Getting your student visa - for real!

Getting your student visa - for real!

There has been a lot of chatter and buzz about student visas lately. I've been hearing from some students, who happen to be from a variety of places, that they were turned down for a visa. Visas have also been the topic of many student's questions. So, what's the deal?!  Let's start with the good news...Almost 86% of student visa applications are accepted, reports EducationUSA. The odds are in your favor. Hold onto that fact and don't be too intimidated. So, what about the small percentage of students that are turned down? The most common reason student visa applications are denied is if the visa officer is not confident in the student's intent to return. William Fish with the Washington International Education Council states:

"To determine your "intent to return" home, the visa officer will ask you a series of questions about your connections to your home country and about your study plans. You will have to demonstrate to the officer that your family has the ability to pay for the first year of your proposed stay in the United States and that you have realistic plans to finance the remainder of your education."
I realize that the visa interview process can be nerve-racking, which can make any interview difficult. But,  it is crucial that you are prepared to explain your plans to return home. Highline Community College has some general great tips to help you prepare: Helpful Hints for your interview Before you go, spend some time thinking about yourself, your personal goals, and why you want to study in the U.S. The consular officer will ask you a lot of questions about your future plans, both for your studies and when you return home! Essential points of a Visa interview:
  • Have a clear plan.
  • Describe why, where and what you plan to study in the U.S.
  • Demonstrate adequate funding to cover tuition and living expenses. Bring documents proving there is a valid source of funds.
  • Explain your intent to return home. Be very specific about your personal situation and avoid generalities. It is extremely important that you establish a strong motive to return to your country after you complete your studies.
  • If at all possible, do the interview in English. You may be nervous, but it shows that you are dedicated to learning and that you have the ability to study at a U.S. school. If your I-20 states that you will initially enroll in intensive English courses, you can request to have a visa interview in your native language.
  • Bring all necessary documents!
  • Make sure you pay your SEVIS fee before your interview.
Commonly asked interview questions: Practice!
  • Why do you want to study at Highline Community College in the United States?
  • Do you have any family members in the United States?
  • If you have relatives in the United States, who are they, where do they live, and what is your relationship?
  • What ties do you have in your home country that will draw you home?
  • Who is funding your educational expenses?
If you are denied, ask the visa officer why your application was denied. Sometimes visa officers will unfairly deny an application based on the school the student is wishing to attend - this is not always correct. This is why it is not only important to ask about the reasoning for denial, but to also contact the school you are planning to attend. School officials who work with international students are very knowledgeable about visas. They want you to attend their school and they will help you if they can.

Remember, 86% are approved!!