Students aspiring to get a visa for higher education in the U.S. were cautioned by a senior consular official here on Tuesday, against being misled by blogs or unofficial sources.

Talking to The Hindu, the deputy consular chief of the U.S. Consulate General, Chennai, Michael Cathey, said: “There are lots and lots of blogs that provide wrong information on how to get a U.S. visa. Following such advice could lead to rejection of students’ applications. We have ample channels to give clarifications. There is no fee for contacting the call centre. So just tell us the truth.”

According to him, the consulate in Chennai processes 25 per cent of the world’s H1B visas and 30 per cent of L visas. There has been a 12 per cent increase in student visas from the previous year.

Addressing a guidance session ‘U.S. business visas’ organised by the Indo-American Chamber of Commerce, he said last year (October 2012 to September 2013), the consulate conducted visa interviews for 2.37 lakh persons, and 97 per cent of the applications were processed within a day, and the rest cleared the following day.

Last month, the consulate processed 21,000 applications.

Listing out the user-friendly measures introduced by the consulate in recent years, Mr. Cathey said interviews could be fixed by candidates within two days. The interview process would be over within 42 minutes of the allotted time and the application fee could be paid easily through different channels.

“About 1,300 interviews are conducted in a day. Everyone is given three minutes to explain the purpose of their visit. Be articulate and tell us the truth. Don’t get worried if the officer does not see the documents. We reject only a few applications. Clarifications or doubts can be cleared by calling the call centres or through online chats and emails,” he said.

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