F1 Visa Interview Guide: While getting into a University in the USA is a matter of cheer, exhilaration is often dampened by the prospects of a Visa Interview. Students from across the country swear by gruelling sessions with Visa Interviewer and how all their plans might simply go to waste if the person rejects the application. Well…all that is true but at the same time, there is nothing to fear. The interviewer is not tasked with a target of rejecting applications! His/her only purpose is to validate your reasons for visiting and studying in the USA and by no means are they intent on thwarting your US dreams – until and unless the dream constitutes of staying as illegal in the United States of America!
It is important to understand that while the F-1 Visa process and interview is an integral part of your US Student Visa Application, it is by no means the lengthiest. In fact, on average, the US Visa Interview would last about 3 to 4 minutes (sometimes even lesser). And contrary to normal beliefs, the Visa Officer would not scrutinize all your documents. In fact, they only ask for any documents on the rarest of rare occasions. As a rule, the Visa Officers do not ask for any documents. Though you are always recommended to carry them with you, it is important to note that you must not offer your documents until and unless asked.
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This guide tries to remove a few misconceptions about the Visa Interview, provides Basic Do's and Don’ts and also lists down a few frequently asked questions with pointers to guide you on how to best answer these questions. This guide provides you with facts about USA study visas which will help you in applying for an F1 study visa. Remember, there are no rules here. Like any interview, every interview is bound to be unique. What remains constant, however, is that like any interview the key is confidence and intent.
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Preparing for the US F1 Visa Interview Day
Things you should know before you go for your US Student Visa Interview:
Like any interview, it is a formal interaction between two or more people – the Interviewer/s and the Interviewee. And like any interview, you need to prep for this one as well. So, before you start prepping for the questions or worrying about the Interview Officer, here are a few things you must do. Remember, doing your homework is the key to success…
- Prepare your File–neatly catalogued with every possible document in place and marked
- Though you would not be asked for any documents, it is important to ensure all the documents are filed and catalogued (refer to the upcoming list of documents to carry during the interview)
- Go through the Admission Essay or SOP you have submitted, the complete list of Universities and courses you had applied to
- Thoroughly revise the course you have enrolled for, the kind of credit systems it has, the tenure, the faculty and the course highlights – basically why you chose that particular university
- Read up about the state you would be visiting, the University’s history and the nearby location
- Go through your Financial Documents to clearly understand how you would be paying for your education in the USA
Check out a video on USA Visa counselling sessions by in-house Shiksha counsellors. This video covers important topics like Steps to apply for a visa, documents you need to carry at the time of visa interview and experts handling students' queries.
Documents to carry for your US Student F1 Visa Interview
There is a list of supporting documents required for every application. In the case of an F-1 Visa interview, the major documents cover your personal information, academic background, professional documents, and financial documents. It is always recommended to remain prepared with all the documents handy.
Check out the whole List of Documents required for the US Student F1 Visa Interview.
Dress Code for your F1 Visa Interview
Any interview starts from the moment you come face to face with your interviewer. And the first impression is often ascertained by your dress. So before D-Day, think about your wardrobe carefully and keep the following things in mind.
Tip 1: Keep it formal but not overdone
- Formal Attire for Men includes formal shirts and trousers and for girls, it could be the same or formal Indian Attire which could be a simple sari or a salwar kameez
- Remember, do not choose garish outfits or outfits that don’t match the weather. For instance, you need not wear a full suit if your interview is in the hot month of June. Instead, choose a simple formal shirt and trousers
Tip 2: Choose light or solid colours
- Avoid fluorescent colours. Instead, choose pastels when the interview is in summer or solid colours when the interview is in winter
- Avoid shaded garments as they tend to distract
Tip 3: Minimal Accessories
- It is important to keep your accessories to the minimal
- Danglers, long necklaces and bangles that jingle are a strict no for women
- If you must accessorize due to religious beliefs, please keep it to the bare minimum – anklets, for instance, that do not make noise are advised if you simply must wear them
- Men are advised against wearing heavy bracelets or chains that jingle
Tip 4: Make sure your clothes are clean and well ironed
- Waiting for your interview can be time-consuming, hence you are advised to wear clothes that do not wrinkle quickly/easily
- Needless to say that your clothes should be neat – messy clothes call out for unnecessary attention and are not acceptable
Tip 5: Make sure you smell: neither good nor bad!
- While it is important to wear deodorant or light talc to ensure that you do not smell bad, it is important to avoid strong colognes or perfumes
- The Visa Officer might be allergic to the same and you would not want him/her sneezing through the interview or worse…being uncomfortable about the smell
Tip 6: Wear your glasses if the same is in your passport
- If your passport has a picture with glasses, make sure to wear them
- You can wear contacts if it is otherwise!
Talking about preparing for the interview, you might want to refer to F1 Visa Timeline.
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What to do and what not to do during the US F1 Visa Interview?
Like any interview, there are a few things you must do and then some that you must not do. Most of them are related to one another. We have tabulated the same:
A smile brings confidence. There is no reason to look serious. Going to the USA for your Studies was your dream and you are closer to it. There, you got a reason to smile…
Your primary intent to travel to the USA is studying and there is no reason to be nervous about it. Thousands of students from all around the world do that. While a little nervousness is natural, sweating or hyperventilating is not a good sign. If you tend to get too fidgety, try some breathing exercises before you start your interview to keep your nerves calm.
Speak in English
Speak English with a forced Accent
Being able to communicate in English is one of the primary requirements for pursuing education in the USA. You have to be able to speak in English.
Visa Officers can understand Indian accents, so do not try to throw off an American accent. Be clear, crisp, and without forced accents as much as possible.
Look at the Interviewer
Not being able to make eye contact is considered a sign of dishonesty. Practice at home and do look at the interviewer when answering the questions.
Looking in the eye and constantly staring without blinking are two different things. Continuous staring can make the interviewer uncomfortable – remember to blink while talking.
Carry your Documents
Offer your document unless asked
Always make sure the file you carry is complete with all the necessary documents and it is catalogued properly so that in case you were asked to present a document, you have it ready.
The visa officer, in all probability, would not ask for any documents. Please do not offer to show it to them (until and unless they specifically ask to see something).
Emphasise Strong Home Ties
Show you are a potential immigrant
You should be able to convince the visa officer that you will return back to your home country after completing your studies since you have strong ties.
Do not emphasise staying back for a long period after the course completion. Also, do not extend your thoughts for getting a full-time job in the US and staying there permanently.
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Commonly Asked F1 Visa Interview Questions with Answering Tips
F1 Visa Interview Questions and Answers: We cannot say it often enough – every interviewer is different and there are no set questions he/she might ask. However, the intent of the interview is simple enough:
- One is to understand your intent – whether it is to settle in the USA or to study and come back
- Two, and more importantly, to assess whether or not you can afford your stay in the USA
Based on the simple understanding, here are a few sample questions that might be asked and tips on how to answer them. Check out the following US interview questions and answers for reference:
Q. Why have you chosen this specific University?
Tip: You should go through the website and handbook of your university carefully. Pen down some highlighted features such as World ranking, the research facility, the faculty profile, Alumni profile etc. The Visa officer wants to know the reason behind joining the particular University. Also, reasons like – because I only got admitted from that University is not acceptable. Choosing the university should not come out like it did not matter which university you got through. You should be excited about going to that particular university.
Q. Which all universities did you apply to (both admits and rejects)?
Tip: Visa Officer wants to know if you are really serious about your education. Even if you applied to 4 and were accepted in 1 and got 3 rejects, honesty is the only way. Be honest about which University you chose. Be confident about the selection process you followed and in as short a statement as possible, suggest how you were really happy with the acceptance. For example,
On the basis of my specific course requirement, I had shortlisted and applied to four universities. This was among my top two choices and I was lucky to get an admission from the same.
Q. Where did you complete your bachelor's?
Tip: Mention the name of the course and the university. If the university has a high ranking or some specific feature, mention that too. Keep it crisp and to the point.
Q. Who is sponsoring you?
Tip: If you have a scholarship to study in the USA, say that. Else mention the name of your sponsors, you may add that your father and mother are supporting you for your higher education as per the financial documents.
Q. What does your father/mother do?
Tip: The Visa officer basically wants to verify the financial capability of the sponsors. You are advised to go through the Income Tax Returns (ITR), and supporting documents of your sponsors carefully. Have a good idea of the income source of your father, mother and any other person who is sponsoring you. Also, do not simply suggest that he/she is in business or service. Be very clear about the nature of their work and their specific role
He is the Senior Branch Manager with SBI, Patiala Branch.
She is a Professor at Hyderabad University, she teaches Mercantile Law.
Q. What is your father's/mother’s/sponsor’s Income?
Tip: Visa Officer wants to know if your sponsor’s annual income is sufficient enough to meet your expenses of studying abroad. They think that money can be put into banks, but annual income is proof that they heavily rely upon it to decide the student's sponsor’s capability to meet his/her educational expenses. You should mention the annual income as per IT Returns filed and submitted to the University for your I-20.
Q. How many brothers and sisters do you have?
Tip: Such kind of questions is basically to verify whether your family has other members for whom your parents may have to raise fund later on. Basically, such questions are asked to evaluate the balance of income and expenses of the family.
Q. Do you have any relatives in the USA?
Tip: Be truthful in this instance. Visa Officer will have a full record of this (about your brother/ sister/ mother/ father) with them. If your distant aunt or uncle stays there, then you don't have to say about them. All that matters is your immediate relatives i.e. own brother, sister, father or mother. Any of your relatives overstaying their legally permitted stay in the USA is not favourably considered.
Q. Why don't you do this course in your country?
Tip: You should know what difference the course would bring to you if done from the USA instead of India. If the course is not available in India, you can tell the Visa Officer that it is not offered in India. If the same course is available in India, highlight the differences in the quality of education and the course structure in India and the USA. You should convince the Visa Officer that doing this course from the USA will add value to your profile. Talk about a few pieces of research being conducted in that field. Technical words work out when other things don't.
Q. What will you do after completing MS/MBA/UG? Tell me how can you prove that you are going to come back?
Tip: If you intend to work after completing your course then say so. Tell them you are looking forward to working with some companies back in India. It would be good to mention the names of a few companies. If you were working, you could mention that you have an offer of joining your last organization back after completing your education. If you are inclined towards continuing your education and pursuing research, mention the same as well. But do provide a hint that your family continues to be in India and you would want to come back to them once your academic pursuits are over.
Q. Why Study in the USA?
Tip: Visa officer wants to understand your intentions to go to the USA. As you are applying for a student Visa so you should only talk about how the USA offers quality education which would help you bring the best of the world to your country. Focus on highlighting the infrastructure available, the research and the method of teaching. Instead of the country, try to focus on the University and the course to highlight that it is only about education.
Q. Have you received any scholarship? Why has the University granted a Scholarship to you?
Tip: You should know how many scholarships you may get and probably the reason why a university is giving scholarships to your Visa Officer wants to know if you are aware of the scholarship programs and financial aid. Also if you have submitted any Statement of Purpose for the scholarship then mention that and carry a copy of the same.
Q. Have you got any Loans? How do you plan on repaying your Loan?
Tip: Answer about the quantum of the loan you have applied for and from where you have received the same. Also, to repay the same, suggest that you are confident to find a good opportunity in India after you graduate and you have all the intent to pay it off with your income. Do not suggest you would be paying off the loan by taking up part-time jobs in the US.
Q. Will you come back home during vacations/holidays?
Tip: Visa officer wants to assess your ties to your home country and family. You can say that you plan to come back to meet your family and friends here in India. You should not say that you plan to work in the USA as that shows you are not financially strong and you are going there to earn money. This will make the Visa officer believe that even after completing your education, you would like to take up a job in the USA and try to settle there.
Apart from the above, the visa officer might ask you questions regarding your academic percentage, your sibling’s education and jobs as well as your current job. Remember, you need to be confident about your purpose – which is education from the USA and also confident that you can afford it.
So, take a deep breath and smile... All the best!
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