The moment you were waiting for has come and you got admitted to an American college or university. You’re gloating and excited like never before and you should be! American universities only accept the best candidates so this truly is a great accomplishment. Your life is about to change significantly, not just in terms of your higher education, but also your entire future.
Studying in the USA will highly impact your career as well so you should benefit from this amazing opportunity as much as you can.
There is one small step left that you need to take – the student visa interview. You’ve probably heard numerous stories about how daunting the whole visa application process can be. Don’t worry! Nothing is as terrible as it sounds, not even the visa interview. Read further to be fully prepared and find out some useful tips for avoiding visa rejection for studying in the U.S.
Apply for the right study visa for USA
There are two student visa categories for people who want to study in the USA:
- The F-1 student visa which is for 'academic' studies
- The M visa is for 'non-academic or vocational' studies
Try to apply for your visa three months before your planned travel to the U.S. This will give you enough time in case there are delays at the embassy or wish to make an appeal in case your visa is denied.
Find out more about the required documents and the conditions you have to meet to apply for the U.S. student visa.
How to handle the U.S. student visa interview
The student visa application for the United States is comparable to a job interview. For international students, the simple idea of entering the embassy and having a discussion with a visa officer will seem as an intimidating experience. Here are six key points to consider in order to feel more comfortable during your visa interview.
- Dress professionally: The first impression will be in regards to your outfit, so be sure to wear a business attire. A visa interview is a formal event and you should treat it accordingly.
- Keep answers to the point: Give quick and complete information when you answer the questions of the visa officer. Proving you have good English skills during the interview is important and would make a good impression. However, if you are unable to answer some questions in English, you can ask for an interpreter. This will not affect the outcome of your interview, as many students choose specifically to study in the U.S. to learn the English language.
- Be honest: Do not give vague answers, don’t memorize a speech and do not make overstatements about how wonderful the United States is and how you have always dreamed to see this country. It is a good idea to prepare a little before the interview, but the visa officer will simply focus on the general idea of how it would be in your benefit to study at an American college or university and in the benefit of the American institution to have you as their student.
- Name the school and location: State exactly where you will study and for what career your studies in the USA prepare you for. Try to explain in a few details why you chose the specific school and give information about where you will live.
- Prove your commitment: In case your grades are not exactly high, you will be required to explain how you will succeed as a student in the U.S. It would be a good idea to have prepared a letter from a school teacher explaining how the study programme you applied to makes sense.
- Adapt to your interviewer: Try to figure out if the interviewer is in a hurry or not; if so, keep your answers short. On the other hand, if the officer seems to enjoy the discussion, you can extend your speech a little, but don’t be more specific than needed.
Common questions you should expect during the visa interview
- How many universities did you apply to?
- To which universities did you get admitted?
- Why do you want to study in the USA?
- Can you tell me some details about your chosen university?
- What is your GPA percentage?
- Have you been to the U.S. before?
- What are your plans after graduation?
- Did you receive any scholarships?
- Who will finance your studies?
- Do you have any relatives in the USA?
Reasons why your USA visa application might get rejected
1. If you show your intention to remain in the U.S. after you graduate
This is the most common reason that makes visa officers reject a student’s F1 visa and the most important aspect they follow during the visa interview. Without any exaggeration, try to make it as clear as possible that your only plan is to study in the States and that you will return home after you graduate.
2. If you cannot show financial ability to support yourself
You have to prove that you have the finances to live in the US. If you don't, you'll need to show your willingness to take a job to fund your studies and that contradicts the purpose of a student visa.
3. If your university/degree looks suspicious
If the visa officer considers that the university you applied to may not be accredited or sees other aspects that will make him/her wonder of the credibility of your chosen course or degree, this could be a reason to reject your student visa application.
Your school must be approved by the Student and Exchange Visitors Program, Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
4. If you have members of your family already living in the U.S.
This raises the suspicion that either you apply for a student visa under a false pretext and your real plan is to immigrate or that you will remain in the U.S. after you finish your studies and pursue a career, with no intention of returning home.
Staying positive and confident is crucial during the visa interview
Remember to stay positive the whole time during your interview. You might be surprised by a question or don’t exactly give the answers as you planned or thought you would. This is completely normal, considering most candidates are more or less nervous during this kind of interview. So try to keep a smile no matter what and remember that showing you are a confident person is a key element in this case. Good luck!