5 tips for your US visa interview
The visa interview process can prove to be daunting, especially if this is your first time going through the process as an F-1 visa candidate at a US consulate. Here are 5 tips to make sure your visa interview experience is smooth and predictable:
Brush up on your language skills
The US visa interviews conducted in India are conducted in English. If English is not your strong suit, please practice with a native speaker! Do not memorise answers or default to stilted responses. Approach the interview like a conversation— be engaged, interactive, but brief. The interview is the gateway to a new & exciting chapter in your life, so please make sure your answers are informative and communicate your enthusiasm for your undergraduate or master’s program.
Plan for contingencies while compiling supporting documentation
With documentation, it is always better to overprepare than underprepare. Consulate officials are required, in a short span of time, to make a determination regarding the authenticity of your application and your motives for pursuing an education in the US. While it is not specifically mentioned on the USTravelDocs.gov website, include any substantiating information that might be of interest to officials. If you have made former visits to the US or held a different non-immigrant visa, make sure you have ample information regarding those aspects of your arrival/departure record including locations, timelines, and reasons for travelling. An I-94 is a great document to have on hand, as are old passports, work certificates (if applicable), a current resume, and any previous I-20s or EAD cards.
Here’s a list of documents you will need to support your case for a US visa:
PAN, other Indian/home ID proofs
DS-160 confirmation slip
US Passport sized photos
SEVIS fee receipt
Machine readable visa (MRV) receipt, if applicable (to be safe, keep a NEFT payment proof just in case)
Financial documents (bank statements, liquid assets to present evidence of funding for your program; include sponsor info and original documents if applicable)
All I-20s, EADs, and former visa records
Current/historical education documents (acceptance/scholarship letters, diplomas, transcripts, and secondary school exam results)
Documents proving ties to home country
Resume (for master’s programs)
Emphasise and prove your ties to your home country
Students are applying for a non-immigrant visa class and must therefore demonstrate solid roots in their home country. US consulate officials do not want to risk a candidate overstaying their visa, so provide compelling reasons for why you would return to your country upon completion of your program. Ties can be related to social ties, employment, and financial assets in your home country.
Talk knowledgeably about your school, program, and career goals
It is essential that you speak knowledgeably about motivations for pursuing a certain program, and why you picked a certain university. The US consulate official interviewing you can ask about:
The number of schools you applied to and the number of acceptances you received
Why [your program]
How does this degree fit in with your career and future goals?
What employment options does this program provide you back home?
Dress well! You do not have to dress formally for the interview, but wear well-fitted, appropriate, and freshly ironed clothes that will allow you to look and feel your best. Keep the slogan shirts, graphic tees, and mini-dresses for more casual occasions. A lot of communication in interviews, as in life, is non-verbal.