USA: Student Visa Interview

Published On: 06 Jul 2012

 | Last Updated On: 19 Jun 2013

Most students think that obtaining a US student visa is a herculean task. This may be because sometimes visa applications are rejected by the embassy despite having all the required documents and meeting all the criteria.  

The visa interview is essentially conducted to…

  • Determine whether the sole purpose of your travel is to pursue a program of study
  • Understand your ability and intention to be a full-time student
  • Know your financial status and plans to fund your education

The interviewer also wants to be assured that you will return to your home country on completion of your study.

Below are a few pointers that could help you prepare for your student visa interview:

Know the process in detail:

Visit the website of a US embassy in your country and get information regarding the visa application process. This will help you know the specifics to prepare the required documents and understand what to expect in the interview. Keep in mind that a visa should be applied for no more than 90 days prior to the expected date of arrival at the university as listed on the I-20.

Be prepared:

Preparing for the interview is a must for all those who are applying for a visa. First and foremost, identify your long-term goals and its importance and relevance. Prepare for most commonly asked questions. Reach the consulate a little early. Ask for an interpreter if you are not conversant in English. Keep your documents in place. Know the details mentioned in your application. Learn about the university, course, people and your funding options. Take care of your appearance so as to be presentable at the interview as the image you present of yourself is often as important as your responses to the questions.

Document Preparation:

Bring the following to the visa interview:

  • The I-20 form,
  • All school documents,
  • Test scores,
  • Acceptance letter from the university,
  • Evidence of funding,
  • Bank statements,
  • Real estate holdings evidence,
  • Business card if you work,
  • Letters of recommendation for your educational plan,
  • Letters from future employers in your home country.

Take any additional documents that you feel would help you prove your ties to your home country and intent to return home. Be completely familiar with all information on the I-20 form, especially those relating to finance.

Remember to fill in the applications /forms neatly and completely. If you are getting copies of your documents, ensure that the copies are clear and readable. Organize your documents in proper logical order. A well-organized and orderly set of documents will make it easier for you to find the right one quickly during the interview. Being organized will also help you stay calm.

Answer to the point and truthfully:

Know your personal plan well and avoid any prepared speech or script. It is your sincerity and the clarity of your plan that will help you be persuasive. They are looking for evidence that you have given serious thought to your plans. Provide to-the-point, clear, and concise answers. Do not provide any information that is not relevant or is not asked for. Always give honest answers. Do not lie or exaggerate. If you are caught lying by the visa officer, your chances of getting a visa will be ruined. Communicate clearly. Do not hesitate to politely ask to repeat or rephrase a question if you don't understand it.

Some frequently asked questions:

  • Have you been to the US before?
  • How did you know about the university or college?
  • Why this particular university?
  • How many universities or colleges have you applied to?
  • What were the responses from these other places?
  • Why study in the US and not India?
  • What is the scope of the chosen course and its relevance to you?
  • Is this course available in India? If yes, why not study in India?
  • Who is funding your education?
  • What is your family income?
  • Are you being sponsored by someone? If yes, what is the relationship you hold with your sponsor?
  • Why do you think the university has offered you a scholarship (if they have)?
  • Have you taken GRE, GMAT etc.? If not, why?
  • Do you want to work in the US?
  • What will you do after you go back to your home country?
  • Do you have any friends or relatives in the US?

As mentioned before, prior preparation for a visa interview is a must. Make sure you are prepared thoroughly. Your dream to study in the US will be realized only if you successfully clear the visa interview.

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