The visa interview is the final step towards studying in the US. After the grueling college admissions process, visa interview is the last but equally important hurdle. After convincing the admissions’ officers about your caliber, you also have to convince the visa officer about your intent of studying in the US. It is crucial that you prepare for the interview and address all concerns of the visa officer. Going prepared to the visa interview is the only way to get the F1 visa stamped onto your passport. We cover the most important aspects of the interview process and give you some tips on how to handle the question-answer session.
For the student visa interview, you will be expected to speak only in English, unlike another type of visas. The reason being that if you have to convince the visa officer that you can take up the academic lectures given in English, you should be able to converse with them in English. This is the main reason why all universities ask for an English standardized test. English is the medium of most of the courses in the US, and you will have to show your spoken skills to the visa officer at the time of interview.
2. Positive attitude
When your turn for the interview comes, greet the officer with a warm hello or hi. S/he may ask you ‘how are you doing’. Reply politely and thank them for asking. If your visa is granted, thank them politely and leave. If your visa is rejected, don’t argue with the officer or create a scene. In such a situation, ask the officer the reason for rejection and what additional documents you need to bring next time to avoid rejection.
3. Look and act the part
Dress formally, like you would going to work. A well-ironed shirt and a pair of formal trousers should do for both male and female applicants. Do not show up in a three-piece tuxedo suit with a bow tie. It is an interview, not a dinner party. Reach the consulate 30 minutes before appointed time. You may have to wait for a long time before your turn comes, so be mentally prepared and keep patience. You are not allowed mobile phones inside the consulate so don’t bring one along. Only the applicant will be allowed inside for the interview; don’t bring your parents, spouse, or kids along. You will be made to stand in the queue according to the number assigned to you, so don’t consider breaking the line to reach the front first.
4. Proving ties to family and India
If you look at the situation like this, things might get easier to put in perspective: all non-immigrant applicants, including students, are viewed as intending immigrants unless proved otherwise. This statement is just to make you understand how important it is to convince the visa officer about your plans to return to India once your education is completed. If the officer is unconvinced, you may not be granted visa as you will be seen as a threat to the US immigration policy. You must, therefore, show that you have more important reasons to return to India than those of remaining back in the US.
5. Know your program
It is important to know all the details of your program, project, and course to be pursued in the US. You should be able to answer questions about your course easily and should not hesitate in giving answers. Do preliminary research about your college and university to make it clear that you are a genuine student. Apart from this basic knowledge, you should be able to explain how studying in the US and particularly this course will help your future profession in India.
6. Give precise answers
The visa officers are pressed for time and will have hardly 2 minutes for your interview. The whole process will be quick and short. These two minutes are crucial as this will be your only chance to form a likable impression upon them. Your first impression will decide your fate. The trick here is to provide important information which fulfills the officer’s questions in short answers to avoid wasting time.
7. Complete documents
The officer may or may not ask you for your academic mark sheets, but you need to have all your academic transcripts in place. Once you present them to the officer, they should be organized in such a way that it should be clear to the officer in one glance what those documents signify. This is again to save time as you only have two minutes. So come prepared with an organized documents folder.
8. Do not mention hopes of employment in the US
Remember, you are applying for a student visa not work visa. That means you will be there only to study and will return back to India upon completion of the course. So during the interview do not make the mistake of mentioning how you want to further your career prospects by working at some American corporation after finishing the course of study. You need to make it clear you will return to India and will work in India.
If your spouse is applying for an F2 visa, you will appear for the visa interview together. Both of you will be questioned separately, and you must not answer the questions directed at them. If you are not taking your spouse and kids along, you will have to answer questions on how they are going to sustain themselves once you leave for the US. You should be able to show a stable source of income to sustain your family as if you are not able to, the visa officer will get an impression that you will send them money in US dollars by working illegally in the US. This will lead to rejection of your visa immediately.
10. Visa interview questions
The visa officer will ask you questions related to your study plans, university choice, academic capability, financial status, and post-graduation plans. The questions on study plan will probe into your interest in the academic field of your choice. Officers need to know why that course is better than the ones offered in India. The questions related to the choice of university will also look into why the particular university is better for your future profession. The officer might also ask you questions on your academic capability, your test scores, GPA scores etc. These can all be evaluated to determine the likelihood of your success during the program. American education is very expensive compared to domestic education, so you need to have a financial plan in place and should be able to explain it to the visa officer. Your plan should include funding tuition fees along with living expenses too. Your post-graduation plans should be in sync with the current course you will be pursuing. “What will you do after you graduate?” is the most common question visa officers put to applicants, so give your answer some thought before putting it across.