10 Points for Applying for a Non-Immigrant Visa
Read this information to be prepared for your visa interview!
- Ties to Your Home Country. Under U.S. law, all applicants for non-immigrant visas are viewed as intending immigrants until they can convince the consular officer that they are not. You must be able to show that you have reasons for returning to your country that are stronger than those for remaining in the United States. “Ties” to your home country includes the following: family, job, financial assets that you own or will inherit, investments, etc. If you are a prospective undergraduate, the interviewing officer may ask about your plans for future employment, family or other relationships, educational objectives, long-term plans in general, and career prospects in your home country. Each person’s situation is different, and there is no magic explanation or single document, certificate, or letter, which can guarantee visa issuance.
- English. Anticipate the interview will be conducted in English and not in your native language. Practice an English conversation with a native speaker before the interview.
- Speak for Yourself. Do not bring parents or family members with you to the interview. The Consular officer wants to interview you, not your family. A negative impression is created of you are not prepared to speak on your own behalf. If you are a minor applying for a high school program and need your parents there, they should wait in the other room.
- Know the School and Program and how it fits Your Career Plans. If you are not able to articulate the reason you will study a particular program, at a particular school, in the United States, you may not succeed in convincing the consular officer that you are planning to study, rather than to immigrate. You should also be able to explain how studying in the United States relates to your future professional career when you return home.
- Be Concise. Because of the volume of applications received, all consular officers are under considerable time pressure to conduct a quick and efficient interview. They must make a decision, for the most part, on the impressions they form during the first minute or two of the interview. What you say first and the initial impression you create are critical to your success. Keep your answers to the officer’s questions short and to the point.
- Supplemental Documentation. It should be clear to the consular officer what written documents you are presenting and what they signify. Lengthy written explanations cannot be quickly read or evaluated. Remember that you will have 2-3 minutes of interview time.
- Not All Countries Are Equal. Applicants from countries suffering economic problems or countries where many people have stayed as immigrants will have more difficulty getting visas. Statistically, applicants from those countries are more likely to be asked about job opportunities at home after their study in the United States.
- Employment. Your main purpose of coming to the United States should be to study, not to work before or after graduation. While many students do work off-campus during their studies, such employment is incidental to their main purpose of completing their U.S. education. You must be able to clearly articulate your plan to return home at the end of your program. If your spouse is also applying for an accompanying F-2 visa, be aware that F-2 dependents cannot, under any circumstances, be employed in the United States. If asked. Be prepared to address what your spouse intends to do with his or her time while in the United States. Volunteer work and attending school part-time are permitted activities.
- Dependents Remaining At Home. If your spouse and children are remaining behind in your country, be prepared to address how they will support themselves in your absence. This can be a tricky area if you are the primary source of income for your family. If the consular officer has the impression that your family members will need you to remit money from the United States to support them, your student visa will almost certainly be denied. If your family does decide to join you at a later time, it is helpful to have them apply at the same post where you applied for your visa.
- Maintain a Positive Attitude. Do not engage the consular officer in an argument. If you are denied a student visa, ask the officer for a list of documents he or she would suggest you bring in order to overcome the refusal, and try to get the reason you were denied in writing.