Excel in your visa interview

By Olushola Samuel

Study Visa interview often get some applicants scared. It is nonetheless an important aspect of securing Visa for a move  into many advanced countries for study. Here you will know many things about the interview and prepare yourself accordingly. I will use US F-1 Visa as a case study. The tips and the questions can also be used to prepare for interview for other advanced countries like UK, Canada, Australia etc. 

The reasons for the interview

The interview is arguably the most important part of your F1 visa application. This will be the make or break of your entire process of obtaining a US student visa. The purpose behind the F1 visa interview is that the consular officer wants to know more about you as an applicant aside of what the documents say about you and understand if you wish to enter the United States to study for real, or if there is any other reason behind their application.

Therefore, it is important you prepare in advance for the interview. Aside from arriving in time, trying not to be nervous. Ensure you wear appropriate clothes, you should also check about commonly asked questions, which you will see in this article, and try to prepare answers prior to their interview.

F1 Visa Interview Tips

1. Answer the questions clearly, do not take a lot of time to think, since the interview is short.

2. Provide the consular with all the documents he requires to see. Organize your documents prior to your visa interview so you will not have a total mess in your hands when you go at the embassy/consulate.

3. Keep calm, and try to avoid drinking any alcohol at least 24 hours before your interview.

4. On the day of the interview eat before going to the appointment center, since sometimes you might have to wait a bit longer than foreseen.

Most Common F1 Visa Interview Questions?

The consular officers usually ask similar questions to every F1 visa candidate. This is in your favor since it helps you prepare in advance. Usually, the interviewer asks you questions related to your:

Study plans

University choice

Academic capability

Financial status

Post-graduation plans

The most common F1 visa interview questions are the following:

Why are you going to the United States? What will you specialize in for your degree? What will be your major?

The interviewer will ask you these questions one by one. This is just a ‘warm-up’ for the questions to come. You should tell him/her that you have been admitted to an educational institution in the United States. Do not talk a lot. Give short (but not very short) answers, and try not to gibberish since the visa consular will not like that.

You can talk about your course modules as well. Always get acquainted with your course modules. The consular may ask. 

Why are you planning to continue your education? Can you not continue your education in your home country? Why choose the United States of America? Why not choose Canada or Australia?

He/she will ask about your choice of the US as a study destination instead of another country. Try to give more specific answers.

Avoid giving answers as “US is a powerful nation” or “because it has a strong or developed economy” because such common or over-used answers will make the interviewer think that you admire the United States in a way that you wish to live there even after the completion of your studies. Instead, try to talk more about the university/college you will be attending. You can mention professors who lecture in that institution, and are well known as professionals of their field, etc. You can also mention some highlighted features of it such as world ranking, the research facility, the faculty profile, alumni profile, etc. Talk about the quality of the school you want to go in the US in relation to your chosen course.

How many colleges did you apply to? How many schools did you get admitted to? How many schools rejected you?

The consular officer wants to shed light on your qualifications as a student and future professional. Keep in mind that students admitted at higher caliber universities will have better chances for a visa. However, you should be honest, when telling how many colleges have rejected you before being admitted to this one. If you lie, the interviewer can easily find out, which may lead to your visa application rejection.

Do you know your professors at that university? What are their names? What city is your school located?

If you know very little about the university you have been admitted, it would be better for you if you did some research before you attend your visa interview. The interviewer will ask you about the names of professors or other people in charge of the university. Take care to read about the most famous professors at the university, so you can mention their names and any price they have won, a book they have published or any other achievement of them.

The consular might also mention some notable alumni to you, if they know any, or ask you whether you know about any notable alumni of the university you have been admitted to. These questions are just to check if you are really interested in getting a proper education, or you are just using this as a way to enter and remain in the US.

Have you been to the United States before?

Answer honestly. Tell about the reasons you have visited the United States before, i.e tourism, training, medical reasons, etc. If you have never been to the United States before you can also say that this is not because you did not want to, but you did not have the chance. Give the impression to the consular that if you don’t get the chance to study there, you would still like to visit the country as a tourist.

What are your test scores (GRE, GMAT, SAT, TOEFL, IELTS)? What was your previous GPA?

Even if your university has admitted you, the consular officer will still want to know your likelihood of success at university. You can simply say your performance in any of the above test.

How do you plan to fund the entire duration of your education?

With these questions, the interviewer wants to discover how you are planning to fund your stay in the United States. If you have enough savings for the entire period you will be in the United States then present that to the consular officer. Otherwise, if you have a sponsor as parents, cousins, partner, etc., then you will have to present how they will fund your stay in the United States, and if they are capable to do so. If you have won a scholarship for that present documents that prove your statement.

How much does your school cost? How will you meet these expenses?

Tell the consular how much does your school cost, and how much you will have to pay for your accommodation and other expenses. Tell him/her how much money you will be receiving each month and try to prove that it will be enough to cover your studies. Even if you are planning to work some student on-campus job, it would be better not to mention it, because this would lead the interviewer to think you might become a burden to the United States public funds.

Healthcare expenses in the United States may be unaffordable for many international students. The treatment of a broken leg or broken arm will cost you $2,500, while staying at a US hospital may cost over $10,000, on average.

Although it is not a requirement and the interviewer may not ask you about health insurance, you could provide proof of health insurance to convince your interviewer regarding financial subsistence during your time in the United States.

What is your sponsor’s occupation?

They want to know if your sponsor is really capable to cover your expenses.

Do you have any brother/sister?

If your parents will be your sponsor, then the interviewer wants to know if they would be capable to do so, or they will have to financially support other people too.

Have you got any loans? How do you plan on repaying your loan?

If you do not have any loans you simply say that you do not. Otherwise, honestly tell the interviewer about the quantum of the loan you have applied for and from where you have received the same.

You can also say that you will be able to find a good job in your home country upon your graduation and repay the same. Do not suggest by any means that you would be paying off the loan by taking up odd jobs in the US.

Will you come back to home during vacations/ holidays?

Again, the visa officer wants to know about your relations with your home country and your family. Tell them that you will be going back home on your holidays to meet family and friends even if you do not. If you plan to stay in the United States during summer or winter holidays and work do not tell that to the interviewer. He will have the impression that you are going to the United States to earn money and that you might stay there even upon the completion of your studies.

Do you have relatives or friends currently in the US?

Answer honestly. Even if you have some faraway relatives that you only meet every three-four years, tell the consular about them. Or if you have a friend you have only met once or twice, you will have to tell the consular again.

What are your plans post-graduation? Do you have a job or career in mind after you graduate?

Since the F1 Visa is a non-immigrant visa, you will have to convince the consular that you do not plan to remain in the US but rather to return to your home country. If you tell him more about what you plan to do, you will most likely convince him/her that you have no intention to stay in the US after your graduation.

Do you plan on returning back to your home country? Are you sure you won’t stay in the US? Will you continue to work for your current employer after you graduate?

Try to tell to the interviewer that you have strong ties to your home country and that you will for sure return. Tell them you have your family, closest friends, or a partner in your home country if you really do. If you have any pet, tell him/her about that too. Mention any property, business, organization, etc., that you have and because of which you will return.

Why should you be given a student visa?

This is the very last question you will be asked. Try to put forward a strong case of why you should be issued a visa. Try to make a strong point of your case, and be confident. Once again, do not gibberish. Even while answering this question, try to convince the interviewer by giving him the impression you have no plans to remain in the United States and that you will return to your home country for sure. Tell the interviewer you want to be the best in your field and the school you want to go would equip you to be the best. 

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