Visa Interview Process for F1 Students
Updated: May 7
Part of studying in the USA as an international student if you are not a dual citizen involves getting a government approved visa for the duration of your time in the USA.
There are plenty of resources online about student visas, but this blog includes some insider tips that government officials or your university advisor may not be able to share.
Here are the most important links to get started:
United States Customs and Immigration Services (USCIS) - Student Process to Navigate US Immigrations System
Read on to learn about preparing for the student visa interview...
I wrote a blog several months ago about the F1 student visa and some of the “rules of maintenance”. While this is great for students after they have obtained the visa, I realized I should write up something about getting students through the interview process first.
I often refer students and families to the state.gov site to learn about processes, but I am realizing more and more that sometimes the information is complicated and hard to understand.
First things first - how do you apply?
Obtain an I-20 from an SEVP approved school
*Note - exact processes can be different from embassy to embassy so check on your country’s embassy site for the F1 visa instructions
Complete the online DS-160 form
Pay the application fee (also called the I-901 fee)
Submit a photo with your Form DS-160
Schedule an in person interview
*Pro tip - check online for the visa wait times here.
Here are a few common questions to prepare for the interview:
1. Why do you want to study in the USA?
Be honest here and tell a bit of your story as to why you want to study abroad. It’s always good to mention the high quality of education in America and how you are excited for the opportunity to study there
2. What is your goal while studying abroad?
Mention that you are a degree seeking student, that you are excited to enroll at a school with a top engineering program, or that you are an athlete pursuing your favorite sport - this is your chance to highlight what is unique about studying abroad in the USA and how you plan to take advantage of it. This is also the chance to show that you’ve researched the school you plan to attend.
3. What do you intend to do after your studies are complete?
This question is important - make sure you highlight that you plan to return to your home country to work/study/live after you finish studying in the USA. Consulate officers want to see that you have a connection to your home country and plan to return after your studies. This is an important question to prepare for!
4. Do you have family in the USA?
You should be honest here, but always emphasize that your primary goal is going to the USA to study and that you don’t plan to live with or continue living with your family members after you complete your studies.
Here are a few important things to remember:
Documents to take with you:
Visa application fee receipt
Bank statements showing financial funding for study abroad
School transcripts and translated copies
Standardized test scores or English test scores
Materials that might be relevant to some students - if your English level is low, but you are going to study abroad to improve your English, you can submit a letter, course catalog, or proof that the school you are going to is offering ESL support
Okay, those are the most important parts of the visa interview process.
Until next time!