As part of the visa application process, students often have to attend a visa interview at their local US consulate. This procedure can be daunting, especially if English is not your first language, which is why we have compiled a list of common questions that you should prepare for before even entering the building.
What to expect before your visa interview
When you get to the US consulate, you will most likely need to stand in line as a security guard in front cross-checks each individual’s identification with their list of visa applicants for that particular day. You may be asked to show your passport, appointment letter, and US visa fee receipt as forms of identification. Once you get into the building, you will have to go through a variety of standards such as security, bag check, and item storage. You will only be allowed to bring in your visa documents and passport. After you pass the security checkpoint, you will be given instructions by the staff member there. They will most likely lead you to provide a fingerprint verification first, and then you will have to patiently wait for your interview.
What is the interview like?
The interviewer will be sitting behind a glass window and conduct the interview via a microphone and speaker. They will ask you questions related to you and your study plans, and if you need to show the interviewer any documents then you can pass it through the slot at the bottom of the glass window.
The interview questions will be related to your study plans, university choice, academic capability, financial capability, and post-graduation plans. We wanted to help you prepare for the interview, so we created a list of the most common F-1 visa questions as well as how to answer them for you.
Why do you want to study in the United States?
Tip: You should talk about wanting to pursue an education in one of the best countries for higher education and highlight the benefits that you can gain from studying in the US. For example, you might mention flexibility in the education system or program, top-ranked programs with renowned professors, cultural diversity, and etc.
Why can’t you continue your education in your home country or another country? Why the US?
Tip: Emphasize how no other country offers the same program and opportunities as the US, and how studying in the US will be the most beneficial path for you to take. You should also talk about your specific circumstances, especially if your country does not offer the same program that you are hoping to pursue in the US.
What are you planning to study?
Tip: Discuss the area of study that you are hoping to major in and why. For example, you might talk about wanting to study computer science in order to help create impactful tools that can be utilized in important industries, such as healthcare or business.
Why did you choose the university that you are planning to attend?
Tip: You can speak about the specific program that you have been accepted to, student organizations, faculty, or alumni network. Emphasize things about the university that are unique and important to you. Make it clear that you have done your research on the university and believe that it is the best institution for your educational endeavors.
Where is your school located?
Tip: Keep it brief and tell the officer which city and state the school is located in.
How many universities did you apply to?
Tip: Be honest about your answer. yYou do not necessarily have to talk about the number of acceptances or rejections that you received, unless you feel that it’s appropriate to or you’re asked about it.
Where did you go to school?
Tip: Give the name of your previous school, what type of school it is (private or public), and where it’s located.
What was your previous GPA?
Tip: You should bring in a printed copy of your previous school transcript in case the officer asks for it. This will make it easier to answer the question as you can bring out the document and either read it out or hand it to the officer.
What were your test scores?
Tip: Share the scores of the most relevant English (TOEFL or IELTS) or standardized (SAT, ACT, GRE, GMAT) tests.
How well can you communicate in English?
Tip: Your TOEFL or IELTS test score should be a clear indicator of your ability to speak English, but if that is not enough, make sure to highlight your intent to improve your English speaking skills by being a part of the international community in the US.
How are you planning to fund your education and stay in the US?
Tip: The answer to this question depends on your financial situation. Make sure to express your financial capability, whether the money will be from a family member or outside sponsor. If you are getting a loan, refrain from the topic of possibly earning money in the US to pay for your education. Instead, talk about how you hope to land a high-paying job in your home country and repay your tuition costs through your future salary.
How much is your school’s tuition?
Tip: Make sure you know the estimated cost of your tuition.
Who is sponsoring you?
Tip: Talk about who your sponsor is, your relation to them, their profession, and their income sources. If your sponsor is an organization, emphasize their importance and success within the industry.
Are you planning to work while studying?
Tip: You can mention wanting to work on your school’s campus part-time during the school year and full-time during school breaks, but try to stay away from topics of off-campus work, CPT, and OPT.
What are your plans after completing your studies? Do you plan to return to your home country or stay in the US?
Tip: Emphasize that you have strong family and cultural ties to your home country and wish to get back as soon as you finish your studies. The officer needs to be convinced that you will not overstay your visa agreement and want to return home as soon as you complete your educational goal.
Do you have a job in mind for post-graduation?
Tip: You can talk about your career plans after your education in the US, but the plan should be based in your home country and not in the US.
Do you have family or relatives in the US?
Tip: Be honest when answering this question. If you have family or friends who live in the US then mention them.
Have you been to the US before?
Tip: You do not necessarily have to cite every time you’ve traveled to the US, but make sure to mention the amount of times you have been there. Also include the reason, whether it be for vacation, a training program, and etc.
Visa interview advice
While rehearsing your answers, make sure that they are clear and concise so that it is easier for the consular officer to understand. Keep in mind that the goal of the interview is to verify the information given on your application as well as your intent for traveling to the US, so you should always be truthful and confident about your answers. Moreover, you should understand the basis and requirements of an F-1 visa—you can familiarize yourself about the different types of US student visas here!
On the day of your interview, be sure to dress appropriately as well. Keep it classy with a button up and khaki pants for guys and a conservative dress or top with pants or an appropriate-length skirt for girls. Refrain from wearing jeans, gym clothes, shorts, or flip flops as the embassy is a diplomatic space.
When will you know if you got the visa?
You will know whether your request for a visa has been accepted or denied right after the interview. If your application is accepted, you will be given instructions on where to drop off your passport. However, if your application is rejected, the interviewer will inform you of the reasons and you can reapply for a visa in 3 business days.