as an answer on your interview with the US consulate. I don't know where I got this rumor but the US Embassy is really "not keen" on giving US visa to doctors because they know that there are many IMGs applying for the USMLE. I don't know if it's true, but I know it's a rumor. It won't hurt to play it safe, right?
PS. Rumor Alert! It is said that because of the 2009 recession, the US Consulate is "less strict" in approving the B1/B2 visa. I don't know how true or false this information is.
Tip #2: During the interview, DON'T LIE.
Answer each question truthfully when asked by a US consulate. These people have training in detecting lies, bluffs and subtle body language that suggests that you are not telling the truth. Also, AMERICANS HATE CHEATS. They don't like people who are deceiving or cheating in one way or the other. The reason for the interview is that the American government wants to know if that someone applying for a US visa will have the tendency to stay in the US illegally. (Ironic, right?) Telling the truth will give them the idea that you have no intention of staying illegally in the US, which is the applicants' ticket for a visa approval.
Tip #3: Don't try too hard.
Seriously. Don't act too cute, too nice or too eagerly enthusiastic on getting a US visa. Present yourself properly, wear the right clothes, speak politely using the normal voice and pace that you usually use; however, also practice constraints. Don't crack jokes at the US consulate, don't downplay the importance of the interview and above all, don't be sarcastic.
Furthermore, less talk is less mistake. Answer only the questions you are asked and elaborate only if you're asked to. Don't explain so many things as it can or will irritate or annoy the US consulate. The US Embassy has protocols in asking questions, and these are not random things that spontaneously appear during the interview.
Tip #4: Don't ask for the status of your application immediately after the interview!
Being overly inquisitive is not respectful or useful, unless you're a paparazzi chasing Paris Hilton or John Mayer. This is courtesy - even if we know that the consulate already have the results afterward, don't push them. You are in US territory once you step inside the Embassy; you talk to Americans during the interview; therefore, know a little bit of US courtesy and practice restraint in certain aspects of your personality that you know may cost you a US visa.
Tip #5: Say "Thank You" before leaving.
It's a simple gesture of gratitude, but it shows politeness and respect. Remember that these people in the Embassy interview at least 100 people a day every single day. This gesture won't guarantee that you'll get the B1/B2 visa, but it's courtesy. And, it's a plus factor in any type of interview, don't you agree?
Again, this is just a rough guide on what to do to obtain a US visa. Only the first tip is not interview related; the rest is for use during the interview. Let us all remember that the ones who interview us may be biased and that is the reason why our US visa application may be rejected. It's true that there are interviewers who are nicer, and there are others who are just not as nice as we want it to be. Bottom line is, we tried; we did whatever we can. The worst thing that they can do is for them so say "no", and that does not mean that it's the end of the road.
Success always comes in different packages; sometime, failure is needed to make us treasure our success.
Now, it's the readers' turn! Share your US visa experiences! Leave a comment below, blog about it, or discuss it with fellow IMGs.
Hope I've helped somewhat. Peace out, and IMGs rock!!!