What to Expect in Your Visa Interview
The application process typically includes an interview with a consular official to determine the applicant’s purpose of travel to the U.S. Most visa interviews are short (one to two minutes) and are conducted in English, so it is important to prepare well before the interview. Be sure to remain calm and answer all questions honestly.
1) What documents should you bring to the interview?
First, check for specific requirements in your home country. Most required documents are listed below:
- Your passport (must be valid for at least six months into the future)
- SEVIS form I-20, issued to you by BMCC (be sure to sign the form yourself in the “Student Attestation,” at the bottom of page 1)
- BMCC Acceptance Letter (sent to you along with your BMCC I-20)
- Completed visa applications (DS-160) – unless you will completing it at the consulate or embassyTwo 2-inch by 2-inch photographs (taken within the last 6 months)
- A receipt for the visa application fee, or proof of visa payment
- A receipt for the SEVIS fee
- If you have not received an official receipt in the mail showing payment and you paid the fee electronically, the consulate will accept the temporary receipt you printed from your computer.
- If you do not have a receipt, the consulate may be able to see your payment electronically if your fee payment was processed at least 3 business days before your interview.
- Financial evidence that shows you have sufficient funds to cover your tuition and living expenses during the period you intend to study (bank statements, certificates of deposit, tax records, proof of sponsorship)
- Test scores and academic records (transcripts from other schools that you attended)
- Proof of English proficiency (IELTS or TOEFL scores, if available)
- Any information that proves that you will return to your home country after finishing your studies in the United States. This may include proof of property, family, or other ties to your community, a job offer upon return, documentation of research on a future job, statement of future plans, local identity card.
- Any other documents required by the embassy or consulate, based on your home country's requirements.
2) What types of questions should you prepare for in the interview?
Most questions will be related to the following categories:
Your study plans:
- Why are you going to the U.S.?
- What will you specialize in for your degree?
- What will be your major?
- Where do you go to school now?
- Who is your current employer? What do you do?
- Why are you planning to continue your education?
- Can you not continue your education in your home country?
- How will this study program relate to your past work or studies?
Your college choice:
- How many colleges did you apply to?
- How many schools did you get admitted to?
- How many schools rejected you?
- Have you been to the U.S. before?
- Do you know your professors at that university? What are their names?
- What city is your school located in?
Your academic capability:
- What are your test scores (GRE, GMAT, SAT, TOEFL, IELTS)?
- What was your previous GPA?
- How will you manage the cultural and educational differences in the U.S.?
- How good is your English?
- Why do you want to pursue a degree in the U.S.?
- Why not study in Canada, Australia or the UK?
- What do you know about U.S. schools?
- Can I see your high school/college diploma?
Your post-graduation plans:
- Do you have relatives or friends currently in the U.S.?
- [repeats #5]Do you have a job or career in mind after you graduate?
- Do you plan on returning to your home country?
- What are your plans after graduation?
- Are you sure you won’t stay in the U.S.?
- Will you continue to work for your current employer after you graduate?
Your financial status
- What is your monthly income?
- What is your sponsor’s annual income?
- How do you plan to fund the entire duration of your education?
- How much does your school cost?
- How will you meet these expenses?
- Who is going to sponsor your education?
- What is your sponsor’s occupation?
- How else will you cover the rest of your costs?
- Do you have a copy of your bank statements?
- Did you get offered a scholarship at your school?
- Can I see your tax returns?
3) Additional tips for answering the questions
- Speak for yourself - You should answer all questions for yourself. The consular officer wants to hear your answers to the questions, not your family or friends’ answers.
- Be prepared - The interview will be conducted primarily in English, not your native language. Practice in advance, in English, with a native speaker before the interview.
- Be concise - Because of the high number of visa applications, all consular officials are under pressure to conduct a quick and efficient interview. The interview typically lasts only a few minutes and the official must be able to make a decision quickly.
- Prove “ties” to your home country - Demonstrate convincing reasons that you intend to return home after studies in the United States. Applicants for nonimmigrant visas are viewed as intending immigrants until they can convince the consular officer that they are not. You must therefore be able to show that you have reasons for returning to your home country that are stronger than those for remaining in the United States.
- Dependents remaining at home - If you have a spouse and/or children remaining behind in your home country, be prepared to address how they will support themselves financially. This can be tricky if you are the primary source of income for your family. If the consular official thinks that your family members will need you to send money from the United States to support them, your student visa will almost surely be denied. Remember that as an F-1 student visa applicant, your main purpose of coming to the United States is to study, not work.
- Dependents applying to travel with you - If your spouse and/or child are applying for an accompanying F-2 visa, be aware that F-2 dependents cannot, under any circumstances, be employed in the United States. You will be asked to show proof of financial support for the F-2 dependent as well as yourself. If asked, be prepared to address what your spouse intends to do with his or her time while in the United States. Volunteer work and attending school part-time are permitted activities.
- Be prepared to prove financial ability to pay for your education and living expenses. The officer should be able to read your supporting documents quickly and easily.
- Be clear about your study plans – what you are studying, where, and why. You should be able to explain how the degree you intend to get will relate to your future profession in your home country.
- Do not engage the consular officer in an argument. If you are denied a student visa, ask the officer for a list of documents he or she would suggest you bring in order to overturn the refusal, and try to get the reason you were denied in writing.
- Applicants from countries suffering economic problems, or from countries where many students have remained in the United States as immigrants, may have more difficulty getting visas.
4) Visa approval or denial – what next?
- If you are issued a visa: Congratulations! Contact your International Student Specialist at BMCC to confirm your travel plans.
- If you are denied a visa: Most BMCC students will be successful in obtaining their student visas, however, a small number of students may have their visa applications denied.
The most common reasons for visa denial are:
- Failure to prove sufficient ties to your home country, or
- Failure to provide sufficient evidence of financial support
The visa officer is required to verbally inform you of the reason for the visa denial. If your visa is denied, please send an email to your International Student Specialist with the date and location of your visa interview, and details regarding the reason given by the visa officer for the denial.
5) Additional Resources