Coming to the United States to study is the dream and goal for many individuals worldwide and becoming an international student is not an easy task, but most great things in life do not come easy.

First, you have to apply to a college or university. After you jump the hurdle of getting accepted into a school, the next step is applying for the student visa, also known as the F-1 visa.

Thinking about the visa process, immigration consulate officers, the U.S. embassy, SEVIS fees, I-20 forms and other documents and terms that you need to be familiar with can be nerve-wracking! But don’t worry, here are some tips and guidelines to successfully prepare for your student visa interview.

Tip # 1

Schedule your visa interview as soon as you are accepted to a school. An interview may take anywhere from days to months to get an appointment, therefore you want to contact the U.S. embassy as soon as possible.

Tip # 2

Before you arrive at the U.S. embassy for your student visa interview, ensure that you have all the required documents. It is not a bad thing to bring too much information because you never know what the immigration officer will ask you for! So, here is a check list of the requested documents that you will need to have for your interview:

  • Form I-20 that was issued by your school, which must be signed and dated by the school official on line 10 and by yourself on line 11.
  • Your passport that is valid for at least six months.
  • Completed visa application forms (contact embassy for exact forms).
  • Receipt for the visa application fee.
  • Receipt for the SEVIS I-901 fee.
  • Two (2) 2×2 passport size photographs.
  • Your school’s admission letter.
  • Transcripts, diplomas and certificates from previous schools attended.
  • Standardized test scores such as TOEFL/IELTS, SAT, GRE, GMAT etc.

Financial evidence to show proof of sufficient funds to cover your tuition and living expenses for the period of your intended study (i.e. bank statement, bank letter, scholarship letter etc.). These documents must be current and from the last two months.

Any other document or information that will prove to the immigration officer that you do NOT want to remain in the U.S. after you finish your program (i.e. proof of property or residence, bank accounts, job offer, ties to your family and community in your home country).

It’s extremely important to be prepared!

Tip # 3

On the morning of the interview, double check your list of documents and ensure that you have all required items. Also, make sure to be well dressed! Treat this interview like you would any job interview. You want to impress the immigration officer so they take you seriously as an academic student.

Tip # 4

Do not be late for your interview. Make sure you arrive at least 30-45 minutes before the scheduled appointment. Reason being, the U.S. embassy is very similar to an airport, where the lines are ridiculously long and you have to deal with security checkpoints. So, be prepared to go through metal detectors, have your bags checked and even be physically searched. Do not bring any prohibited items (read up on their rules and regulations!) Also, be prepared to do an ink-free, digital fingerprint scan.

Tip # 5

After you go through security, you will more than likely be given a number to wait in a room with other individuals. Do not get nervous. While you wait for your scheduled interview, read through your documents (I-20 form, acceptance letter, bank statement, affidavit etc.) so you are thorough, clear and confident in your answers to the immigration officer.

Tip # 6

During the interview, be honest, speak clearly, remain business like but still friendly. Be prepared to talk about your career goals, program and school of choice, why you want to study in the U.S. and your plans after you complete your studies (make sure it’s clear that you want to return to your home country!)

Tip # 7

Be prepared to talk about anything and everything. The interview may last anywhere from several minutes to 30 minutes, even longer depending on your immigration officer. Therefore, it’s important to have a dialogue, be comfortable, smile and just be yourself.

Tip # 8

Do not argue with the interviewer. Just answer all questions truthfully. If you do not know the answer or you do not understand the question, simply explain that to the immigration officer. Do not make up stories because if the immigration officer thinks you are lying, then your student visa will not be approved.

Tip # 9

After the interview, if you are issued the student visa, smile and say thank you. They will take your passport because they need to stamp the student visa inside. This usually takes a few days to process.

Tip # 10

If your student visa is denied, do not get angry. Simply inquire why you were not approved and what documents you need to bring next time. Many international students get denied their visas on their first interview, so don’t get discouraged. You may re-apply within 6 months.

So, there you go … now you are fully prepared to master your student visa interview. Being an international student in the U.S. is a wonderful opportunity and you should be proud that you are taking this step to further your education. Once your visa is approved, be prepared to start the journey of a lifetime!

If you are interested in joining the CBT College international student family, you may contact me via email – lisag@cbt.edu and I will be more than happy to assist you!

Good luck on your interview!