Things to Remember When Applying for a Visa
Ties to Home Country
All applicants for non-immigrant visas are viewed as intending U.S. immigrants until they can convince the consulate officer they are not. You must be able to show you have reasons for returning to your home country stronger than reasons for remaining in the U.S. Having “ties” to your home country are the things that bind you to your homeland, hometown, or current place of residence. These “ties” include your family, job, financial investments or financial prospects that you own or will inherit. The interviewing officer may ask about your specific intent or promise of future employment, obligations to family, educational goals and objectives, long-range plans and career prospects in your home country. Each person’s situation is different and there is no single explanation, document, certificate or letter that can guarantee visa issuance.
The interview will be conducted in English. Students should practice their English conversational skills with a native speaker before the interview, if possible. If you are coming to the U.S. solely to study Intensive English, be prepared to explain how English will be useful for you in your home country.
Speak for Yourself
You are not allowed to bring parents or family members with you to the interview. Only the person scheduled for an interview will be permitted to enter the consulate. A negative impression is created if you are not prepared to speak on your own behalf.
Know the Program and How it Fits Your Career Plans
If you are not able to explain the reasons why you will study in a particular program in the U.S., you may not succeed in convincing the consular officer that you are indeed planning to study rather than to immigrate. You should also be able to explain how studying in the U.S. relates to your future professional career upon return to your home country.
Because of the volume of applications received, all consular officers are under considerable time pressure to conduct a quick and efficient interview. They must make a decision mostly on the impressions they form during the first minute or two of the interview. What you say first and the initial impression you create are critical to your success. Keep your answers to the officer’s questions short and precise.
Lengthy written explanations cannot be quickly read or evaluated. Written documentation should be brief and clear for the officer to review. Remember, you only have 2-3 minutes of interview time.
Opportunities to Enter the U.S. are Not the Same for Every Student
Applicants from countries suffering economic problems or from countries where former students have remained in the U.S. as immigrants will have more difficulty getting a visa. Applicants from countries on the U.S. Department of Homeland Security or State Department (high alert) list may encounter delays in obtaining a visa.
Your main purpose for coming to the U.S. should be to study, not for the chance to work before or after graduation. While many students do work “on-campus” during their studies, such employment is incidental to their main purpose of completing their U.S. education. You must be able to clearly explain your plan to return home at the end of your program. If your spouse is also applying for a visa (F-2 dependent visa), be aware that F-2 dependents cannot, under any circumstances engage in employment while in the U.S. If asked, be prepared to verify what your spouse intends to do with their time while in the U.S.
Dependents Remaining at Home
If your spouse and children are staying behind in your home country, be prepared to verify how they will support themselves in your absence. This can be especially tricky if you are the primary source of income for your family. If the consular officer gains the impression your family members will need you to send money from the U.S. for their support, your student visa application will almost certainly be denied. If your family will join you at a later time, it’s helpful to have them apply at the same post where you applied for your visa.
Maintain a Positive Attitude
Don’t argue with the consular officer. If you’re denied a student visa, ask for written documentation explaining the reason for the denial. You may also ask for a list of documents needed that may help overcome a denial at your next interview.