to Remember When Applying for a Nonimmigrant Visa
TIES TO HOME COUNTRY: Under U. S.
law, all 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. "Ties" to your
home country are the things that bind you to your
hometown, homeland, or current place of residence:
job, family, financial prospects that you own or will
inherit, investments, etc. If you are a prospective
undergraduate student, the interviewing officer may
ask about your specific intentions or promise of future
employment, family or other relationships, educational
objectives, grades, long-range plans, and career prospect
in your home country. Each person's situation is different,
of course, and there is no magic explanation or single
document, certificate, or letter, which can guarantee
ENGLISH: Anticipate that the interview will be conducted
in English and not in your native language. One suggestion is to
practice English conversation with a native speaker before the interview.
If you are coming to the United States solely to study intensive
English, be prepared to explain how English will be useful to you
in your home country.
SPEAK FOR YOURSELF : Do not bring parents or family members
with you to the interview. The consular officer wants to interview
you, not your family. A negative impression is created if you are
not prepared to speak on your own behalf. If you are a minor applying
for a high school program and need your parents there in case there
are questions, for example, about funding, they should wait in the
KNOW YOUR PROGRAM AND HOW IT FITS YOUR CAREER PLANS : If
you are not able to articulate the reasons you wish to pursue a
particular program in the United States, you may not succeed in
convincing the consular officer that you are indeed planning to
study or conduct research, rather than to immigrate. You should
also be able to explain how studying or working in the United States
will relate to your professional goals upon returning to your home
BE CONCISE: Because of the volume of applications received,
all consular officers are under considerable time pressure to conduct
a quick and efficient interview. They must make a decision, for
the most part, on the impressions they form during the first minute
or two of the interview. Consequently, what you say first and the
initial impression you create are critical to your success. Keep
your answers to the officer's questions short and to the point.
SUPPLEMENTAL DOCUMENTATION: It should be clear at a glance
to the consular officer what written documents you are presenting
and what they signify. Lengthy written explanations cannot be quickly
read or evaluated. Remember that you will have 2-3 minutes of interview
time, if you're lucky.
NOT ALL COUNTRIES ARE EQUAL: Applicants from countries
suffering economic problems or from countries where many students
or researchers have remained in the United States as immigrants
will have more difficulty getting visas. Statistically, applicants
from those countries are more likely to be intending immigrants.
They are also more likely to be asked about job opportunities at
home after completion of their program in the United States.
EMPLOYMENT: Your main purpose for coming to the United
States should be to study, not for the chance to work before or
after graduation. While many students do work off-campus during
their studies, such employment is incidental to their main purpose
of completing their U. S. education. You must be able to clearly
articulate your plan to return home at the end of your program.
If your spouse is also applying for an accompanying F-2 visa, be
aware that F-2 dependents cannot, under any circumstances, be employed
in the United States. If asked, be prepared to address what your
spouse intends to do with his or her time while in the United States.
DEPENDENTS REMAINING AT HOME: If your spouse and children
are remaining behind in your country, be prepared to address how
they will support themselves in your absence. This can be an especially
tricky area if you are the primary source of income for your family.
If the consular officer gains the impression that your family members
will need you to remit money from the United States in order to
support themselves, your student visa application will almost certainly
be denied. If your family does decide to join you at a later time,
it is helpful to have them apply at the same time when you apply
for your visa.
MAINTAIN A POSITIVE ATTITUDE: 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 overcome the refusal, and try to get the reason you
were denied in writing.