Third time lucky for Vietnamese student whose US visa application rejected twice

Mai Nhat Anh got his visa after the third application, only days before his flight to the U.S.

Mai Nhat Anh works on the machine in the north-central Vietnamese province of Nghe An. Photo: Tuoi Tre

A 12th grader in the north-central Vietnamese province of Nghe An who had his application for a U.S. visa to attend an upcoming Intel science fair turned down twice has succeeded in the third attempt.

Mai Nhat Anh, from Phan Boi Chau High School, passed the interview for his U.S. visa at the Embassy of the United States in Hanoi on Tuesday morning, his teacher, Mai Van Quyen, confirmed to Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper.

Anh is now able to join his classmate, Phung Van Long, to participate in the 2018 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (Intel ISEF) in Pennsylvania later this week.

Quyen also got his visa to accompany the students during their trip.

“The interview was similar to the previous ones, except for the fact that Anh and I were interviewed at the same time,” the teacher elaborated.

Anh and Long will present their invention, a device capable of converting seawater into fresh water via distillation at the May 13-19 science fair.

The machine won first prize in a national contest in Vietnam in March, and was selected by the Ministry of Education and Training to be one of the country’s eight entries sent to the Intel science fair.

According to the plan, the delegation from Nghe An Province consists of Anh, Long, and five observers including Quyen.

However, until Tuesday, only Long and two observers had got their visas.

If only one of the two inventors could make it to the competition, the project could be disqualified, the teacher said.

Now that both Quyen and Anh have obtained the visas, the students have left Hanoi for Nghe An to prepare for flight to the U.S. on May 11.

The Intel ISEF, a program sponsored by the Society for Science & the Public, is the world’s largest pre-college science competition. 

Each year, approximately 1,800 high school students from more than 75 countries, regions, and territories are awarded the opportunity to showcase their independent research and compete for on average US$4 million in prizes.

In 2017, Pham Huy, an eleventh-grader in the central province of Quang Tri, was also rejected twice by the U.S. Embassy prior to his trip to the U.S. to attend the same science fair.

After an article about Huy’s case was published in Tuoi Tre, the boy received a phone call from the U.S. Embassy offering him a third interview to reconsider his visa application.

Huy was granted the document just in time for his flight booked for the same day.

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