According to The U.S. Department of State website “A citizen of a foreign country who wishes to enter the United States must first obtain a visa, either a nonimmigrant visa for temporary stay or an immigrant visa for permanent residence. You must have a student visa to study in the United States.”
There are 4 types of student visa
F-1 Visa: This is the most common type of student visa. The F-1 visa is given to any would be international student to attend a U.S. high school, a specialized, nonvocational institution, seminary, college or university. After a successful arrival in the U.S soil, customs officials will give you an I-94 form that confirms you legal entry into the country. You should carry this (or copies) with you at all times.
M-1 Visa: The M-1 visa is for international residents who want to attend technical programs. With an M-1 visa, students are not permitted to work while they attend the university. In addition, some students may be required to pay their full tuition bill before the program begins.
J-1 Visa: The J-1 visa is for international residents who want to participate in a U.S.-based, on-the-job training course. Most J-1 visa holders are part of workplace exchange programs and live with host families while in the country. J-1 visas usually last for up to 18 months, at which point the student must go back to their home country.
B Visa: B Visas are for students who want to enrol in a brief recreational course of study, not for credit toward a degree. B-1 visas are for business and B-2 visas are for visiting and tourism.
Before the day of your visa interview: – Preparation Tips
- It is important to apply for your student visa as far in advance as possible. Many consulates recommend that appointments be made no more than 90 days from the intended date of travel, but some can make earlier arrangements for interviews.
- A passport valid
- Scholarship information (if any)
- School admission letter
- Transcripts and diplomas/Degree from previous institutions attended
- Scores from standardized tests required by the educational institution such as the TOEFL, SAT or IELTS/GMAT
- Any information that proves that you will return to your home country after finishing your studies in the United States. (if any)
- Research Research Research! Know everything you can about the program and how it fits you – The more you know about your program, the more focused your answers will be. You should also know about the atmospheric environments of the school for health reasons. The Visa Official would want to know if you have given serious thought before choosing your course.
On the day of your visa interview: – Tips
- Arrive early and dress appropriately. Failure to attend the interview may result in your application being automatically refused. In the event you cannot attend, contact the Visa Office to reschedule
- Remain calm. Avoid fidgeting
- Answer all the Visa Officer’s questions to you openly and honestly.
- Keep it simple, know your stuff, and try to provide the most direct answers that you can.
- Keep all your documents in order and neatly filed.
- Maintain eye contact: Do not look away or down when you give an answer to a question. It will make you seem nervous and unconfident and will hurt your self-esteem.
- Dress Well. Since you are a student, dress like one. Avoid business suit! Don’t go in shorts and t-shirt. Your native attire will be welcoming
- Speak English: You’re going to an English speaking country and as a student, it is expected that you understand and can read in English. Don’t use an unfamiliar accent. Just flow naturally. The interviewer will understand. An experienced interviewer can tell the difference besides, it gives a hint if your English is strong enough to speak up in class.
- Do ask Ask for clarification if you do not understand a question to make sure you are providing the correct information as required.
F1 visa interview questions are on personal level, educational background, financial stability, work experience as the visa officer needs to make sure your intentions are clear and you are eligible to travel to the States and live there for the duration of your studies
Documents to bring to the F1 visa interview
In general, students are asked to provide the following documentation:
- Original I-20
- Proof of payment (receipt) of SEVIS fee. If you have not received an official receipt in the mail showing payment and you paid the fee electronically, the consulate will accept the temporary receipt you printed from your computer. If you do not have a receipt, the consulate may be able to see your payment electronically if your fee payment was processed at least 3 business days before your interview
- Completed DS-160 form (Non-immigant visa application)
- Certificate of Enrollment
- Valid Passport
- Academic transcripts (with translations)
- Financial evidence that shows you have sufficient funds to cover your tuition and living expenses during the period you intend to study.
- Passport-sized photograph
- General information
- Intended Course(s) information
- Financial information
- What is the name of the school you wish to attend
- Did you use an educational agent at any stage
- Who is/was your agent and why did you choose them
- Why do you wish to study in the U.S.
- Did you consider any other countries
- How did you first learn about this school
- Why did you choose this university/college/school
- Why did you choose this course and how does it relate to your previous study
- Why not stay in your own country to study, if similar courses are available there
- What job opportunities with this degree provide
- What is your plan after completing the course
- Do you intend to stay in the U.S. (for additional studies) or are you returning home
- Do you have any family living in the U.S.
- Do you plan to work in the U.S. during the course or after you graduate
Successful visa interviews are not just based on documentation and background. Personality, enthusiasm, confidence, positive outlook, appearance, and clear communication count heavily in a visa interview
Intended Course(s) information
- What is the course name and academic level
- What qualification will you get after the course if you pass
- When does the course start and finish
- How many terms/semesters is it
- What are the subjects of the course
- What will you study during the course
- How are you going to be assessed on the course
- Did you do any research before choosing the school/course
- What other schools/courses did you consider, and why did you decide on this one
- How is this course going to benefit you for your future career and/or academic plans
- Do you have your GRE/TOEFL/IELTS/GMAT score reports
The first thing a visa officer might notice about you that will set him off is if you have memorized the answer to this question. Your answer must come about naturally and not seem as if you do not actually mean it.
Information about your documents
- Do you have your GRE/TOEFL/IELTS/GMAT score reports
- What was your major/ What was your specialization in Bachelors
- Can I see your Bachelors degree/diploma
- When and from which university did you graduate
- Can I see your mark sheets/transcripts
- Why do you have so many backlogs
Interviewer rarely check for backlogs except they sense your lack of confidence and your robotic response to the questions. Incase you do have backlogs, never talk about it if you were not asked. Having a Letter of Recommendation from your previous school regarding your backlogs may help.
- Who is going to pay your tuition fees and living costs
- Did you get any scholarship
- Do you know how much it costs to live in the U.S. and also what you might spend on day-to-day items such as food, travel and accommodation
- Do you know the total cost of the course and have an idea on any future courses
- Are you receiving scholarships or will you be receiving student loans
- If you are receiving loans, how will you repay them
You need to convince the officer that the United States is the best prospect for you and he should sense from your answer that you are passionate about it. The officer is mainly looking for a couple of solid points that justify your interest in studying in the country.
Living in the US
- Where is the school What city is it in and what part of the U.S. does it belong to
- Where have you arranged accommodation
- How much does accommodation cost in the city/town where you will be studying
- How will you commute between your accommodation and the school (bus, train, underground etc)
- Where are you planning to travel and what locations would you like to visit in the U.S