March 22, 2012

Student Visa Tips from Monica Shie, a U.S Consular Officer

Visa Tips

Monica Shie serves as a Consular Officer at the U.S Embassy, New Delhi in India. She shared few general tips for students attending F-1 Visa Interview. The following are the important points in her own words:

Every day in New Delhi, eight or nine officers interview hundreds of people seeking visas to the United States. Because we try to serve as many applicants as we can, the interviews are quite short -- only two to three minutes. A lot of the information that we need is already there in your application, but we like to hear from you, personally, about your travel plans.

Sometimes, visa applicants bring stacks of documents, and they seem disappointed when we do not look at all that paperwork. But the idea of a personal interview is to speak with you face-to-face -- not to examine documents.

1. Our job is to uphold the law. Sometimes that means denying a visa. If you apply for a tourist visa, but we get the idea from the interview that you are really going to work at your uncle's pizza shop, then we will not issue the visa. Students who only apply to one school and cannot explain their choice are also unlikely to be granted a visa. It is important that your intentions match your visa category.

2. Many visa applicants pay consultants to prepare their applications. Although some consultants might provide helpful information, many do not. Remember that you alone are responsible for the accuracy of the information in your application. False information on the application or fake document packages could result in permanent ineligibility.

3. If you are a student, we expect you to be credible and qualified. You should be prepared to talk about why you chose the university that you plan to attend, and you should be able to explain how you will pay for your studies. It should be easy for us to believe that you will finish the degree at the institution you have selected, and we must be convinced that full-time study is the primary purpose of your travel.

4. It is best to apply early, but not before you have heard from your first-choice school. (Your visa will be annotated with the name of the school listed on your I-20 form at the time of your interview.) You can apply for a visa up to 120 days before your program is scheduled to begin. However, you may not enter the U.S. more than 30 days before the report date for your course. If you are applying for graduate work, be sure to apply as early as you can, as sometimes administrative processing is required that might delay the issuance of your visa.

Nearly 104,000 Indians are currently studying in the United States. Like you, they were nervous when they faced the American visa officer behind the glass. The situation, admittedly, does not put one at ease.

However, if you know yourself to be a credible, qualified student, then you should have nothing to worry about. Take a deep breath, relax, and remember that the person behind the glass is there to help you. We are regular people too -- be just like you.

Now please don't forget to share this with your friends.

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